I just went and checked the status of satellite Internet connections, since my DSL line may go dead any day now. I’ve got lots of clients growing old waiting for DSL and cable in their areas.

Hughes runs the DirecPC network of satellites. They’re the only satellite company that’s up and running reliably these days. Whenever you see a reference to satellite service from some ISP, the odds are that it’s Hughes’ satellites running behind the scenes.

As of today, the only service available from Hughes is called “one way.” Your computer dials up an ISP, all your outgoing traffic goes through the modem, all your incoming traffic comes thru the satellite. That’s a big improvement over a conventional dialup! Most of your traffic will always be incoming, and it comes in at 128-400K, worlds better than modem speeds.

But you still have to make a dialup connection, so you’re not always online, which is frustrating. You still need the dedicated phone line for the modem. And uploading still goes slowly, so you wouldn’t see any improvement in uploading web pages, for example.

“Two way” satellite service will be rolled out soon. (It still says April on some of the web sites, but delays happen.) In theory, that’s good stuff – always on, speedier uploads, all the rest of the advantages of a true broadband connection.

DirecPC isn’t going to sell the two-way service directly, at least not at first. It points over to its partners – Juno (a hideous company), Earthlink, and somebody I’ve never heard of. Pricing information is hard to come by – nobody’s talking. Looks like it will be tiered pricing, depending on the speed, and I got one hint that it would start at $70/month and scale up from there. That strikes me as reasonable, for what it’s worth. I’m paying more right now for a 144K DSL line.

The two-way satellite service takes different hardware than the one-way service, so it’s not an easy upgrade.

With the two-way so close, it makes sense to wait and see if it makes it to the market. On the other hand, it’s scary to think about signing up for an initial release of something like this – there’s always startup bugs and glitches. The one-way service is pretty well established.

I don’t know what to tell you if you’re ready to jump from dialup. Are you feeling lucky?