BGAN Satellite Buyers Guide and FAQ
- What exactly is Broadband Global Area Network a.k.a. Bgan?
The Broadband Global Area Network commonly referred to as simply ‘Bgan’ is a network of 3 I-4 satellites in geostationary orbit built, launched and managed by Inmarsat, a premier provider of satellite technology for over 30-years. The location and orbit of each satellite is such that the network can provide seamless coverage on land, at sea or up in the air for that matter. There are many Bgan terminals and service plans to choose from depending on your application and throughput requirements that support an array of connectivity options from voice and SMS to broadband data for internet access, streaming and even FAX (who says the old can’t blend with the new!).
- Is there a "Welcome To BGAN" Video?
- Can I purchase a BGAN terminal and/or service from BganSatellite.com?
Absolutely and if you don’t see what you’re looking for in our online store and/or just want advice on a Bgan terminal or service plan then don’t hesitate to speak with a knowledgeable BganSatelllite sales representative. With a combined 25 years’ experience in satellite communications no organization will better understand and deliver a solution that meets the mission critical needs of your unique mission or application.
- Where is the Bgan coverage area?
To view a map of the Bgan coverage area simply click here. Within the shaded area all Bgan services are available to subscribers however subscribers may experience lower throughput speeds at fringes and there is no coverage at the poles. Remember the further north/south your location the more your terminal may need to be pointed towards the equator (horizon). Regardless of your longitude service will always be available across all 3 satellites.
- Is Bgan service available with my terminal when I travel globally?
Your Bgan Satellite terminal will provide service under any of the 3 satellites indicated by the coverage map. In fact your terminal hardware package includes a 110-220v power kit with a suite of global plug kits that will allow you power and charge your battery seamlessly across the globe. An optional 12v DC car charger is also available and where to fit wherever coverage is indicated can be used anywhere on the Bgan coverage map.
- What is the typical tariff or service plan for Bgan?
What is the typical tariff or service plan for Bgan?
BGAN Satellite offer a variety BGAN service plans to meet any budget. In addition to bundled data with each of the Bgan tariffs, progressively lower rates are available as you move to higher-usage plans. Standard plans run from as little as $69/month, include 2.5 Mb’s of data with data overage charges of under $8/Mb and go up to $8k/month inclusive of 2100 Mb’s depending on the data demands of you application. Service pricing can be found here. There are no connection charges for data sessions which are not based on time – just throughput. Its worth noting that above and beyond data transmission, voice calls are only invoiced at $.99/min.
- Are prepaid plans available for Bgan?
Yes, Bgan service is available with several flexible prepaid options that include prepaid data bundles good for a quarter as well as annually depending on the needs of your application. Bgan prepaid service options and detail can be found here.
- Is it easy to add credit to a prepaid account with Bgan?
Subscribers can pay by quarter or annually with a preset number of Mb’s. As a complimentary service Bgan Satellite can set an auto-recharge trigger to replenish a prepaid account and ensure that all devices are never at risk of being without service.
- What is the difference between Bgan and VSAT?
While comparatively service with Bgan is substantially more expensive then a VSAT solution, BGAN is more affordable on the hardware side, require no professional installation training and most importantly it remains ultra-portable with even the largest terminals weighing in at around 12 pounds. Even the most portable VSAT unit would weight over 100 pounds. As a baseline concept when decidin which is best the essential consideration is that Bgan cannot match the speed of VSAT just as VSAT cannot match the portability of Bgan.
- What is the transmission speed or throughput of Bgan
The speed at which data can be transmitted is first and foremost a function of the terminal size. The smaller the antennae the slower the max throughput, which currently hovers around 150kbps, for maritime as well as land-based fixed, portable and mobile. The largest terminals offer speeds excess of 450kbps or about ½ a Mb. For the larger terminals there is a service option called Bgan X-tremewhich can boost througput for streaming applications up to 700kbps and higher.
- Which bgan terminal is best for my application?
When selecting a terminal the answer to 2 questions will narrow down the search dramatically:
- Will the terminal be used in a vehicle or not?
- How much throughput do I need for my application?
Answers to the above will typically leave 2 or 3 choices to select from. This is a complete comparative list of mobile vehicle Bgan terminals and this is a list of portable Bgan terminals that can also be accessorized for fixed/permanent mount installations.
- Is Telephone service available on Bgan to make calls?
Yes, a phone line is available on your Bgan terminal to make phone calls. A dedicated phone number is provisioned with your Bgan service enabling subscribers to make and receive calls. An RJ-11 port located on your Bgan terminal will any standard phone but we recommend a handset that is analog and does not require additional power (think princess phone). A bgan handset for voice calls is available as a convenient accessory for your Bgan terminal.
- Is Fax service available on my Bgan terminal?
Your Bgan terminal is also FAX capable and like telephone will work with most standard fax machines. A dedicated FAX number is provisioned as with phone service however be sure to request that the service is provisioned at time of activation. Utilizing FAX service works as seamlessly as voice over a telephone line, is available at no additional charge and completes your mobile office in the field. Click here to find additional details on how to Fax with BGAN
- Shoud I utilize VOIP to make calls over satellite with Bgan?
The answer is definitely NO. VOIP calling utilizes far more bandwidth then the standard telephone service line already available and provisioned with your Bgan terminal.
- Do I need any technical support to acquire a signal and use my Bgan?
Not in the slightest. In fact your Bgan terminal has a built-in LCD that lets you know where to position the terminal for the optimal signal. Generally you just need to point the Bgan terminal toward the equator and you’ll see signal strength as soon as you power up the unit. Then just rotate the terminal accordingly to maximize the signal strength utilizing the LCD display. Still not sure? No worries! Most Bgan terminals include an audible sensor that will beep when the signal is optimal. No technical degree or certification is required. Once you have installed (before your mission) and started Bgan Launchpad, a software package for your laptop, you will have additional tools to secure a signal and register with the network. Launchpad will continuously display your position including elevation and the respective compass points of your position. The entire process takes no more than 5-minutes.
- How do I connect my laptop to the Bgan terminal?
All Bgan terminals include an Ethernet (RJ-45) port for seamless connectivity between you, the satellite network and the Internet or your companies Intranet. Many of the higher end terminals will even include 2 Ethernet ports. Higher-end Bgan terminals such as the Hughes 9200 series and explorer 700 will support multiple simultaneous data connections and it is not unusual to add an ethernet router where physical connections are desired over Wi-Fi.
- Can you connect to a Bgan unit via Wi-Fi?
Yes. At this time the Cobham Explorer 500 and 700 supports Wi-Fi as does the Hughes 9200 terminal series. Encryption and password protection is standard with the built-in router of your Bgan terminal. All of the Bgan vehicle terminals have built-in Wi-Fi access/connectivity as well.
- What is the Bgan interface and Launchpad?
Accessing the Bgan interface is required to initiate a service connection (note: you must FIRST have a connection to your Bgan terminal via Wi-Fi or Ethernet). There are 2 ways to access the Bgan interface from your computer. The first and best is through Launchpad, a Bgan utility that you should download and install on your computer BEFORE you leave on your mission. Launchpad is available as a PC and Mac application. To save yourself some time you can configure the your terminal to auto-register which will also initiate a data session seamlessly after a signal acquisition which will forgo Launchpad entirely. Bgan satellite can configure your Bgan terminal before it ships upon request.
- What’s a SIM card?
A subscriber identity module or SIM card uniquely identifies you to the Bgan satellite network. The SIM defines the available services, security parameters and tells the network that you are an authorized user. It also tells the network what services you are authorized to use such as voice, data or fax.
Like a GSM cell phone you will also need a SIM card for a Bgan terminal. Specifically an Inmarsat Bgan SIM card is required to use your Bgan terminal. The SIM card along with a service activation request form will be included separately. When you’re ready to activate service you’ll be asked to provide the Bgan SIM card number on the activation form. Then simply scan/email the activation form to Bgan Satellite for activation. While your SIM is being activated you may break the SIM chip out of the card holder along its perforated edge (don’t worry you won’t break the chip). Then follow the instructions provided with your terminal to insert the chip into the SIM tray. Click here to learn more about SIM cards for your Bgan device
- How long does the activation process take?
Bgan Satellite activations are registered same day, including weekends, however we ask all of our subscribers to allow for 24-hours between activation submission and terminal use.
- Do I need to be outside to receive a signal?
The antennae of your terminal and as with all satellite communications, requires line-of-site with the sky. Generally clouds and even lite foliage is ok but not a roof or other solid structure. Your Bgan terminal and antennae may be 2 pieces or are one compact single unit. If you plan on using the terminal outdoors or rather leaving the Bgan terminal outdoors you may prefer a terminal with a detachable antenna though in many cases even the transceiver can remain outside. Please see the next question on further indoor use.
- Do I need special hardware or accessories to use the unit indoors?
For short durations a Bgan terminal will function normally while exposed to the elements so long as the temperature thresholds are not breached (extreme heat/cold). With that in mind most terminals can be accessorized with a mounting kit or even an enclosure with a cooling/heating element as your location demands. For M2M applications in remote areas Bgan enclosures and mounting kits are fairly standard, add stability/security to your hardware and are easy to assemble.
- What options are there for powering my Bgan unit out in the field?
Unless there is a vehicle or portable generator (110/220 is standard as is a car charger options) we recommend the only alternative however obvious, a solar charger. The battery will maintain a charger for typically 4-hours while transmitting though this may be shorter or longer depending on usage: throughput, sending or receiving. While powered-on, in stand-by mode the battery will last between 24 and 48-hours. At Bgan Satellite we highly recommend a solar power source when working without a support vehicle.
- Can my portable Bgan terminal operate while moving?
Vaguely. Unfortunately no, not even on a slow moving river tributary at less the 5 knots will lose the signal as angle of the boat changes. There are specific Bgan terminals to use while in a vehicle or for maritime use where Bgan service is referred to as Fleetbroadband (FBB).
- What type of terminal do I need to use Bgan service in a vehicle?
Bgan Satellite offers several terminals with active antennae’s that are designed to be used in a vehicle while in driving up to 60mph (or 100kph) including but not limited to the Cobham explorer 325, explorer 727, Hughes 9350 and Hughes 9450. The vehicle mounted Bgan Terminals include a magnetic mount antennae that fixes to the roof of your vehicle and for those storm chasers the antennae can be bolted on as well. The transceiver sits safely within the confines of the vehicle where occupants can safely make calls, transfer files and browse the internet. For extra-vehicular activities all mobile Bgan Satellite terminals include Wi-Fi providing voice and data capable connections up to 30m away from the vehicle.
- What Bgan terminal and service is required while at sea or on a waterway?
Portable Bgan terminals have a passive antenna and are designed to function while stationary while Mobile Bgan terminals as mentioned in the previous question have an active antenna. Both portable and mobile terminal use Bgan service and share the same Bgan service plans, however for water going vessel there are a different suite of service plans referred to as Fleetbroadband (FBB) and this service requires Fleetbroadband terminals, with active antennae’s, designed specifically for maritime applications.
- Is on-demand audio and/or video streaming availabe?
In addition to standard streaming an optional premium service call X-Stream is also available providing dedicated IP streaming speeds up to 450kbps. Streaming services including X-Stream from Bgan Satellite provide guaranteed throughput speeds for your live audio and/or video application requirements. Available service speeds and tariffs are available for your review by clicking this Bgan Rates link. As with standard sessions, to initiate a Bgan streaming session simply start Launchpad, select the ‘Data’ (Between ‘Setup’ and ‘Phone’) option from the Top line menu and then instead of selecting ‘Standard Session’, select a streaming speed is eaTo initiate a Bgan streaming session From the launchpad application on your PC.
- Is an IP address available with my Bgan service?
Your Bgan service includes the provisioning of a single IP addresses. Additional IP addresses may be required by your VPN, conferencing, media or machine to machine applications and are available for purchase. For pricing on additional IP services please see the Bgan IP service pricing link.
- Are there any security controls that limit data transfer and Wi-Fi access?
Bgan is not an all-you-can-eat service. In fact it can be very expensive per Mb and therefore every byte should count. To that end, any application on your laptop, tablet, phone or any other device connected to the Bgan network, that is susceptible to push notifications or software updates, should be disabled. Even on a higher end plan, at $7mb, the last thing anyone wants is a 100Mb iTunes update on their Bgan Satellite invoice. As part of your activation process we can setup thresholds which when triggered will send alerts or simply terminate service, as desired.
Further to security and network access, the first time you use your BGAN terminal the Wi-Fi will be disabled so an Ethernet connection is required (cable included). Thereafter Wi-Fi can be enabled whenever the terminal is powered-up and a password required (WEP) to access the network. In addition to Wi-Fi all terminals have Bluetooth which with the proper precautions in place, is a very safe, secure and convenient method of communicating over Bgan.
- Is weather a consideration when using Bgan?
Unlike VSAT terminals, inclement weather including heavy rain and snow will generally no impact your Bgan service. Clouds also will have little or no impact on service.
- What’s the difference between narrow vs wide beam?
The 3 Bgan satellites emit 2 beam referred to as narrow, utilized for data traffic and a wide beam which handles voice and messaging. When you register through the Launchpad utility the wide beam is the default allowing for immediate use of voice and messaging services. When a data session is opened the narrow beam is in use.
- Will Bgan Satellite ship a terminal internationally?
Bgan Satellite will ship terminals to most countries directly via FedEx or UPS. Please contact a BGAN Satellite sales representative for more information by email: email@example.com or calling +1-XXX-XXX-XXXX.
- Is there a Bgan network firewall with VPN capabilities?
Yes, Bgan Satellite can customize your firewall to limit access to a variety of protocols for email such as SMTP, POP3 and IMAP as well as web browsing and FTP. Bgan service is VPN capable and has been tested with Cisco Client, Remote Client and Checkpoint however it is worth noting that not all VPN tunneling works the same across all networks.
- How do I access the BGAN Web Interface?
From previous questions, while the Bgan Launchpad Utilty is the preferred access method it is also possible to configureAll BGAN terminals are accessible from any connected browser. The web interface screens show system connecting status, as well as other parameters such as turning on and off Wi-Fi. Below is listed all BGAN terminals and the IP address to type into any browser to access that BGAN web interface screen.
Portable Bgan Terminals Launchpad via Web IP Access Portable BGAN Terminals AdValue Wideye Sabre 1 192.168.1.35 Cobham Explorer 300 192.168.0.1 Cobham Explorer 500 192.168.0.1 Cobham Explorer 700 192.168.0.1 Hughes 9202 192.168.128.100 Hughes 9502 192.168.128.100 Vehicle Bgan Terminals Advalue Wideye Safari 192.168.1.35 Cobham Explorer 325 192.168.0.1 Cobham Explorer 727 192.168.0.1 Hughes (Class 10) 9350 192.168.128.100 Hughes (Class 11) 9350 192.168.128.100 Hughes (Class 11) 9450 192.168.128.100