Satellite BGAN Communications FAQ

Satellite BGAN Communications FAQ #

The only stop that you need to make for answers to your simple queries about the BGAN service

General BGAN FAQ #

What is BGAN?
Broadband Global Area Network (better known as BGAN) is a global solution for satellite Internet and voice services from portable and easy to use devices. It operates on a network of three satellites owned and operated by Inmarsat that are in a geostationary orbit around the planet so no matter where you are you may always connect with one of the satellites. This is with the exception of the extreme polar regions of the planet.

Where does BGAN work?
BGAN operates all over the entire planet with the exception of the polar regions. You must also attain a clear line of sight (see example below) from the BGAN terminal to an Inmarsat satellite.

Satellite BGAN Communications FAQSatellite BGAN Communications FAQ

Where can I buy BGAN equipment and airtime?
You can purchase everything up to and including airtime and also get technical support straight from Apollo Satellite Communications, please feel free to contact us at any time: Apollo SatCom Contact.

How fast is the Internet connection using BGAN?
Internet services have two types:

  • Standard IP: A shared service Internet connection with peak rates of 492kbps (all depending on your BGAN terminal model).
  • Streaming IP & HDR: Provides a selectable, dedicated Internet connection with speeds from 32kbps to 800kbps.

How much does the BGAN service cost?
We have a wide range of service plans at Apollo SatCom, feel free to check them out here and contact us at any time with any questions: BGAN SERVICE PLANS LINK HERE

How much does it cost for a BGAN terminal?
There are many devices available at a wide range of prices. Normally, you can expect to pay about $1200 for something like an iSavi. It is cheaper than most satellite terminals, still performs great, and allows users to utilize their own personal devices like their smartphone, laptop, or tablet. This helps keep things super simple for the customer. That price can go all the way up to over ten grand for certain terminals depending on exactly what your needs are but just for a personal satellite terminal to connect your own devices to an iSavi or something a bit more expensive than that would be sufficient.

Is BGAN easy to set-up and use?
BGAN was engineered for customers without any technical expertise so they can handle the install and even operate it themselves. BGAN terminals have features including pointing tools, compasses, and audible tones to make getting your terminal connected to the satellite network that much easier. Watch the video for a demonstration and see how easy it is:

What type of devices (Mac, PC, etc.) are supported on BGAN?
Any Internet capable device can be connected to your BGAN terminal up to and including the following: Windows, Mac, SmartPhones, Tablets, IP Routers, switches, IP enabled PLC/RTUs, etc.

Can I make a phone call and use the Internet simultaneously?
Yes of course! BGAN has completely separate channels for voice and Internet (except on selected M2M models). Additionally, you can also have multiple connections (also called sessions) to the Internet as well.

What is the difference between BGAN and VSAT?
BGAN has a much smaller form factor so think of it as being the portable one out of the two.

Can I use BGAN for SCADA or M2M applications?
It is actually ideal for SCADA/M2M applications because it is reliable, easy to install, has a small form factor, and also boasts low-power consumption. This is of course with terminals purposefully built for SCADA/M2M, though.

Can you use BGAN inside of a building?
The short answer to this is no, your terminal must be outside and have a clear line of sight to Inmarsat’s satellites. There are certain models, though, that have wi-fi so the terminal can be set outside while it is being used from inside the building. Also, there are options for more permanent installations which would include an antenna that can be placed outside so customers can enjoy their global connection from inside as well. So, there are options out there for inside use it just takes a bit extra because of the medium’s limitations.

Can I stream video over BGAN?
Yes, actually BGAN is great for news gathering or even video conferencing. The video applications include BGAN’s Streaming IP and HDR services.

Do BGAN terminals have a Wi-Fi/Wireless Access Point?
Yes, some models include built-in wi-fi. Simply check out the features on the models or contact Apollo SatCom for some hands on help in deciding.

Can I use BGAN on a boat or vessel?
Actually, BGAN is designed for use on land but if your vessel is docked or in calm waters with minimal movement then you would still be able to obtain a connection with a BGAN terminal. If maritime communications is what you need then we highly recommend FleetBroadband. It is the same BGAN service but paired with maritime stabilized antennas that are specifically designed to work at sea. So, it isn’t necessarily the service that limits the use at sea but the hardware itself that you purchase.

How do I select the correct BGAN terminal?
This really all depends on exactly what you need it for. Whether you need mobile communications or just stationary locations, the antenna gain that you require for your particular situation, as well as the performance speeds are just some of the important factors in deciding what will work for you. Please feel free to contact Apollo SatCom and a specialist can figure out exactly what you need with some simple questions. This helps ensure that you getting exactly what is needed if you are having trouble deciding yourself: Apollo SatCom Contact

What is Streaming IP & HDR?
They are selectable, full-duplex, dedicated IP services that boast speeds from 32kbps to 800kbps. They are designed so customers can enjoy live video streaming and video conferencing with ease.[/vc_column_text]

The BGAN Network #

How does the BGAN satellite network connect to the networks on the ground?
Basically what happens is your BGAN terminal connects to an Inmarsat satellite which sends your signal to a ground station. That ground station is connected to a private ring that delivers the traffic to specific points called “meet me” points. This is all set up to provide high-availability for that path so your signals can be transferred successfully without issues.

Can the Sun cause any connectivity issues with the BGAN?
There are sun outages (called interference) where the Sun passes behind the satellite causing issues but this should not impact I-4 broadband services. This “interference” occurs only twice a year and is for only just a few minutes. For the Inmarsat ground station’s antennas these Sun outages are known well beforehand and are handled as part of their normal operations. Also, the beamwidth of L-band user terminals is made so that they are not impacted by the Sun within the field of view.

Are Inmarsat satellites and the BGAN service affected by solar magnetic disturbances?
Inmarsat monitors such space weather and it is provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (or better known as the NOAA). From geostationary orbits at approximately 36,000km above the planet a satellite can get some protection from solar particles by the Earth’s magnetic field. But when solar activity is quite high, the extent of the Earth’s magnetic field can be reduced and this results in the satellites being exposed to a higher amount of charged particles than usual. The satellites are made to handle an increased amount of charged particles but no amount of shielding can protect everything one-hundred percent so unfortunately, events do occur. What normally happens is the satellites have redundant systems that allow a back up to be used during these events so even though they do happen there aren’t normally any service interruptions.

What is the maximum number of bearers in any one I-4 satellite spot beam for BGAN?
For I-4 broadband satellite services this is dependent upon demand. Inmarsat has the flexibility to dynamically assign spectrum and power where it is needed. Also, for the BGAN family of services capacity can be allocated and adjusted depending upon demand as well.

What is the latency for the BGAN?
Latency for BGAN usually falls somewhere between 900 – 1100 milliseconds.

What frequency band does BGAN utilize?
It operates on the L-Band frequency so it is not as susceptible to rain fade, effectively making it highly useful in all weather conditions.

BGAN Terminal Transmit and Receive Frequencies w/L-Band: 1.5 to 1.6 GHz

Transmit: 1626.5 MHz – 1660.5 MHz.

Receive: 1525 MHz – 1559 MHz.

The GPS Frequency used on BGAN terminals is 1575.42 MHz (receive only).

Using BGAN #

How do I make phone calls using a BGAN?
To make a phone call from a BGAN phone, dial the country code (for example, the United States is 011) you are calling and then the area code and phone number (for example, 403 287 5000).

Also, you need to finish the number by pressing the # key on your telephone keypad. If you are unsure about the country code for the country that you are calling, click here for a complete listing of country codes.

How does someone phone me on my BGAN?
To call a phone connected to a BGAN terminal, dial the country exit code (for example, the United States is 011), then enter Inmarsat’s country code of (which is 870), and then the 9-digit BGAN phone number.

Important Note: 870 is the country code for all Inmarsat phones.

What is the short code to collect BGAN voicemail messages?
Dial 57# to collect voicemail.

What is the process to set up voicemail over BGAN?

Step One:
Dial 57 or +870 772 001 899 from the BGAN network then follow the instructions on the recorded voicemail message.

Step Two:
You will be asked to select a PIN number (typically four characters or more) and to state their name.

Step Three:
You will then be directed to create a personal greeting for their voicemail. When a new message is received, the network will automatically send a text (SMS) to your terminal. You can then dial short code 57 to listen to the message.

How does Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) work over BGAN?
BGAN provides VoIP (Voice Over Internet) and other IP bearers that are transparent to application. Common third party VoIP providers such as Skype have been tested on BGAN.

Please make note that these third party providers work but it is more economical to use the BGAN voice channel for phone calls than to use VoIP solutions over Standard IP.

How do I point my BGAN terminal at the satellite?
This will vary a bit by the model of BGAN terminal that you have but this video will help walk you through it from start to finish:

What is the difference between BGAN Standard and Streaming IP?

  • Standard IP is a shared service connection, which is in turn charged by the Megabyte of data transferred. For basic Internet access, email, small file transfers, and web access it is what is recommended.
  • Streaming IP is in turn a dedicated connection designed for live video streaming, very large file transfers, or even video conferencing and it is charged per minute of connection time. So, as you can see Streaming IP equals more data, which equals higher cost while Standard IP is more for your everyday type of usage.

What is a PDP Context?
A Packet Data Protocol (PDP) context transfers information about your data connections between the BGAN terminal and the BGAN network.

The PDP context defines connection aspects such as routing, QoS, and security. The BGAN terminal opens a primary PDP context or a secondary PDP context, depending on the IP data connection type.

What is a Traffic Flow Template?
A Traffic Flow Template (TFT) is a series of filters that allows traffic that passes the filters to be routed on a particular PDP context, and given a different QoS to traffic on other PDP contexts. TFTs enable the terminal to have more than one PDP context open simultaneously.

What is BGAN LaunchPad?
LaunchPad is a standard user interface that can be used across all land mobile BGAN terminals. Customers may also install Inmarsat’s TCP Accelerator software, which significantly enhances the performance of TCP traffic being sent.

Is ‘BGAN LaunchPad’ able to send an SMS text directly after registration?
Yes, just register and the LaunchPad software will have the ability to send and receive SMS.

Is each SMS sent charged separately over BGAN?
Yes, there will be a charge for each individual message.

Can an SMS text be sent to a pager service?
Some paging systems have been modified to receive text messages from the local mobile networks. The user will be unable to access the service if they are outside their own country because the numbering scheme (or plan) for pagers is not part of E.164 numbering.

When I receive an SMS text, do I pay for this?
No the sender is the one that actually pays for an SMS.

How does satellite network latency impact email performance?
Latency and other issues impact the performance of the network. On average BGAN provides a latency of between 900 – 1100 milliseconds.

To make sure you are maintaining a more cost-effective and efficient email service you should have your client and server settings optimized for satellite networks. This will keep the cost down for the data from your emails.

How many computers, smartphones, and tablets etc. can connect to a BGAN terminal?
This really all depends on the model of terminal that you purchase. You could either check out the features on our website or call Apollo SatCom and we can get the info for you.

What is a BGAN SIM Card?
A SIM card (also known as a Subscriber Identity Module) is a small removable card that is inserted into the BGAN terminal.

The main function of the SIM card is to recognize you as an Apollo SatCom customer so you can access the Inmarsat network. BGAN terminals all require a SIM card to operate as well.

How do I control usage and costs with my BGAN?
Apollo SatCom has filtering as wells as usage notifications with auto-suspension and limits to help manage cost, provides filtering usage notifications with limits, and auto-suspension to help you manage and control costs.

Added Tip: It is highly recommended that you configure your IP devices to turn-off unnecessary background tasks that send/receive data. For instance, turning off automatic updates might be a must on some devices so unnecessary data usage does not occur.

Will BGAN work with a VPN?
Yes, if you have an existing VPN client application, you can use it over BGAN.

Can I get a Fixed Public IP Address for my BGAN?
Yes, a fixed IP address can be made available at a customer’s request.

What options exist for BGAN firewall or filtering?
Filtering is controlled at the remote user level with software, filtering devices, and/or configuration settings in the BGAN terminal.

How do I get BGAN call and usage reports (CDRs)?
Contact Apollo SatCom for your call and usage reports, we’re always here to help: Apollo SatCom Contact

What is forced routing on BGAN?
Some countries including Russia, China, Australia, and the United States require Inmarsat to route data traffic through gateways so that the host country can control or monitor the signal coming from terminals operating within their own territories.

In some cases, a special APN value or even static IP addresses are required when the BGAN terminal is within a country with forced routing. In some rare cases you may even need to register your terminal with local authorities.

How can I get usage notifications and alerts for BGAN?
Apollo SatCom can help with this and provide usage notifications upon volume if you would like whether it be minutes or Megabytes and these can be recurring based on daily, weekly, all the way up to annual reports for your own usage. You can even have optional suspension limits to make sure you don’t go over and run up a bill on accident.

Do I need a license to use my BGAN?
In some countries licensing is already established by Inmarsat (e.g. Canada/USA) and the user is not required to provide any additional licensing. In other countries, the customer may need to obtain a temporary usage authorization to bring your BGAN terminal into a specific country or work with Apollo SatCom for more permanent usage scenarios.

Important Note: These limitations are normally caused by a specific country’s policies and are unfortunately not controlled by Apollo SatCom or any other dealer for that matter. This usually stems from a country’s bad or in some cases nonexistent policies and/or protocols.

What is a BGAN APN?
This is an Access Point Name (or better known as an APN) and it identifies the external network that is accessible from your terminal. By default, the SIM Card in your terminal is configured and the terminal reads this information from the SIM card.

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