BGAN FAQ Sections:

General BGAN FAQ

What is BGAN?

BGAN (Broadband Global Area Network) is a global solution for satellite Internet and telephone service via small portable, easy to use devices. It operates on a network of three satellites owned and operated by Inmarsat. These  satellites are in geostationary orbit around the planet, so that no matter where you are, you may always connect with one of the satellites, except for the polar regions. The BGAN satellite network interconnects to Network Innovations’ Point of Presence (POP) to connect BGAN terminals to the Internet.

Where does BGAN work?

BGAN works on a near global basis with the exception of the polar regions.  It requires clear line of sight from the user BGAN terminal to an Inmarsat satellite.  Click here for a coverage map.

Where can I buy BGAN equipment and airtime?

Network Innovations is a Distribution Partner for Inmarsat BGAN , Cobham EXPLORER BGAN & Hughes BGAN Terminals.  You can procure all equipment, airtime, technical support and value added services through Network Innovations.  Contact a NI BGAN Specialist.

How fast is the BGAN Internet connection?

There are two types of Internet services provided.  Standard IP is a shared service Internet connection with peak rates of 492 Kbps (dependent upon BGAN terminal model).  Streaming IP & HDR provide selectable, dedicated Internet connection speeds from 32 Kbps to 800 Kbps.

How much does the BGAN service cost ?

A variety of service plans are offered.  For frame of reference, Internet usage plans range from $1.50 to $7.00 per Megabyte.  Telephone usage ranges from $0.60 to $1.00 per minute.  Streaming IP ranges from $3.15 to $29.50 per minute.  SMS text message is free to receive and send rates range from $0.25 to $0.45 per message.  Service plans are available as single SIM (plan per BGAN terminal) or shared allowance (pool of usage for a group of BGAN terminals).

How much does it cost for a BGAN terminal?

There are a variety of models available, ranging from $1,800 (M2M Antenna) to $3,000 (Portable Directional Antenna) to $14,000 (Auto-Tracking Antenna for Communications on the move).

Is BGAN easy to set-up and use?

BGAN is designed to be customer installable and for use by non-technical users.  Terminals include pointing tools, compasses, and audible tones to make pointing a BGAN terminal a quick and easy task.  View this video for a demonstration.

What type of devices, e.g. Mac, PC, are supported on BGAN?

Any IP capable device can be connected to a BGAN terminal including Windows, Mac, SmartPhones, Tablets, IP Routers, switches, IP enabled PLC/RTUs, etc.

Can I make a telephone call and connect to the Internet at the same time on BGAN?

Yes.  BGAN has separate channels for telephone and Internet (except on selected M2M models).  Additionally, you can have multiple connections (sessions) to the Internet.

What is the difference between BGAN and VSAT?

BGAN is a smaller form factor, more portable option that VSAT.  For a more complete comparison, read this post on comparing BGAN and VSAT.

Can I use BGAN for SCADA or M2M applications?

BGAN is ideal for SCADA/M2M applications because it is reliable, easy to install, small form factor, low power consumption, with terminals purposefully built for SCADA/M2M.  Visit our BGAN M2M section for more information.

Can you use BGAN inside of a building?

The BGAN terminal antenna must be outside and have a clear line of sight to the Inmarsat satellite.  Some models include a built-in wi-fi so that a user can leave the terminal outside but work inside a building.  Other options exist for permanent fixed installations.

Can I stream video over BGAN?

Yes.  BGAN is ideal for Satellite News Gathering or Video-Conferencing.  The Streaming IP and HDR service are designed for video applications.

Do BGAN terminals have a Wi-Fi/Wireless Access Point?

Some models include a built-in wi-fi/WLAN.  View the terminal comparison in our BGAN section.

Can I use BGAN on a boat or vessel?

BGAN is designed for use on land.  However, 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.  The best alternative for vessels is to utilize FleetBroadband, which is the same BGAN service coupled with maritime stabilized antennas designed for life at sea.

How do I select the correct BGAN terminal?

This will depend upon factors such as your application (e.g. M2M or Streaming Video), whether you need communications on the move or stationary locations, antenna gain required for the locations you’ll be using the service, as well as the performance speeds you require.  Contact a BGAN specialist at NI to discuss your requirements and get a recommendation on the best model for your specific requirements.

What is Streaming IP & HDR?

Streaming IP & HDR are selectable, full-duplex, dedicated IP services of speeds from 32 Kbps to 800 Kbps.  It is designed for live video streaming and video conferencing applications.  Click here for more details on HDR.

Using BGAN

How do I make phone calls using a BGAN?

To make a phone call from a BGAN phone, dial the country code (e.g. USA 001) you are calling and then the area code and phone number (e.g. 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 BGAN phone, dial the country exit code (e.g. USA is 011) and then Inmarsat’s country code of 870, then the 9 digit BGAN phone number. Note that 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?

Dial 57 or +870 772 001 899 from the BGAN network. Then follow the instructions on the recorded voicemail message. The user will be asked to select a PIN number (typically four characters or more) and to state their name. They 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 their terminal. The user can then dial short code 57 to listen to the message.

How does Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) work over BGAN?

BGAN provides an IP bearer that is transparent to applications, including VoIP. BGAN has been tested with common VoIP providers such as Skype.  Note that 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 slightly depending upon which model of BGAN terminal you have.  Watch this video for a general demonstration.

What is the difference between BGAN Standard and Streaming IP?

Standard IP is a shared service connection, charged by the Megabyte of data transferred.  It is what you should use for basic Internet access, email, small file transfers, web access.  Streaming IP is a dedicated connection designed for live video streaming, very large file transfers or video conferencing and it is charged per minute of connection time.

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?

Inmarsat LaunchPad is a standard user interface that can be used across all land mobile BGAN terminals.  LaunchPad users may also download and install the Inmarsat-developed TCP Accelerator software, which significantly enhances the performance of TCP traffic in the ‘send’ direction.

Is ‘BGAN LaunchPad’ able to send an SMS text directly after registration?

Once registered, the BGAN LaunchPad software will be active and able to send and receive SMS.

Is each SMS sent charged separately over BGAN?

Yes. There is 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 pays for the SMS.

How does satellite network latency impact email performance?

Cause and effect latency, or delay experienced over the satellite network impacts the performance of acknowledgements and of packet sizes. The BGAN network typically provides a latency of between 900 – 1100 milliseconds. You can achieve a more cost-effective and efficient email service by ensuring that your email client/server settings have been optimised for satellite networks.

How many computers or SmartPhones, Tablets, can connect to a BGAN?

This varies by each BGAN terminal model.  Consult the technical user manual of your BGAN terminal for confirmation of the maximum number of devices supported or contact NI Technical Support.

What is a BGAN SIM Card?

A SIM card (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 a NI BGAN subscriber and give you access to the Inmarsat network. All BGAN devices require a SIM card.

How do I control usage and costs with my BGAN?

Network Innovations provides filtering, usage notifications with limits and auto-suspension to help you manage and control costs.  Additionally, it is imperative that you configure your IP devices to turn-off unnecessary background tasks that send/receive data (e.g. turn off updates while using BGAN).

Will BGAN work with a VPN?

Yes.  There are two methods that you can utilize.  If you have an existing VPN client application, you can utilize it over BGAN.  Alternatively, Network Innovations can establish a VPN connection from our POP to your corporate WAN/LAN to provide a secure connection and make your BGAN terminals part of your WAN.  The latter option is preferred for performance and lower cost of usage.

Can I get a Fixed Public IP Address for my BGAN?

Yes.  NI can provide a fixed public IP address upon request.  Another option is a VPN tunnel from our POP to your WAN/LAN to provide a subnet of IP addresses for a fleet of BGAN terminals.

What options exist for BGAN firewall or filtering?

Filtering can be done at the remote user level with software or filtering devices and/or configuration settings in the BGAN terminal.  Additionally, through NI’s SatControl we provide Network Access Policy (firewall) services which include: Configure named firewall rules (pre-defined and build your own), Assign firewall rules to specific SIM cards, Enable/disable the firewall on a per-SIM basis, Filter IP traffic in either direction on: IP address, network service port, IP protocol, Pass or block ICMP traffic.

How do I get BGAN call and usage reports (CDRs)?

CDRs are available via MySatCompass or contact NI for a report.

What is forced routing on BGAN?

Certain 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 data transmitted from terminals operating within their territories. In some cases a special APN value or static IP addresses are required when the BGAN terminal is within a country with forced routing. It also may be necessary to register your terminal with local authorities.

How can I get usage notifications and alerts for BGAN?

NI can provide usage notifications by email based upon volume used (Megabytes, minutes), dollars spent and these can be recurring based upon daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly or annual reporting intervals.  Multiple levels can be established with optional suspension limits.

Do I need a license to use my BGAN?

In some countries licensing is already established by Inmarsat (e.g. Canada/USA) and no additional licensing is required by the user.  In other countries, you may need to obtain a temporary usage authorization to bring your BGAN terminal into a specific country or work with one of NI’s Service Providers in-country that has established BGAN licensing for long term or permanent usage scenarios.

What is a BGAN APN?

An Access Point Name (APN) identifies the external network that is accessible from a terminal. By default, the SIM Card in your terminal is configured with the Network Innovations APN (Broadband.bgan.inmarsat.com), and the terminal reads this information from the SIM card.

The BGAN Network

How does the BGAN satellite network connect to the terrestrial Internet?

Your BGAN terminal connects to an Inmarsat satellite which in turn passes traffic to/from a ground station (SAS).  The Inmarsat ground station is connected to a redundant private ring that delivers the traffic to specific ‘meet me’ points.  Network Innovations operates a POP at various ‘meet me’ points to connect into the terrestrial Internet.  The NI POP is redundant, assuring a high level or availability for the complete path of the BGAN network.

Does the Sun cause any BGAN connectivity issues?

Sun outages (interference) caused by the passage of the Sun behind the satellite should not impact I-4 broadband services. The period of interference occurs twice a year and the duration of each event is limited to a few minutes. For the Inmarsat satellite access station (SAS) antennas these Sun outages are known beforehand and handled as part of nominal operations. The beamwidth of the L-band user terminals is such that 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 the published space weather environment, as provided by NOAA. At geostationary orbits (~36,000km above the Earth) a satellite is normally offered some protection from solar particles by the Earth’s magnetic field. But at times of high solar activity (e.g. during flares or coronal mass ejections) the extent of the Earth’s magnetic field can be reduced, resulting in the satellites being exposed to higher than normal flux of charged particles. The satellites are designed to handle increases in the charged particle environment, but no amount of shielding can provide total protection, so events do occur. These are sometimes referred to as single event upsets (SEUs). Typically, satellites have redundant on-board systems allowing a back-up to be used whilst an SEU is investigated and the affected equipment returned back to full operations. No interruptions to services are expected.

What is the maximum number of bearers in any one I-4 satellite spot beam for BGAN?

For I-4 broadband satelllite services this is dependent on demand. Inmarsat has the flexibility to dynamically assign spectrum and power where it is needed. Capacity can be adjusted and allocated depending upon demonstrated demand for the BGAN family of services.

What is the latency for the BGAN network?

The BGAN network typically provides a Latency of between 900 – 1100 milliseconds.

What frequency band does BGAN utilize?

BGAN operates on the L-Band frequency, which is the least susceptible frequency affected by rain fade, making it highly reliable in all weather conditions. BGAN Terminal Transmit and Receive Frequencies on 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).

Still have questions? Contact a BGAN Specialist