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BGAN Frequently Asked Questions

Page Updated November 3, 2014

BGAN Terminals are the size of a laptop, but can provide high-speed Internet and phone from most any location on the globe with one BGAN service plan. When portability and global high-speed connectivity are required, BGAN and Inmarsat's IsatHub are the only two viable option we know of.

Frequently Asked Questions about BGAN Equipment and Service
Ask a BGAN question now. Email webmaster@groundcontrol.com - we're quick to answer

Who or What Is BGAN?

BGAN (pronounced "Be-gan") is short for "Broadband Global Area Network". This network is comprised of three satellites owned by Inmarsat. These three satellites are in stationary orbit around the planet so that no matter your location, you may connect with one of the satellites using any of the many BGAN Terminals. Only the extreme polar regions are unable to connect because line-of-sight to the orbiting satellite is not possible. Services available through a BGAN terminal are High-Speed Internet, Phone, Fax, ISDN, SMS Texting, and Streaming services, which are simply unshared Internet channels used by video/news broadcasters. Inmarsat has been a leader of global satellite communications services for over 30 years, and they license several manufactures to develop BGAN Terminals that communicate with any of the orbiting Inmarsat satellites. Ground Control offers all available BGAN terminals including two that we've developed, the MCD-4800 and the MCD-727.


Welcome to BGAN Video

 

Who do I buy my BGAN equipment and service from?

Ground Control. We have been a leader in mobile satellite Internet access since 2002. If there is a problem, we are your point of contact 24x7. Inmarsat itself does not sell direct to the public.

Where does BGAN work?

Here is a global Map of the BGAN Coverage Area. If you are within the colored area, you may connect to the Internet. The closer you are to the edge of the coverage area, the lower on the horizon the satellite will be. With Ground Control's BGAN service, you may connect to any of the three BGAN satellites without any modification to your service plan, software, or hardware. If you can see a BGAN satellite, you can connect.

map

How much does the service cost?

Ground Control has several BGAN service plans available and we recommend you speak with one of our representatives to choose a plan right for your needs. Here is a detail of our BGAN service pricing. Usage Only BGAN service is $69 a month and charges $6.99 for any Megabytes transferred above the free 2.5 included Megabytes in the plan (Why is BGAN service so expensive?). Ground Control does not charge for connection time and there are no per-minute costs with a standard IP Internet connection. While BGAN service is more expensive than our VSAT satellite dish service, the main advantage of BGAN is portability, and the fact anyone can operate it. If you make a phone call, (or fax) costs are fixed at .99 cents a minute to a standard phone/cell anywhere in the world. Calling is charged for outbound calls only, and you are not charged for incoming calls, although costs are charged to the calling party.

How Fast is BGAN?

BGAN has different Internet speeds depending on the kind of terminal used... click here for BGAN comparison chart. Testing in on a Hughes 9201 showed actual speeds between 300 to 420Kbps in both directions. Latency (or ping times) over the BGAN network are between 900 and 1700 milliseconds. (Actual ping test was on a BGAN located in California pinging a California website that showed a 950 milliseconds ping time in May, 2011).

 

Why are there so many BGAN terminals? What are the differences?

We agree it does appear confusing at first. There are more than 18 different kinds of BGAN terminals that all do the pretty much the same thing, which is connecting to Internet and voice calling. Some BGAN terminals have Wi-Fi, some are a bit faster than others, some are more rugged than others, some are better for broadcasting live news reports. Here is a BGAN Comparison Chart. Inmarsat allows manufactures to create BGAN terminals and the result is that the market is very competitive.

 

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Handset Phone for BGAN

How do I make calls using a phone connected to a BGAN?

For Instructions on using a BGAN phone, click here

 

How does the telephone service work?

Another helpful feature of BGAN terminals is excellent voice calling. Each terminal (or sim card in the terminal) is assigned two unique telephone numbers, one for phone, and the other for a fax line. Any standard corded or cordless phone may connect to a BGAN terminal, but we recommend using phones that do not require external power to operate since most of the time the BGAN will be used in no-power locations. A standard corded phone (aka analog phone) does work with BGAN, and these phones only require a couple of batteries to operate. Phones connected to a BGAN terminal act as as any normal phone with dial tone, and voice mail.

 

How does the Fax service work?

BGAN Fax uses the group 3 standard and has shown to work without issue on several FAX machines. Faxing service is by default turned off, unless requested on activation, or during the service term. There is no additional costs for activating FAX service with Ground Control. Making or receiving faxes is just as easy as making calls. Here is more information on Faxing over BGAN

 

Can anyone point the terminal?

Yes. The great thing about aiming any BGAN terminal is that they have a very wide vew angles, which means they start to see a BGAN satellite 20 to 50 degrees before they are aiming directly at it. The audible and visual pointing indicators make pointing a breeze since satellites are easily found within this wide view angle. Simply aim the BGAN to attain the highest frequency possible and press the registration button (which is different for each terminal). There is software that may be installed on a laptop called "BGAN Launchpad" that can help with aiming and registration. When you run the Launchpad software, it will communicate with any connected BGAN, and display elevation and compass heading of the closest BGAN satellite (once GPS has been automatically found). This can take out much of the guesswork of pointing a system. Most BGAN terminals have a built-in compass so finding the correct direction is not difficult. Pointing normally takes between 1 to 3 minutes.

 

How many computers may connect to a wireless BGAN terminal?

The Hughes 9201, 9202, and the Explorer 700/710 will allow up to 11 concurrent users via wireless. You will need a router or switch to connect more as there is only one Ethernet port on all BGANs (Except the Explorer 700/710, which has 2 Ethernet ports). You may connect a wireless router to non-wireless BGAN systems to make it wireless, although most wireless routers do require external power to operate. Explorer terminals do have Bluetooth wireless connectivity but configuration requires moderate knowledge of Bluetooth.

 

What is the BGAN Sim Card?

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The Sim Card is a small plastic chip that activates the terminal. Like an flip cell phone, it is the Sim Card that contains the account information. A Sim Card will work in any BGAN terminal from any manufacturer. You may own multiple Sim Cards, each with its own account. This is good for teams of people that can all have their own individual card/account but use the same BGAN terminal. Simply insert the Sim Card you wish to use, and turn the terminal on. Nothing else needs to be configured if the Sim Cards are from the same provider.

More Information on BGAN Sim Cards

 

What is the difference between BGAN Terminals and Satellite Dishes?

BGAN terminals are extremely portable and cost less than the satellite dish systems. They can be carried in a regular sized laptop case and connect anywhere for high speed Internet, phone and faxing. The bigger mobile satellite dishes weigh between 75 to 200 lbs and need to be mounted on a vehicle roof, or crated in a flyaway case. Transmitting data over a BGAN terminal is more expensive than a satellite dish system, but if you need portable high speed access, BGAN is by far the best solution.

 

Will the BGAN terminal work inside a building?

Yes, but only when pointing through a window, and with a slight drop in signal strength. Line-Of-Sight to the satellite is required for connectivity, and if the BGAN satellite is located high in the sky, connectivity from inside a building would be impossible. The terminal does need to acquire GPS, which may take a long time (or never) if the terminal is inside. You can take the terminal outside, acquire GPS (which is automatic, and requires no pointing), and then bring it inside for faster results. Many buyers choose a BGAN terminal with Wi-Fi, so they can place the terminal outside, and connect to it inside. The Hughes 9202, and the Hughes 9201 allow wireless devices to connect up to 100' feet from the terminal location.

 

Can the system be mounted on a building?

Yes. Many companies in remote regions mount the system to a wall using either an external antenna, or a mounting kit. Most BGAN terminals can be mounted outside. Ground Control recommends the Explorer 700/710, or the Hughes 9201 for normal use, and the Wideye Ranger or Hughes 9502 for M2M or SCADA operations.

 

How much power does the BGAN system use?

Most BGAN terminals run off rechargeable batteries, and directly form wall power (100 to 240 VAC) using an AC/DC power adapter. They also run from a 12 Volt (or 24 volt) DC vehicle power ports. While a system is pointed and idle, battery levels will last for approximately 36 hours on internal battery. If transmitting or receiving, power requirements are higher and battery power will be expended at a faster rate. However, normal usage has far more idle time than actual transmitting usage. You may consider a BGAN terminal much the same way a cell phone needs to be recharged from time to time, but does not need to be plugged in for usage. Also, if power is a concern, disable the wireless options and connect via Ethernet cable to conserve power. The 9201 and 9202 BGAN terminals use about 18 Watts of power when transmitting and 8 watts when idle making it a very easy system to use with a solar recharging system.

 

How do BGAN In-Motion systems work?

In-Motion BGAN terminals have a domed antennas that mount on any roof (normally magnetically). When the BGAN controller is plugged into a 12 volt power source, the antenna will automatically track and lock on satellite. In-vehicle connections are by Ethernet and some terminals have wireless access so that anyone with any wireless device within 100 feet of the vehicle may connect without using cables. For those on the edge of the BGAN coverage map, trees and mountains may become a factor from having a line-of-sight to the satellite, since the satellite will be lower on the horizon, and service may be irregular because trees and buildings will block the signal. Service plans for in-motion BGAN systems are identical to other BGAN services offered at Ground Control

 

Can I Stream Live Video over the system?

Yes, BGAN is a very effective solution for those wishing to cover live events and stream video that need portability. Recently, Cobham introduced the Explorer 710 BGAN Terminal that has streaming speeds of 650 Kbps, and over 1 Mbps when two are used. CNN won an award in September of 2007 for using BGAN 9201 systems for live broadcasts in Iraq. The Hughes 9201 offers Streaming committed information rates (CIR) of 32, 64, 128, 256 & 450 Kbps (and now 650Kbps with BGAN HDR Service), which means that no one else shares with your speed when you are connected so your speeds are predictable and your transmission will not be stalled, at least for the satellite link portion of the connection. Streaming services are selected using using the BGAN Launchpad at the time you connect your BGAN terminal.

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More Information on BGAN Streaming Services and Prices with Ground Control.

 

Will it work with both Mac and PC?

Yes. You connect to the BGAN terminal via Ethernet, or Wi-Fi, and you may access the BGAN web interface by typing in it's URL. From this interface, you may establish a connection. You may also use BGAN Launchpad Utility, which is available for both the MAC and PC. Finally, a very useful trick is to configure the BGAN terminal to automatically "register" and opening up a "data" session after you point the terminal, a process which will eliminate the need to run the Launchpad, or use the web Interface. Ground Control pre-configures all Hughes 9202's to auto connect by simply pressing the "X" registration button.

 

Can I get a Static/Public IP address for my BGAN?

Yes. One or more Public IP addresses (aka Static IP) are available for BGAN Sim Cards and the IP will stay Public no matter which of the three Inmarsat satellite the BGAN terminal connects with. This is perfect for high security applications linked to a corporate network using a VPN. Other common applications that require a Public IP are M2M SCADA devices, Video Conferencing, Video Encoders/Decoders. BGAN Public - Static IPs Pricing and Info

 

Can I Keep My Computer From Transferring Data Unknowingly?

Since BGAN usage is metered, you will want to turn off programs that auto-update such as Windows Update, or any Adobe product. We've developed an optimization guide to help you configure a computer to severely reduce, if not eliminate unwanted data transferring. more

 

How does the Wireless Access Point work?

Some BGAN terminals have integrated Wi-Fi systems (802.11 standard). By default, wireless access is disabled, so the first time connecting, you use an Ethernet cable to configure the wireless parameters from the BGAN Terminal Web Interface. All terminals have WEP security and some have MAC filtering to keep your connection very secure.

The Explorer BGAN terminals can use bluetooth data access with a range of 100 feet, and by default, it too is disabled until enabled by the owner. We recommend using a simple wireless router for multi-computer connections if you are unfamiliar with Bluetooth data.

Enabling Wi-Fi on BGAN a terminal will draw extra power from the battery. If you plan to run off battery for an extended period of time, we recommend turning off the wireless and use an Ethernet cable.

 

How does weather affect the terminal's ability to connect?

BGAN terminals use the "L- band" radio frequency, a low frequency that is much less susceptible to rain fade than much larger satellite dish systems. BGAN terminals operate very well in sever weather.

 

What Frequency Band does BGAN use?

BGAN is on the "L" Band with the terminal receiving (Rx) frequencies of 1525.0-1559.0MHz & transmitting (Tx) frequencies of 1626.5-1660.5MHz. More information on BGAN Frequencies.

 

What is BGAN "Wide Beam" and "Narrow Beam"?

Each of the BGAN satellites emit two types of beams down on the planet surface. The Wide beam is one large beam like a wide-angle lens that looks at most of the earth. This beam is used for Voice calling, and SMS texting. Narrow "spot" beams are much smaller in size. It takes over 100 overlapping narrow beams to cover the same amount as one wide-beam. The narrow beam is used to pass data traffic. On the BGAN Launchpad, when you "Register with the network" you are registering with the "Wide Beam" and are able to make and receive voice calls. When you open a "Data Session" to connect to the Internet, you are connecting with a BGAN Narrow Spot beam. More information on Wide Beam and Narrow Beam with Inmarsat BGAN.

 

Can I connect to the BGAN network anywhere in the world?

Yes, and many are doing just this. With the included universal power adapters, you can plug most systems in to available AC wall power sources to recharge the onboard batteries.

 

Can I use BGAN service on a boat or vessel?

Yes... even on the open ocean. There may been a time when Inmarsat had a suspension policy on such use, but it has not been enforced to our knowledge. We recommend the auto-pointing BGAN MCD-4800 case as an excellent global Wi-Fi hotspot. If ocean travel is stable, even fixed terminals such as the Wideye Sabre, the Explorer 300 or Explorer 500, and the Hughes 9202 would all work. These BGAN terminals have wide angle signal locks, where a terminal may be off by more than 10 degrees and still maintain connectivity. Please note that Inmarsat has created FleetBroadband which uses the same BGAN network using well designed sea worthy antennas.

 

Can I purchase a system anywhere in the world?

Yes. Ground Control will ship to most countries, or to any International freight-forwarding service you request in the United States. Please contact a Ground Control sales representative for more information. You can use Google Translate to convert your message into English and email us at sales@groundcontrol.com

 

Are there BGAN Users Manuals?

Yes, User Manuals for all our BGAN products are located on its respective product page. Here is a link to All BGAN Terminals

 

How Secure is A BGAN Terminal?

Ground Control offers a highly configurable online BGAN Firewall options to create rock solid whitelists or blacklists for connectivity at no additional cost. We also offer other Security Options For BGAN including private networking and BGAN VPN.

 

Will BGAN work with VPN?

Yes. Many have used their existing VPN successfully, but not all VPN is the same, and not all VPN will work. Please contact us for details. Ground Control offers an IP Sec VPN for BGAN as well as BGAN Private Networking. BGAN terminals have been tested to work with multiple VPN's over the Inmarsat BGAN network including Cisco Client V1 & V2, Nortel-Contivity, Netscreen Remote Client 8.1, Checkpoint 4.1, and SonicWall. Please call Ground Control for more information.

 

How do I access the BGAN Web Interface?

All 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.

 
BGAN Terminal Access Web Interface URL
Wideye Sabre 1 192.168.1.35
Wideye Ranger 192.168.1.35
Explorer 100/110 192.168.0.1
Explorer 300 192.168.0.1
Explorer 500 192.168.0.1
Explorer 700 192.168.0.1
Explorer 710 192.168.0.1
Hughes 9201 192.168.128.100
Hughes 9202 192.168.128.100
Hughes 9211 192.168.128.100
Hughes 9502 192.168.128.100
MCD-4800 The Football 192.168.128.200
MCD-727 192.168.0.1

In-Motion BGAN Terminals - Vehicle Mounted

 
Wideye Safari 192.168.1.35
Explorer 325 192.168.0.1
Explorer 727 192.168.0.1
Hughes 9350-C10 192.168.128.100
Hughes 9350-C11 192.168.128.100
Hughes 9450 192.168.128.100
IsatHub iSavi 192.168.1.35 or simply iSavi
 
 

Can I create a Private Network?

Yes. Ground Control can arrange for leased line to connect your organization to the BGAN Network Operations Center closest to your headquarters. Please speak with a Ground Control representative for more information about your specific requirements.

 

Can I add funds to my existing BGAN Sim Card?

Yes. You may either call us, or use our Online BGAN Deposit Refill Form to add funds to your existing BGAN account with Ground Control.

 
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