Those familiar with BGAN know that service is charged on the amount of data used over the network to the tune of about $5 per Megabyte transferred. Standard Internet use can eat up purchased Megabytes in a matter of hours if not minutes if one does not take some preventative steps to optimizes their equipment.
The following techniques shown below will drastically reduce Internet usage allowing BGAN users a global Internet connection with far less financial stress.
Microsoft is the biggest abuser of background auto-updates by transferring Megabytes of data quietly in the background. Turning off these Auto-Updates should be the first action any BGAN user takes when connecting to a BGAN. To turn off Windows Updates, go to the Windows control panel, and open up the Security Center. Inside you will find a selection to "Turn Off Automatic Updates".
Windows 10 and BGAN - Bad newsUnfortunately Windows 10 does not give the owner the option to stop all Windows 10 updates. Also the default setting of Windows 10 makes any computer a peer-to-peer transmitter of Windows 10 software to other computers that could potentially transmit Gigabytes of data without the owners knowledge. For these reasons and many others, we advise users to NOT use a Windows 10 computer since any data transferred over the BGAN network is billed. If you must use Windows 10, select "Metered Connection" from the Windows 10 control panel and ONLY CONNECT WITH WIFI since connecting by Ethernet on Windows 10 assumes the connection is not metered and background Microsoft update transfers resume (yes, we agree this is wrong of Microsoft, but fortunately there is a fix here). Selecting "Metered Connection" on WiFi does limit the amount of "unauthorized" data that Microsoft transfers over your expensive Internet connection. (If you can, please provide feedback to Microsoft and ask for an option to disable all Windows OS Internet communication because you're being billed $5 per Megabyte transferred - here is how).
Turn off the Auto-Update option on other programs
Auto-updates in such programs as Adobe Reader are easily disabled. Simply search for Information for disabling auto-update on all programs that are running on your computer.
There are programs available that monitor your connection to the Internet and will alert you when some program initiates a connection. ZoneAlarm is a free firewall program that alerts you with a PopUp window, and you select if you wish that program to connect or not.
Here is a bare-bones version of Zone Alarm for PC computers. The earlier versions of Zone Alarm like this one, are much better at catching all applications as new versions of Zone Alarm ignore many "popular" background applications.
Many of our BGAN clients are most interested in using their Email connection to transfer images and files as well as communicate with their organization. Email works fine over a BGAN connection and oftentimes it is not necessary to optimize. However, there is a simple trick with email where you set the mail client to "Download Headers Only". By doing this, an email client will only download the tiny headers of each email and NOT its body or attachments. Emails are read by clicking on them to start the download of that email. This little trick saves a tremendous about of data being transferred and is superior to Webmail (although Webmail isn't too bad because while you are downloading images from the webmail page, webmail does NOT download email attachments without first clicking on it).
If your email client doesn't have the option to "Download Headers Only", we recommend using Thunderbird, a free email client from Mozilla, the makers of Firefox.
Choose the right browser - Laptops
Choose the right browser - Smart devices - iPhones, iPads, Android phones
Smart devices can download the Opera Mini browser that has the wonderful feature of "low-bandwidth" configuration (why Opera doesn't make a version for PCs is beyond us). There are settings inside the Opera Mini browser that resample images and make them smaller. Take some time to learn the optimization functions of this powerful "Mini" browser. If there were ever a browser made for BGAN use, Opera Mini has our vote.
Install Ad blocking software for web browsing
Turn off browser Images (optional)
While the QuickJava option (shown above for Firefox) lets you toggle images on-and-off at the click of a mouse, an alternative uses your preferred browser to turn off images from downloading. The configuration is different for each browser, but for Internet Explorer, click on the "Tools" menu option and select "Internet Options". From the window that appears, select the "Advanced" tab. There are a host of things you may turn off, but the most important one is about 2/3rds the way down. Uncheck "Show pictures" and then click "Apply". Images are only part of what is being downloaded from any web page and we do recommend using QuickJava Add-On with Firefox for the best results.
By becoming familiar with how much data being transferring over a BGAN connection, one can estimate the remaining balance before a BGAN SIM suspends.
Use the BGAN terminal web interface usage screen
All BGAN terminals have a web interface that shows and approximate amount of data transmitted over the satellite Link. We can not stress enough to become familiar with the Interface of your BGAN terminal and locate the usage screen. All BGAN User Manuals show how find and read this screen which will show inbound and outbound traffic in Megabyte or Kilobytes, and often the number of minutes a phone call was made inbound or outbound.
To access the Web Interface of a BGAN terminal, type in this IP address from any connected browser:
Hughes BGAN: 192.168.128.100
Explorer BGAN: 22.214.171.124
Wideye BGAN: 126.96.36.199
We recommend to bookmarking the Web Interface on your browser.
Use network monitoring software
There is software you can install on your PC that shows how much data your computer is transferring real-time in both directions. Software like NetWorx or Bandwidth Monitoring Pro are excellent choices and we recommend using one before using over a BGAN connection to gain a fairly accurate estimate of usage when connected to the Internet.
NOTE - If you are running the BGAN LaunchPad software, this utility communicates constantly with the BGAN terminal with NON-satellite traffic, and will distort the total amount of data transferred. Please close the LaunchPad program for a more precise measurement of usage. Today we recommend our clients not use the BGAN Launchpad software since access the web Interface of any BGAN terminal offers the same control.
We recommend monitoring programs like NetWorx or Bandwidth Monitoring Pro
Make sure the terminal is pointed well
The higher the accuracy, the fewer dropped IP packets and information being retransmitted over the satellite link.
Close unused programs & Apps
Many programs auto-start on PCs or stay running on smart devices. To prevent them from communicating over the Internet, simply turn them off. On smartphones become familiar with how to close all running Apps. With iPhones, quickly press the home button twice to show all running Apps. "Swipe up" to close them individually. If in doubt, reboot.
Use wireless security or disable wireless access
Most BGAN terminals have integrated Wi-Fi, so make sure to enable wireless security to prevent unauthorized access. If you don't require your BGAN terminal for WiFi connectivity, you can turn WiFi off from the terminal web interface. Turning off WiFi has the added benefit of saving on battery power on the terminal.
Do not leave a connected computer unattended
Some web pages will refresh when unattended. Either close down all browser windows, or better yet disconnect the computer from the BGAN terminal to be 100% sure no information is able to transfer over the BGAN link. You may also turn off the BGAN terminal if you do not expect a phone call over it.
BGAN services is expensive. However if one employs the techniques described above, BGAN service becomes very cost effective. Broadband Internet and phone from a portable terminal located anywhere on the globe is here and quite viable. Pretty cool!
BGAN Optimized Laptop - $699
Ground Control offers configured netbooks using the techniques described on this page. These netbooks have Auto-Updates disabled, use Firefox with the QuickJava add-on installed, Email uses Thunderbird and shows how to configure for downloading headers only with your email service, it has installed Zone Alarm and usage monitoring software and more. These user-friendly utilities place the BGAN owner in complete control over what is transferred across the satellite network - More Information