BGAN satellite technology: What is it, what is it for and what are its advantages?

On October 4, 1957, the first artificial satellite was launched. It was Sputnik I. It was sent from the Soviet Union out of the Earth’s orbit. This milestone marked the beginning of the space age. Here, competition among the world’s powers to create the best technology laid the foundation for the devices we know today as everyday.

Since then, more than 2500 satellites have been launched. Many of them now operate mainly for telecommunications. Mobile phone calls, GPS location, maps as we know them today, among other things, would not exist.

In this post we will discuss one of the satellite technologies that can connect a person to the Internet, from anywhere on earth.

What is BGAN technology and what is it used for in telecommunications?

As its acronym indicates (Broadband Global Area Network) it is a global broadband area. In other words, it is a satellite communication connection system. It serves to transmit and receive data through a small portable device, directly to the satellite. Without the need for an external antenna.

BGAN can transmit at speed rates up to 492 Kbps, guaranteeing a minimum of 256 Kbps. It allows you to connect to the Internet, use messaging services, video calls, download and send files simultaneously. This is possible because the company uses Inmarsat I-4 civil communication satellites (the most advanced so far).

As far as the user terminal is concerned, it is not larger or heavier than a standard laptop. In addition, it offers Wifi, Bluetooth, USB and LAN connection if you want to pair another device.

The main function of this technology is to connect people in remote parts of the planet (except for the poles, given the earth’s shape). It is designed for people who move from one place to another. Unlike VSAT technology, which requires an antenna that is difficult to install.

What are the main characteristics of Internet connections by BGAN?

Within the functions of this communication system, we can establish the following basic characteristics:

  • Up and down speed up to 492kbit per second.
  • Latency of 1 to 1.5 seconds for IP services in the background
  • 800ms per second for streaming services
  • Support for all major VPN products.
  • Costs per megabyte 7.50 (varies slightly depending on the plan contracted).
  • Voice calls for 1 euro per minute.
  • Easy configuration (no expert required)
  • It does not require precise positioning. Unlike other systems with a parabolic antenna.
  • It does not suffer due to changes in weather conditions, e.g. rain or cloudy days.

How does BGAN improve on other satellite Internet connections?

There are multiple Internet services via satellite. VSAT, iDirect, Tooway, among others. We will mention in this case the comparative advantages of BGAN over the others:

  • Easy operation of the terminal. Since it does not require locating or directing it as accurately as other systems. That is, it does not need to be focused on precise points in the sky.
  • It uses the L-band type. This makes it easy to connect to the satellite in rainy or even snowy weather.
  • Recommended for mobile use. It is the best option for use on a trip, eventual video transmissions, rescue teams, use at sea, etc.
  • Designed for individual users. Although a VSAT connection can be more economical if you consider that several people can connect to it. For eventual use, BGAN is ideal, because only the data used can be paid for.
  • It’s cheaper. The equipment needed for the connection is cheaper compared to other systems. This is because it does not require satellite dishes, professionals for the installation, etc.
  • Coverage area. We’re talking about the entire globe.
  • Portability. The terminals are similar in size to any laptop. In addition, they have a rechargeable battery, which is indicated for use in places with no connection to the electricity grid.

Types of BGAN What are the main services of these connections?

The satellite company Inmarsat, offers different types of service for land mobile terminals. These are:


This service offers the possibility of Internet connection, telephone, SMS, Fax and video calls. It is designed for all terminal models, except for the one used for M2M.

Standard +

Launched in 2017, it offers a plus over the previous one. Unlimited Internet use is available, in addition to the possibilities of its predecessor. 5MB per month is authorized, and in case of exceeding that transfer, it is paid later.


It means “machine to machine“. This is an optimized service for cases where a minimum of transfer is required. For example, control and monitoring devices. Only available for the Hughes 9502 BGAN terminal model.


Main competence of VSAT systems. It is suitable for low mobility needs. Or for temporary establishment in a site. Offers up to 30 GB monthly transfer and in some regions, unlimited. Can only be used with a BGAN Class 1 device. They can be moved up to 4 times a year with an extra cost for each move.

Importance of BGAN What are the sectors that most need this type of connection?

Any person or institution that has the economic means to acquire this equipment and service can do so. However, it would be a waste to have a ground connection, as it is cheaper and more stable. However, there are cases where such a tool is ideal. Let’s look at them:

  • Media. Can be used for live transmissions in areas without traditional coverage. Even war photographers or wildlife photographers can send their captures to the publisher in real time.
  • Expedition transport. Especially the military, can count on the ability to transmit data immediately from anywhere in the world.
  • Emergency services. We are not just talking about rescuers, BGAN is ideal for seismic prevention devices or other natural disasters.
  • Engineering companies. For example mines, since they are established for a long time in one place, but at the same time not permanent.

This post is also available in: Português (Portuguese (Brazil))

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