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BGAN payload launched aboard Inmarsat 4

17 Mar 2005

The first launch of the BGAN payload represents a major step in making global mobile broadband services a reality, whether at sea, in the air or on land virtually anywhere in the world.

After the first two satellites are fully operational later in 2005, Inmarsat's BGAN (Broadband Global Area Network) service will cover 85% of the Earth's surface from Geo-Stationary Orbit. A third may be launched, providing near total global coverage.

BGAN can provide users a strong range of functionality, including voice, 64kbit/s ISDN, variable-rate packet switched IP-based data services and messaging service (SMS). For end users these high-bandwidth services will mean faster email, Internet access, videoconferencing, general data transfer and other mobile office applications, at speed rates in the range of 216 Kbps to 432 Kbps in downlink, and 72 Kbps to 432 Kbps in uplink, depending on the type of terminal.

BGAN can provide a circuit-switched voice-based service as well as datapacket-switched services and IP services. For end users these high-bandwidth services will mean faster email, Internet access, videoconferencing and LAN, at speeds in the range of 216 Kbps to 432 Kbps in downlink, and 72 Kbps to 432 Kbps in uplink. Variances depend on type of terminal being used.

"The world has just got a little smaller," announced Andrew Sukawaty, CEO of Inmarsat. "BGAN will deliver unprecedented data speeds for a mobile satellite communications service and coupled with one of the largest and most powerful commercial satellites creates satellite telecommunications history."


At its inception, BGAN was specified to only support point-to-point telecommunication services on portable and semi fixed land mobile platforms. An agreement signed on 15 December 2003, between ESA and Inmarsat paved the way for the BGAN Extension, expanding the benefits of this mobile satellite based system in two domains:

  • Provision of BGAN services in aeronautical, maritime, land-vehicular and Omni-directional scenarios.
  • Introduction of BGAN Multicast Service extension for the provision of point-to-multipoint communications.

At its inception, BGAN was specified to only support point-to-point telecommunication services on portable and semi fixed land mobile platforms. An agreement signed on 15 December 2003, between ESA and Inmarsat paved the way for the BGAN Extension, expanding the benefits of satellite based high speed broadband to the aeronautical and maritime communities as well as adding point-to-multipoint capability.

Under the terms of the agreement, ESA funded 50% of the project and provided technical support and was the first collaboration between ESA and Inmarsat on system engineering activities.

The extension of low-cost Broadband connections to maritime and aeronautical communities will improve the quality of tele-services such as: telemedicine and disaster relief. The inclusion of omni-directional terminals extends voice and data services to other mobile communities who require smaller and cheaper terminals.

The BGAN payload was launched aboard the first Inmarsat-4 (I-4) satellite from Cape Canaveral USA on 11 March 2005. After attaining GEO, 36,000km above the Indian Ocean at 64° east, Inmarsat's footprint will cover Europe, Africa, the Middle East, the Indian sub-continent, most of Asia Pacific, and Western Australia.

In the context of Satellite Navigation, the Inmarsat 4 satellite will be the first ever satellite providing simultaneously downlink broadcast services in both GPS L1 and GPS L5 frequencies. This satellite, providing European coverage, opens the door for future EGNOS modernisation, towards provision of SBAS L5 services. In this context, an important first step is the possibility of using this satellite for the provision of the L1/L5 ESA's EGNOS test bed signal from this summer 2005. ESA and INMARSAT are currently jointly assessing this possibilit that could provide Europe with an important advantage on the SBAS L5 future Technology development.

To read more about the BGAN Extension just click on the link provided at the right of this page.

Launch images courtesy of Inmarsat


Last Update: 15 Feb 2007
 
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