Mobile Internet Communications

Mobile Satellite Internet Terminals

There are two satellite internet terminal providers: Inmarsat Broadband Global Area Network (BGAN) and Thuraya Internet Protocol (T-IP). BGANs provide global coverage, T-IPs are limited to Europe, Middle East, Indonesia, Australia and parts of Africa and Asia. Both BGAN and T-IP offer Ethernet, wireless, and USB connectivity. Most mobile internet terminals require specific orientation to capture the satellite signal and can have their signal interrupted by adverse weather, buildings and other interference.

Data charges can be quite expensive for these terminals. For offices expected to rely heavily on the terminal, T-IP offers an unlimited data plan. The lower speed Thuraya IP unlimited usage plans costs 2,750 USD per month. In comparison, BGAN offers mid-level plans that would start at 440 USD per month for 92 MB with additional usage billed at 4.75 USD per MB. Usage of 500 MB per month would approach the price of the Thuraya unlimited plan. BGAN produces a range of satellite terminals that provide internet access, voice calling and video conferencing. The cheaper models require laptops to be plugged in with an analog phone cord. More advance models allow Bluetooth and/or wireless connections. Vehicle based BGANs are also available.

The main features that BGAN offers that are not available from T-IP is voice calling, SMS , ISDN services, and Bluetooth . BGAN has a variety of models with different bandwidth capacities so teams can select the bandwidth size they think works with their connectivity needs. Most CRS emergency teams will be relying on satellite and cellular phones for these needs, and thus would not require them from their satellite internet terminal.

Mobile Satellite Internet Terminals
Sample Products BGAN Thrane Explorer 300/ Thuraya IP
Manufacturer link: Inmarsat (BGAN) / Thuraya
EFOM link: Inmarsat (BGAN) Thrane Explorer 300 / Thuraya IP
Purchase Cost $1,300-5,000
Running Costs $3-$7 per MB
Advantages Lightweight, very mobile, low purchase cost when compared to VSAT, easy to set up,
Disadvantages Limited number of concurent users (1-3), expensive to run, slow connection speeds,
Ideal use. Assessment and mobile teams, and during the initial set up of new offices to move low volumes of data.

IMPORTANT:

To help reduce costs it is possible to reduce data usage by disabling picture download functions.

Ensure that CRS IT has tested all internet terminals before deployment. Field teams need to be briefed on operation and troubleshooting and simple written instructions should be kept with the unit.

Field sites that will use satellite internet connections need to take care that all components are testing and operational before deployment and that field teams have comprehensive training on use and trouble shooting. Most satellite internet terminals require specific orientation to capture the satellite signal and can have their signal interrupted by adverse weather, buildings and other interference.