UK-based satellite operator Inmarsat this week switched on the first of two satellites offering mobile voice and high speed IP data services in the latest stage of a six-year project costing Eur1.3 billion.
The project, dubbed Broadband Global Area Network (BGAN), is designed to provide both mobile voice and broadband data simultaneously, with guaranteed IP data rates on demand. The latest move follows on from the launch of two of the world’s largest commercial satellites in March and November of this year.
Initially, BGAN will provide services across Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia, but following the activation of the operator’s second satellite, services will be extended to North and South America in the second quarter of 2006.
Ultimately, the two I-4 satellites will deliver broadband coverage across 85 per cent of the world's landmass and 98 per cent of the world's population, delivering IP data speeds of up to 492kbps, with guaranteed data rates up to 256kbps, potentially making it faster than 3G UMTS services.
Users would be able to browse the web, use email and stream video, audio and voice calls, all over a secure IP VPN connection, while the service launch is supported by a range of lightweight satellite terminals, similar in size to a standard laptop.
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