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Inmarsat launches BGAN satellite

The Inmarsat-4 satellite blasted into space Nov. 8 ushering in broadband global area network (BGAN) service for most areas of the United States.

Already available outside this country, the service in the United States is expected to be commercially available in spring 2006.

Used with store-and-forward file transfer techniques for applications such as filing video footage and audio clips from the field, BGAN offers an alternative to traditional satellite newsgathering trucks and fly-aways. Store-and-forward is critical to successful use in a broadcast application because BGAN bandwidth will be limited to about 425Kb/s.

The size of the uplink terminal required is small — about the size of a laptop computer. The service will also provide coverage where it would be impractical to drive an SNG truck, such as the top of a mountain or from a remote field. Print, Web-based and video journalists are already using BGAN terminals and service to file text, still photos and video from remote destinations.

The recent launch extends BGAN service to much of the United States, and may set in motion a re-evaluation of how ENG assets are deployed.

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