The differences between BGAN and VSAT
Solutions in the world of technology advance to improve our work and provide services in a timely and agile manner. Along with AXESS, the leading technology and satellite communication solutions company in Latin America you can learn about the characteristics of BGAN and VSAT.
VSAT (Very Small Aperture Terminal), are satellite terminals of normally fixed, bidirectional use and with reflectors ranging between 75 cm and 1.2 meters on average. Initially it was implemented in C band (4 and 6 GHz) and then Ku band (12 and 14 GHz). Today is also offered in Ka band. (20 and 31 GHz).
BGAN (Broadband Global Area Network) offers high-speed voice and data connectivity, through terminals that are the size of a laptop. It is a mobile satellite service that provides broadband data transmission with simultaneous voice transmission and operates in the L band.
• BGAN is easier to operate because it does not require precise positioning in the terminal, while VSAT needs to focus on exact points in the sky. The latter, due to its radial spectrum, has more usable bandwidth.
• Another difference is related to the area of the spectrum or band that is used. The L band (used by BGAN) does not suffer due to changes in weather conditions, while VSAT in the Ka band and to a lesser extent the Ku band is affected by snow and rain.
• VSAT is best for a permanent installation that needs ample bandwidth, for example, to provide Internet to many users at the same time in hard to reach areas. BGAN is more appropriate for eventual or mobile use: emergency equipment, live video streaming in remote sites, vehicles at sea and on land.
Their advantages and disadvantages
Let’s review several aspects that offer a broad overview to know in detail two business technology options, which will surely enhance the decision-making process, depending on your needs:
• Data volume: The amount of data that you will send or receive through the satellite link will be a key factor, due to the significant impact on operating costs. When moving large amounts of data, in the long term, VSAT will be the best option.
• Link speed: BGAN offers standard IP connection with 490 Kbps peak speed and IP transmission service with selectable speeds from 32 to 384 Kbps. The VSAT bandwidth can be selected from 64 K at multiple Megabits per second.
• Number of concurrent users: Apart from the speed and amount of transmission data, consider how many simultaneous users will be using the link. In general, BGAN is for individual users or small teams with basic needs. VSAT can accommodate large operations where it can have dozens of users and a wider base of applications.
• Cost: BGAN directional antennas and automatic tracking units are cheaper. VSAT has a fixed monthly rate based on link speed and bandwidth; this value is based on the use of Gigabytes. The standard BGAN IP service is charged per megabyte of data transferred / received.
• Coverage: Inmarsat provides almost global coverage for BGAN, with terminals in South America, Africa, Europe or Asia. Meanwhile, VSAT, in most cases, needs separate contracts on different satellites and teleports to achieve global coverage.
• Ease of use: BGAN is suitable for any user to configure, point and connect their PC or a telephone to a terminal. Fixed VSAT systems require a trained technician with a spectrum analyzer to aim and reach the peak of the terminal, and will require two people to assemble or move the equipment.
• Form factor: VSAT terminals vary between 1 mt to 2.4 mts in diameter, but the antennas must be mounted on 2″ posts or on roof brackets with 500 to 1,000 pounds of ballast. BGAN terminals are much smaller and include a rechargeable battery, so they do not need to be attached to a power source.
• Licensing: Regarding the import and licensing worldwide, it should be noted that these vary from one country to another. In general, BGAN licenses are less expensive than VSAT licenses, but you should analyze your case with Network Innovations to get guidance on what to expect in the different countries where you need to operate.