Inmarsat BGAN is currently the standard of comparison for portable satellite broadband internet service.   Though ThurayaIP has a much smaller coverage area than BGAN, if you are working in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Indonesia or Australia,  a ThurayaIP satellite terminal should be considered carefully.

Thuraya IP has similar data speed performance, uses a smaller portable terminal, and if you are a heavy data user, potentially could save you a significant amount on operating costs.  Below we have listed some key differences for your consideration.

Thuraya IP versus Inmarsat BGAN

  • Coverage Area:    ThurayaIP coverage is limited to Europe, the Middle East, Indonesia, Australia, and parts of the Middle East, Africa and Asia.  Inmarsat BGAN provides global coverage except for the polar caps.
  • Data Speed:   Speeds up to 444 kbps for standard IP data internet access.  For comparison, Inmarsat BGAN offers 492 kbps internet access.  New higher BGAN HDR streaming IP speeds are available on the Cobham EXPLORER 710 BGAN terminal.
  • Connection Options:  The ThurayaIP terminal has USB, Ethernet, and wireless LAN connectivity.   There are a wide variety of BGAN models. Most have Ethernet and WiFi or Ethernet and Bluetooth data connectivity.  Some also have USB data ports.
  • Antenna Options:   External and vehicular antennas are available for the ThurayaIP.   External all-weather antennas are also available for most Inmarsat BGAN models.   Vehicular Inmarsat BGAN equipment is available.

Cost Comparison

The main cost advantage of ThurayaIP is for users with data usage exceeding 500 MB per month.  For these customers, unlimited ThurayaIP standard IP data plans offer a potentially massive cost benefit.  These plans also have a much shorter term requirement than available for Inmarsat BGAN plans.

Thuraya offers a plan with unlimited use of 144 kbps or 444 kbps standard IP data on a best-effort basis. The only caveat is that after 15 GB of usage in a single month the best-effort data speed is throttled down to 32 kbps for the remainder of the month.  Fair Use Policies of this type are common for unlimited usage internet access plans.

For most users, ThurayaIP and BGAN terminals are comparable in cost.  

Weaknesses of Thuraya IP compared to Inmarsat BGAN

Inmarsat BGAN offers voice, ISDN, standard IP data and streaming IP data. Thuraya IP only offers standard IP data and streaming IP data, but it has a similar-sized portable terminal and overall much lower usage costs, at least for heavy data use applications.  If you need voice calling and SMS capability through Thuraya, this can be achieved by purchasing a separate handheld Thuraya XT-PRO satellite phone.*

* All prices and rates mentioned in this article are based on Outfitter Satellite published pricing during November 2016 but are subject to change without notice.