What is BGAN HDR?

On December 3, 2013,  Inmarsat rolled out its new extremely fast High Data Rate or HDR streaming service.  HDR is supported on several Inmarsat BGAN terminals models including the EXPLORER 710.  Full-channel HDR provides a streaming data rate that is typically 650-700 kbps.

HDR immediately became a critical tool for broadcast media companies operating in frontline news situations in remote areas around the globe.  Inmarsat BGAN HDR is also useful as a back up for broadcasters relying on cellular bonding solutions.

There are four flavors of BGAN High Data Rate service

Before High Data Rate streaming became available, Inmarsat already offered 8k, 16k, 32k, 64k, 128k, 176k, 256K, and BGAN X-stream.  X-stream typically is about 384 kbps.  There are four flavors of streaming IP High Data Rate service:

  • Half-channel asymmetric
  • Half-channel symmetric
  • Full-channel asymmetric
  • Full-channel symmetric

The asymmetric modes offer HDR in the upload direction but only 64 kbps in the download direction.   The symmetric modes offer HDR in both the upload and download directions.   Asymmetric service is more economical  and aimed at applications such as video broadcasting where the upload speed is of primary importance.   Symmetric service is more useful for applications such as VPN and video conferencing where two-directional high speed streaming data is necessary.

The minimum data rate for full-channel HDR is 580 kbps but the typical observed performance on the EXPLORER 710 during recent tests is between 650 kbps and 700 kbps.  Speeds as high as 800 kbps can occur.  Half-channel, of course, refers to speeds half those of full-channel.

So how much does HDR cost to use?

Outfitter Satellite offers postpaid and prepaid Inmarsat BGAN HDR service.   As of today's writing (January 2016) if you purchased a 10,000-unit prepaid SIM card from Outfitter Satellite, here is what it would cost and what you could accomplish with it:

  • The 10,000-unit prepaid voucher would cost $6468 USD plus USF fees and other fees or taxes if applicable.  (Smaller vouchers are available).
  • Standard IP data -- which is offered without a guaranteed data rate -- is billed by the number of megabytes transferred.  If you operate the BGAN terminal in Standard IP data mode, it consumes 9.1 units of prepaid per MB (megabyte) of data transferred up or down.  That works out to about $5.89 per MB transferred.
  • HDR Full Channel Asymmetric consumes 32-units of prepaid per minute of connection time. That works out to about $20.70 per minute.   Assuming you achieve a typical upload data rate of 650 kbps you would be able to upload about 4.65 MB per minute. That works out to about $4.45 per MB uploaded.

It is interesting that the cost per MB for Standard IP data is actually higher than it is for HDR Full Channel Asymmetric even though the latter is much faster.   That means HDR Full Channel Asymmetric is also useful for uploading other types of large data files.

Which Inmarsat BGAN models support HDR?

The Cobham EXPLORER 710 (shown above) and the Hughes 9211-HDR support HDR.  The EXPLORER 710 came out first and has the longest track record.  We have tested it thoroughly and have found it to be exceptionally easy to use.  If 650-700 kbps is not fast enough for you, two EXPLORER 710 terminals in HDR Full-Channel Asymmetric mode can be bonded together to achieve speeds as high as 1.2-1.4 Mbps.*   Here is a quick overview of the features of the EXPLORER 710:

  • Weight:  7.7 lb with battery
  • Hot-swap battery feature
  • Two LAN ports, one of which has PoE
  • 802.11 b/g Wi-Fi
  • Embedded SIP server
  • iOS and Android smart phones can make phone calls over the 710 wirelessly using a free app
  • telephone port for conventional phone equipment supports standard voice quality and premium voice quality
  • Remote activation and management
  • Advanced built-in router

*Any prices, terms and conditions mentioned in this article are accurate as of the date that the BLOG article is posted but prices, terms and conditions are subject to change without notice.  The 650-700 kbps data rate and the 1.2-1.4 Mbps data rate mentioned in this article are typical but not guaranteed rates.  Please call us at 615-889-8833 for current pricing information.

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