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Communications Technology

Inmarsat Brings 3G Broadband to North America 129

Jessup writes "The Earth just got one step closer to true global broadband through satellite based communications. With the launch of the Zenit-3SL rocket the Inmarsat-4 F2 satellite brings 3G high speed cell technology to North America. From the article: 'Their onboard technology is designed to allow people to set up virtual offices anywhere around the world via high-speed broadband connections and new 3G phone technology.'"
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Inmarsat Brings 3G Broadband to North America

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  • Yay! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Daedius ( 740129 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2005 @08:37PM (#13984223)
    Now were only 2 years behind Korea, Japan, and the rest of the 3G world!
    • This is the sad reality in many of the technical areas. Our cell phones are always the "old models" Japan and the rest of S.E. Asia has already seen. Frankly, with global markets, I'm still baffled why we have to wait 12 months or more to see these kinds of things. Remember when the PlayStation 2 came out? Japan had it first, despite the fact that the sales in the US probably outnumbered those in Japan by a bg margin.
      • That's a stupid comment. Sony is Japanese. The PS2 is obviously going to be released there first, just like the Nintendo systems unlike the XBox which would obviously be released in America first because, holy hell, Microsoft is a US company. And of course we would sell more. We have a larger bloody citizen base than they do. Their whole country would fit in california and half our population.
        • by tob ( 7310 )
          Tivo is Philips is dutch. I still have not seen Tivo systems for sale in the Netherlands. Your theory does not hold.

      • Re:Yay! (Score:4, Funny)

        by Simon Garlick ( 104721 ) on Wednesday November 09, 2005 @03:00AM (#13986675)
        The USA has always been years, if not decades, behind the rest of the world in mobile technology. While the entire world built mobile networks based on the GSM standard -- with transmissions at 900MHz and 1800Mhz -- the USA refused, since one or both (I forget) of those frequencies was reserved for military use. Rather than coming up with a workaround or joining the international groups and proposing an amendment to the GSM spec, the USA just said "Screw you, commies! We don't need your stinkin' European phone system! Freedom Fries! USA! USA!"
        • Re:Yay! (Score:3, Informative)

          by drwho ( 4190 )
          You're jumping up and down about nothing. GSM has been in the US for a while. Systems other than GSM had been used in Europe besides GSM, and CDMA is still used throughout China. CDMA has it's advantages, so does GSM. If anyone cares, I can pull out the references.

          There's many things to get annoyed at the US government for. Not standardizing on GSM is not one of them.
        • On the other hand, while everyone was yelling commie, we were also developing CDMA technology that is now the foundation of every latest-generation cellular system in the world, including all of those systems that were using GSM. If you actually knew anything about the history of such systems and something about capital-intensive businesses, you would realize that when a new technology, like GSM was at some point, comes about, that cellular companies cannot simply uplug their subscribers and spend billins t
    • "Now were only 2 years behind Korea, Japan, and the rest of the 3G world!"

      Of course, this isn't at all related to 3G mobile phone systems, which we have had for over four years (CDMA2000 1xRTT qualifies).

      But, hey, it's a joke aimed at the US, and this is Slashdot - never let facts get in the way.
  • Two? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Dekortage ( 697532 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2005 @08:38PM (#13984226) Homepage

    From the article: "It is the second in a planned two-satellite constellation."

    It only takes two items to make a constellation?? Three would be a crowd, I guess.

  • But is the world mature enough for that?
    I was under the impression that 3G would be an overkill, till the mobiles etc does get mature enough for that..

    Come to think of that, even now 2G is unavailable at quite a few places.
    • 3G and 2.5G have been available in many, many places throughout the world, for several years now, with handsets utilising all sorts of features, like two way video calling, video on demand, streaming data feeds.

      The US, at least, is woefully behind the times.

    • It's more a question wether the cell companies are mature enough for it. Personally I'd bet they're going to price themselves out of the game with 3G and get clobbered by wlan/voip, the same way they clobbered Iridium once upon a time.

      Cheaper and faster but lower coverage networks will simply wreak havoc with the size of the customer base for services which arent that essential.
  • by AndyFewt ( 694753 ) * on Tuesday November 08, 2005 @08:44PM (#13984254)
    "Virtual offices".. yeh ok, we all know it will be used for porn, porn and more porn. 3G porn on the go!
  • What kind of reporting tells us in detail about the "innovative" use of oil drilling platform tech, but not *how fast this "3G" connection is*? It's just PR, not reporting. And since US "3G" means "whatever the phone company sells you and calls 3G", there's no way to find out. Thanks, BBC!
    • Re:Threegeeper (Score:3, Informative)

      by ptbarnett ( 159784 )
      What kind of reporting tells us in detail about the "innovative" use of oil drilling platform tech, but not *how fast this "3G" connection is*?

      Yes, the article is lacking. But, you can get the answer by googling for "BGan Inmarsat" (I got the terms from TFA). Or you can go directly to Inmarsat's webpage: o p_level_id=31&language=EN&textonly=False [].

      It's up to 492Kbps, send and receive, for variable bit rate. For guaranteed bit rate, it's up to

    • . . . about the most info I can find so far comes from their press release []

      BGAN is an IP and circuit-switched service that will offer voice telephony and a sophisticated range of high-bandwidth services, including internet access, videoconferencing, LAN and other data services, at speeds up to half a megabit per second.

      Of course this means jack-shit in real world practicalities, and don't forget it doesn't mention those wonderful ping times.

      So all in all, a fairly useless piece of info, but hey, at le
  • by Sheetrock ( 152993 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2005 @08:45PM (#13984262) Homepage Journal
    Most of the world is still using 2Ghz computers. Does this mean they simply won't be able to communicate as fast as 3G (i.e. only use ¾ of the pipe) or are they completely unable to sync?
    • by Bananatree3 ( 872975 ) * on Tuesday November 08, 2005 @09:06PM (#13984391)
      3G actually stands for "3rd-generation", and is describing a generation of mobile telephone technology. Check out the Wikipedia article for more: []
      • No, 3G refers to how many 'G' bills you'll need to shell out to Verizon for this technology on a crippled DRM enabled firmware locked phone which will only be available in 3 years but only if you commit to a new 2 yr contract and are willing to convert your cable tv and car insurance to the Verizon bundle. Can you hear me now?
    • I believe 3G refers to the speed and bandwidth of the satellite connection and does not refer in anyway to computer speed itself. In a nutshell it means that faster internet connections will be much more affordable and less of a hassle. Hope it spreads to my part of the U S of A quickly. See you all on Usenet when it does!! Prof
      • 3G stand for 3rd generation of GSM

        GSM is a telephony protocol subset of SS7 which is the old system for
        control the PSTN , public switched telephone network .

        They have to make the new tech work to an extent with the old .

        Interoperability and all .


    • . . . I wouldn't worry too much about it, as long as you've bought an Intel processor, your machine should be powerful enough to surf and browse the internets, even at this 3G level. In fact, with the power of "Intel Inside", the required page should load before you even knew you wanted it.
  • by conan_the_trollarian ( 929617 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2005 @08:47PM (#13984276)
    Can we back up, and make a phone that actually works before we put 100 different things on it?
    • I completely agree, my girlfriend recently got a "Siemens" (appropriately titled) cell phone for free from T-Mobile. The phone has a horrible user interface and is incredibly slow when navigating the menus. This may not be true for other higher end phones but the average person's phone isn't even ready to take advantage of 3G even though most claim support for the system.
    • A phone? That works? Why should I perform expensive, time-consuming testing to accomplish that, when I can instead offer random audiovisual experiences, include appealing technologies and drive competitive pricing while increasing market exposure?

      Every Big Buzzword Master^W^W Cellphone Maker in America

    • My phone works. Just about everybody I know has cell phones, and they all work. Maybe you should just switch phones if yours doesn't work.

      Point being, if you're going to bitch, bitch about *something* not just "____ doesn't work!!"
  • by dada21 ( 163177 ) * <> on Tuesday November 08, 2005 @08:49PM (#13984288) Homepage Journal

    INMARSAT is International Maritime Satellite, a company originally dedicated to ship communications. They're also a pipeline for information hacked by ship pirates to analyze booty to steal.

    INMARSAT has enough satellites to cover the globe, and they've bribed every major government of the world to require large cargo ships to use their system, greatly increasing the cost. They now are manipulating the added profits to extend 3G internationally.

    I'm a fan of 3G, but not by a megacorp that earned its income through coercion. The fact that large shippers are m ndated to use INMARSAT and that pirates are already receiving the information (speed, cargo weight, location) increases our costs of goods and puts more control powers to the company.

    You think Haliburton is bad?
    • Do you have any proof on ANYTHING you just said?
    • Well... inmarsat bgan doesn't have the best reputation from the people I know who've had to deal with their systems.
      whether it was coercion or just heavy lobbyism i'm not sure (hell i'm not sure what the difference is) but the companies that are forced to use them are often as big (or bigger revenue wise) take a company as maersk or bp.
      that being said i'm well aware that the bill will always be send on to the end user.
      but hey, someone's got to pay up for technological progress and prosperity.

      and no, their c
    • How is it mandated that a ship must use Inmarsat/BGAN? Also, how is it that the pirates get your info from it? (No, I'm not a wannabe pirate.) I'm not giving you a hard time; I'm genuinely curious.
      • Inmarsat is mandated has a ship-to-shore communication system for distress signaling purpose. Along with a specially enabled VHF radio and a GPS (I believe a 406EPIRB is also required), it forms part of the GMDSS (Global Marine Distress something something).

        Inmarsat has basically taken the place used by a traditional HF radio. It should be noted that it's not that expensive if it is used solely has part of the GMDSS requirements. The pricing model on Inmarsat is a bit extortionary, but they don't really hav
    • You don't need to hack a satellite feed to get that information. It is available on the web at and several other services. Commercial vessels broadcast this information on a reserved marine VHF channel using HDLC packet protocol. Receivers are cheap, around $250, so all you need is a notebook, a VHF radio, and charting software that can plot AIS data.
    • Yeah, you clearly have no clue what you're talking about. The GMDSS (Global Maritime Distress and Safety System) allows INMARSAT as one of the options of long distance communications. If a company doesn't want to go with INMARSAT they still have the option of radio, which they are required to have if they travel to far north or to far south (70 deg N & 70 S) that they are out of the footprint of the satellites and away from coast stations for any part of their voyage. As for making money off the syst
  • price? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Inmarsat currently does phone service in many VERY remote areas (places such as the middle of the oceans, and Antarctica I believe), and it has a pricetag to match.

    If the pricing for this is anything like their phone won't be a very viable solution.
    • I think the news networks will eat this up like mad. You know those crappy sat phones they have now? What if the next generation of these devices included a high-performance mpeg4 encoder and sent them up at 200kbps? Maybe its not a real sat truck, but if they would be like the suitcase ones. Look at this page [], they even mention INMARSAT's new service.
  • Ping? (Score:3, Funny)

    by TriezGamer ( 861238 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2005 @08:53PM (#13984313)
    What's the purpose of having so much bandwidth without a decent ping time to make it worth gaming on? That's what offices are for, isn't it?
  • by dada21 ( 163177 ) * <> on Tuesday November 08, 2005 @08:57PM (#13984335) Homepage Journal []

    430kbps. Not bad!
  • What will it cost? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    There was a previous attempt to link the world with satellite based 'cell' phones. They launched lots of birds but at the price they were charging for air time, they had no customers. This kind of service may be good for offshore oil rigs and arctic explorers but that kind of customer base is much too small to make it pay. Everyone else is connected much more cheaply than this service can probably compete with. Of course, I didn't see any mention of fees in tfa.
  • Compaired to GPRS (Score:5, Informative)

    by Charliems ( 764942 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2005 @09:15PM (#13984436)

    Download Speeds
    3G: max 384kbps
    GPRS: max 48kbps

    Upload Speeds
    3G: max 64kbps
    GPRS: max 24kbps
  • Why don't we join together to put wifi/wimax towers every few miles in our backyards ?

    We could build a national network .

    Is this possible ?
  • "Their onboard technology is designed to allow people to set up virtual offices anywhere around the world via high-speed broadband connections and new 3G phone technology."

    Can you imagine going war-driving with THAT!?

    On a more serious note, anyone know how the service is going to work? Do the users have to subscribe to the BGan service and always use the satellite or does the satellite kick in when land based connections are weak? The latter case would be very cool. Imagine a phone that can pick and

    • The wi-fi is so that you can share the connection with a couple other laptops / computer equipment sitting next to you in the middle of nowhere (i.e., the equipment has an access point built in), not for alternate network connectivity.
  • by daviddennis ( 10926 ) <> on Tuesday November 08, 2005 @09:29PM (#13984501) Homepage
    In the late 90s, I talked to a very nice fellow who owned a gorgeous 120' yacht and was travelling around the world as he chartered it. Of course cut-price or no, a 120' yacht is not one of the cheapest things in the world to run, even if you get your diesel from Venezuela at $0.10 a gallon!

    We got to talking about boats and Inmarsat and the like, and he was kind enough to tell me his 56k connection cost $12 a minute. The mere act of emailing me must have cost a few bucks an email!

    So it's not at all meaningful to know that INMARSAT service is getting better, without understanding how expensive it is. I think the satellite phone service is a couple of dollars a minute.

    If it's that expensive, I fear it's of limited interest to most Slashdot users :-(.

  • The summary says both sattelite and cell. These are 2 totally different technologies.
  • LLOOLLL (Score:1, Funny)

    by Viriatus ( 886319 )
    LLLOOOLL i'm using a 3G celular phone for a long time ago. ONLY NOW USA?????
  • Inmarsat: Bringing the worms [] home to you. Fast.
  • by RingDev ( 879105 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2005 @10:36PM (#13984846) Homepage Journal
    This is nothing new, 3G (3rd Generation, not 3gig) has been offered in many US metropolitan areas (DC, LA, Chicago, Madison). 3G is still provided by standard cell towers, the problem is how to get that fatty pipe to each tower. There are a few ways. The expencive way is to run fiber from tower to tower. A cheaper route is Microwave (look for a 20' dish with LOS to another tower/20' dish), but it requires line of sight. Satelite allows the cell towers to connect via terestrial means, or in cases of isolated or expencive locations they can toss a small dish on the tower for a fraction of the cost.

    This is not to be confussed with Magellon or other SatPhones that actually did communicate directly to the satelites. Those phones, while wikkid cool, were insanely expensive. And just how many phone calls are you going to make from the top of Everest when your minutes cost you $20 a pop?

    • This is not "bringing" 3G to the US. We've had it for quite some time - CDMA2000 is a 3G technology. You can transfer data at higher than modem speeds via cell phone (1xRTT) just about anywhere in the country, and in most major cities, you can get DSL speeds too (1xEV-DO).
  • I have been using 3G network for almost a year already, and the 3G service has been available since 2003 in Hong Kong. I really don't understand why US is so behind on the broadband/3G service, which I think US should be the leader in these areas. When I live in the state back then, I almost paid $200 bucks for 6M down/256k up pipe with a /29 static IP blocks. Yes, it was expensive, and I guess it is still the same price even now. In Hong Kong, they already offer 1000mb pipe for US $300 a month and 100m
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Below are the international rates ( dollars per minute pricing, so talk quickly)
    I can get through my phone company:

    Inmarsat Atlantic East Aero
    Inmarsat Atlantic East Mini M
    Inmarsat Atlantic East A Voice/Data
    Inmarsat Atlantic East BHSD
    Inmarsat Atlantic East B Voice/Data
    Inmarsat Atlantic East M
    Inmarsat Atlantic West A Voice/Data
    Inmarsat Atlantic West Aero
    Inmarsat Atlantic West BHSD
    Inmarsat Atlantic West BVoice/Data
    Inmarsat Atlantic West M
    Inmarsat Atlantic
  • 3G is not broadband!
  • actually ahead of the US - Amazing!

    PS - For the people who don't know what i am talking about, South Africa has a history of taking a very long time to deploy advances in telecoms - mostly due to our EVIL incumbent Telco, Telkom [] making sure they are able to rape the South African Internet population for all they are worth. Which means that typically our Internet connectivity options plainly suck []. For some more information on how bad they suck, you can visit Hellkom [] or MyADSL [].

    However, we have a

  • Will this work with current 3G phones which only need to be able to send a signal 10-20 miles to the nearest cell tower - rather than 22,000 odd miles to this satellite ? Or will you in fact need a nice bulky satellite phone to use this.
  • These comparisons to cellular data networks are a bit off the mark. Inmarsat's BGAN (Broadband Global Area Network) of which the I4 satellites are the space segment, only supports fixed applications. You need a directional antenna that is pointed at, and has clear line of site to, the satellite.

    The closest satellite equivalents to cell networks for voice are the Irridium and Thoria services. Irridium is heavily used for mobile data applications, but doesn't offer GPRS-like speeds or IP connectivity.
  • I don't have much experience with satellite-based networks but I've heard the latency makes them less-than-optimal. It doesn't matter how much pipe you have if it takes an eternity to get packets to and fro, especially if there's any packet loss (which assumedly there would be). Any interactive appliaction or protocol that used multiple simultaneous connections (like HTTP) would feel really slow.

    If this network is no better than bonding 28.8 modems together, what's the point?

  • I used to work on that launch project, Sea Launch. It was alot of hard work, but it was also alot of fun. [] Novel to follow: For three to four weeks at a time we would put to sea, with the rocket resting peacefully in the hangar. During the one and a half week trip to the equator from Long Beach the crew would spend the time performing launch rehearsals and verifying their system readiness to support the launch. Needless to say there was plenty of time for recreation. Basketball,
  • 3G has been here in the UK for several years, I have a 3G data card in my laptop and I've got to say I'm impressed. For the most part it picks up a good 3G connection at 384kbs/s, fast enough to browse. It will use 8011.2g if availible otherwise 3G or failsover to GPRS.

    My package alows me something like 75MB a day for free and then you have to pay for extra bandwidth but as something to use on train/road for picking up emails, doing basic browsing it's perfect.
    Obviously this get's owned but the 24Mb/s ADSL2

All science is either physics or stamp collecting. -- Ernest Rutherford