BGAN (Broadband Global Area Network) is a mobile communications system created to transmit broadband wireless voice and data communications almost anywhere on the earth's surface. The system, developed by Immarsat, Inc., consists of a constellation of geostationary satellites working in conjunction with portable, lightweight, surface-based terminals about the size of a laptop.
BGAN was developed to provide cost-effective connectivity in remote locations where cellular and wireless data networks do not currently exist . The system works anywhere on the planet, in fact, but the regions immediately surrounding the north and south geographic poles. Regional BGAN (R-BGAN) is currently deployed across Europe; the global BGAN system is expected to be fully operational by the middle of 2006.
BGAN terminals are capable of supporting multiple users, and will support data, voice, Bluetooth, Ethernet, and Wi-Fi. The electrical power may come from utility lines, batteries, or generators. Connection speeds will be up to approximately 500 kbps, depending on the type of terminal. In contrast to most geostationary satellite communications systems, BGAN will employ terminals with omnidirectional antennas. They will be easier to set up, will require less complex maintenance, and will function in aeronautical and marine environments as well as from fixed dry-land surface points.