Inmarsat PLC switched on the first phase of its long-awaited $1.5 billion satellite network [last] Wednesday, giving users across Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia access to simultaneous voice and broadband Internet service.
London-based Inmarsat, which operates a constellation of satellites that enable voice and data services, said its Broadband Global Area Network, or BGAN, will allow data transfer speeds of up to 492 kilobits per second.
Inmarsat said that the satellites double the data speeds that were available prior to the launch and also offer 25% faster speeds than currently available with 3G, or third-generation, mobile operators.
The service can be accessed through a range of lightweight satellite terminals, the smallest of which is about half the size of a laptop computer. The cost of the terminal ranges from $1,500 to $3,500.