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Compare Iridium, Inmarsat and FBB Satellite Email and Web Speeds

Compare Iridium, Inmarsat and FBB Satellite Email and Web Speeds

Want to compare satellite email and web browsing speeds for Iridium, IsatPhone and other satellite phone equipment?

That is a complex topic, influenced by many factors, but we are here to help. Through clear comparisons, important recommendations and a video demonstration, it will be much easier for you to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of satellite systems.

So, first, let’s understand the basics. Imagine that each piece of data (such as email or a GRIB file) that we want to transfer is like a car traveling on an interstate highway. How fast the car travels is dependent on the engine horsepower, the speed limit imposed on the highway, how many other cars are traveling that same highway and their speed, and whether there are other interferences, such as rain, a disabled car blocking traffic, etc.

The interestate highway represents the narrowband or broadband connection, the speed limit is the data transfer rate, interferences can be signal strength, signal quality, or competition for the connection.

Compare ‘speeds’ of data transfer for the different ‘engines’ if there is no other competition or interference during the trip.

Equipment [Engine]Data Transfer Rate [Highway Speed]
IsatPhone Pro Handheld12 kbytes per minute
Iridium Handheld15 kbytes per minute
Globalstar Handheld50 kbytes per minute
Iridium OpenPortRange of 60 – 800 kbytes per minute
KVH VSATRange of 800 to 8,000 kbytes per minute
Fleet BroadbandRange of 800 to 2,500 kbytes per minute
Fleet Broadband 5002,500 kbytes per minute
BGANRange of 800 to 3,200 kbytes per minute
Home Broadband Land Line @512 kbps3,200 kbytes per minute
Home Broadband Land Line @1.5 Mbps9,600 kbytes per minute

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can see from this chart there is a HUGE difference in speed between different satellite equipment systems (engines.) You can also see how satellite connection speeds compare to a typical broadband land line that most of us have in our homes. While satellite systems speeds vary, they are all slow to very slow when compared to land line connections.

Now for some good news: GMN specializes in maximizing the horsepower of your engine for both satellite email and web browsing. 

XGate iPhone ScreenshotLet’s look at EMAIL first:

XGate satellite email is designed to eliminate extraneous email chatting that occurs between servers during a typical email transfer session. XGate packs all the email into one compressed stream of data, such that, on average, XGate is 10-15 times faster than other email programs (even faster on some systems). This means you realize significant savings in airtime costs.

Here’s how:

An average email is usually 2-5 kb in size. Let’s say that you are sending an update to family and close friends so you are sending 10 emails, each 5 kb for a total size of 50 kb; OR, you want to download a 3-day Wind Forecast GRIB file, which happens to be about 50 kb in size.

Compare airtime required to send those emails or to receive that GRIB file. Remember, with XGate, that entire batch of emails or that GRIB file will be packed to about 5kb in size, or less:

Equipment Airtime Minutes without XGate (50 kb)*Airtime Minutes with XGate(50 kb compressed to 5kb)*
IsatPhone Pro Handheld4.1667 minutes.4167 minutes
Iridium Handheld3.3333 minutes.3333 minutes
Globalstar1.0000 minutes.1000 minutes
Iridium OpenPort*Range .8333 to .0625 minutesRange .0833 to .0063 minutes
Fleet Broadband*Range .0625 to .0200 minutesRange .0063 to .0020 minutes
Fleet Broadband 500*.0200 minutes.0020 minutes
BGAN*Range .0625 to .0156 minutesRange .0063 to .0016 minutes
KVH VSAT*Range .0625 to .0063 minutesRange .0063 to .0006 minutes

*These airtime plans charge by the amount of data transferred, not by the airtime minute. All airtime use calculations are approximate and do not include any minimum billing increments required by providers.

Whether calculated by the minute or by the amount of data, XGate Satellite Email provides significant savings.

XWeb Compression Web BrowsingNow let’s look at XWeb, an optional add-on service to XGate.

With XWeb you may save as much as $80 on every $100 of satellite airtime when web browsing; BUT, you must consider your equipment and needs carefully before signing up. Web browsing over narrowband connections (handheld satellite phones) can become very costly, very quickly. We recommend you always use mobile sites when browsing, whenever possible.

Compare the average satellite airtime use to download mobile Sports Illustrated (m.si.com) WITHOUT and then WITH using XWeb.

EquipmentWithout XWeb (2.3MB)With XWeb (313.5kb)
 IsatPhone Pro 196.2667 minutes (3.2711 hours) 26.125 minutes
 Iridium 157.0133 minutes (2.6169 hours) 20.9 minutes
 Globalstar 47.1040 minutes 6.27 minutes
 Iridium OpenPort* 39.2533 to 2.9440 minutes 5.225 to .3919 minutes
 Fleet Broadband* 2.9440 to .9421 minutes .3919 to .1254 minutes
 Fleet Broadband 500* .9421 minutes .1254 minutes
 BGAN* 2.9440 to .7360 minutes .3919 to .0980 minutes
 KVH VSAT* 2.9440 to .2944 minutes .3919 to .0392 minutes

You can see that using XWeb yields a great savings on airtime dollars. Please note that web browsing savings varies depending on type of satellite phone equipment.

For a demonstration of XWeb compression, watch a 3-minute video:






Important Recommendations:

Cobham Sailor FleetBroadbandXWeb is highly recommended for Iridium OpenPort, Fleet Broadband, BGAN, Vsat, Globalstar and cell phones. The information above shows that you will be able to browse the web with XGate/XWeb because the basic equipment transfer speeds are high enough that with compression, web browsing is feasible.

You can also web browse with Iridium handheld phones and the Inmarsat IsatPhone Pro, but the transfer rates will be very slow even though they are accelerated 5X or more by XWeb. This is due to the inherent slow protocol of handheld satellite phones. Thus, you may web browse, but it will be slow and probably expensive, even with XWeb compression savings.

We really must “toot our own horn” here.

Bottom Line:

  • XGate satellite email is a wonderful addition to any satellite phone and will allow you to do email in a fast, efficient way.
  • XWeb web browsing with compression is a nice addition for mobile broadband and can be used for minimal browsing on the handsets. As you can see above, web browsing on narrowband devices is fairly slow and expensive; but, it is much better than not using it at all if you have to browse!

Unsure which system will work best for you? Contact us for a no-obligation consultation. We can help you decide which system best meets your needs.











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