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Inmarsat Brings 3G Broadband to North America

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the still-trying-to-catch-up dept.

Communications 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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Yay! (5, Insightful)

Daedius (740129) | more than 8 years ago | (#13984223)

Now were only 2 years behind Korea, Japan, and the rest of the 3G world!

Re:Yay! (-1, Offtopic)

Daedius (740129) | more than 8 years ago | (#13984233)

Can't believe I got first post! ;P

Re:Yay! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13984307)

I can't believe you care!

Re:Yay! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13984537)

Now all they have to fix is the high latency with satellites... Hrm... better change the speed of electrons...

Re:Yay! (1)

scbysnx (837275) | more than 8 years ago | (#13986036)

or just go fly a stratellite http://www.stratellite.net/ [stratellite.net]

SHUT THE FUCK UP YOU DUMB FUCKING NIGGER! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13984725)

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Re:Yay! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13984747)

That's the most retarded comment to ever get modded up, sheesh.

Re:Yay! (1)

TheGSRGuy (901647) | more than 8 years ago | (#13984816)

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.

Re:Yay! (1)

coleblak (863392) | more than 8 years ago | (#13984939)

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.

Re:Yay! (1)

koreaman (835838) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985023)

Do you mind explaining why it's stupid?

Why should you release something in country X first just because you're located there. I would think they'd make decisions based on what would get them the most money, not based on something arbitrary like "where we're located."

Re:Yay! (1)

grasshoppa (657393) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985352)

It's a matter of logistics.

I build systems and networks for a living ( asterisk since you asked ). In theory, it shouldn't matter if my client is in New York or next door. However, in practice it's easier to work with customers that are closer than it is for a customer on the other side of the country. It's the details: Things like knowing the local ISPs and equipment suppliers, to who's a good tech in the area if I need a set of hands on site.

Foriegn companies may have the same issues.

"Opening weekend" factor and testing (1)

GunFodder (208805) | more than 8 years ago | (#13986490)

Typically the opening weekend of a movie dictates the maximum amount of money it will make. Consoles stay on the market for considerably longer than movies, but sales at introduction are still important. Sony helped guarantee success by selling in Japan first, where they were virtually guaranteed to succeed. By the time they initiated sales in the US they had a lot of positive buzz.

There is something to be said about introducing your product in a smaller market as well. If you have any problems with the product you have time to fix them before starting sales in larger markets. We often rolled out our software enhancement to smaller user communities overseas before the US so that we could verify everything worked.

Re:Yay! (1)

tob (7310) | more than 8 years ago | (#13986621)

Tivo is Philips is dutch. I still have not seen Tivo systems for sale in the Netherlands. Your theory does not hold.

Tob

Re:Yay! (3, Funny)

Simon Garlick (104721) | more than 8 years ago | (#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! (1)

RzUpAnmsCwrds (262647) | more than 8 years ago | (#13986557)

"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? (5, Funny)

Dekortage (697532) | more than 8 years ago | (#13984226)

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.

Two = consellation scenario (1)

mister_llah (891540) | more than 8 years ago | (#13984623)

In the scenario where the constellation was a straight line... I'd allow it.

Of course, I am not the authority on such things.

Re:Two? (1)

cytoman (792326) | more than 8 years ago | (#13984687)

"Canis Minor is a simple two-star constellation consisting of Procyon and Gomeisa, a much dimmer star located slightly to the north of Procyon."

From http://moreheadplanetarium.org/files/march04_membe r.html [moreheadplanetarium.org]

3G is Okay (1)

lotus_out_law (878076) | more than 8 years ago | (#13984228)

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.

Re:3G is Okay (1)

Achromatic1978 (916097) | more than 8 years ago | (#13984661)

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.

Only America? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13984246)

Why only North America, doesn't it orbit around the whole world?

Re:Only America? (5, Informative)

AndyFewt (694753) | more than 8 years ago | (#13984282)

Well it is most likely (The article didnt confirm this) be in a geosynchronous orbit. That means the satellite stays in a fixed position in the sky relative to the ground. The position of the satellite in space (at an altitude of 22,237 miles) is where the speed of the satellite matches the speed of Earth's rotation. It is unlikely it performs a faster orbit around the planet as then it would also provide services to the other side of the world.

Re:Only America? (1)

fred fleenblat (463628) | more than 8 years ago | (#13984435)

The unmentioned downside is that ping times via geosynhcronous orbiting sats are awful.

* Gaming is impossible
* web surfing is click...wait...wait...wait...display. and wait twice as long if javascript tries to load more images.
* FTP and email work fine, as do most file sharing networks.
* VOIP has intolerable delays, plus the delays are so long some echo cancellation algorithms give up

Re:Only America? (1)

PleaseDontBeTaken (604130) | more than 8 years ago | (#13984669)

Somehow they are doing VOIP at low quality, using 4Kbps. Why is VOIP [ TCP/IP] -> geosync -> land any noticeably longer lag that sat phone [circuit switch ] -> geosync -> land?

Re:Only America? (1)

fred fleenblat (463628) | more than 8 years ago | (#13984728)

globalstar and iridium sat phones use(d) LEO sats and had much lower delays.

old-school sat phones (with the briefcase sized antennas) have the delay, but when you're "embedded" in afghanistan you put up with it.

Re:Only America? (1)

arazor (55656) | more than 8 years ago | (#13984727)

I have seen the comment that gaming is impossible everytime a cell or satellite internet is mentioned. What I am wondering would it be possible to set up a server for high lag users so they could play among equals?

Re:Only America? (1)

geraint-nz (214071) | more than 8 years ago | (#13984684)

yes it is in geosynchronous orbit, it says so on the inmarsat site. i wonder how the latency will affect the link?

SHUT THE FUCK UP YOU DUMB FUCKING NIGGER! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13984761)

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Re:Only America? (1)

saj_s (667330) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985707)

> Well it is most likely (The article didnt confirm this) be
> in a geosynchronous orbit. .... It is unlikely it performs a
> faster orbit around the planet as then it would also provide
> services to the other side of the world.

Actually, this is one of a series of satellites that will eventually provide global coverage. This specific satellite is for the Americas only.

We all know the truth (5, Funny)

AndyFewt (694753) | more than 8 years ago | (#13984254)

"Virtual offices".. yeh ok, we all know it will be used for porn, porn and more porn. 3G porn on the go!

Re:We all know the truth (1)

spxero (782496) | more than 8 years ago | (#13984300)


And of course the porn industry is going to decide the best phone to view it on...

Hooray for unlimited data plans!

Re:We all know the truth (2, Funny)

vagabond_gr (762469) | more than 8 years ago | (#13984412)

You could work in a nice virtual environment together with Jenna Jameson, Jesse Jane and Briana Banks.

It's so fast... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13984257)

You'll sware it was broadband! Load of non-sense, doesn't this just cache web-pages? I'd be happier with real broadband, expecially because it's way more affordable (price/performance) than dialup. Of course, my opinions would be different if I was using the interent for different reasons (there's definately a niche demographic for this kind of technology somewhere).

Threegeeper (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 8 years ago | (#13984260)

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 (2, Informative)

ptbarnett (159784) | more than 8 years ago | (#13984343)

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: http://countdown.inmarsat.com/bgan/default.aspx?to p_level_id=31&language=EN&textonly=False [inmarsat.com] .

It's up to 492Kbps, send and receive, for variable bit rate. For guaranteed bit rate, it's up to 256Kbps. I don't know if that means X Kbps each direction, or combined. Maybe someone else can fill in the gaps.

Re:Threegeeper (1)

Hey Pope Felcher . . (921019) | more than 8 years ago | (#13984358)

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

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 least we know that these satellites are

60 times more powerful and have 20 times more capacity than their predecessors, the Inmarsat-3 satellites.

I can rest easy now.

Affordable to upgrade? (4, Funny)

Sheetrock (152993) | more than 8 years ago | (#13984262)

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?

Re:Affordable to upgrade? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13984386)

Dude, you have misunderstood the subject completely.

3G stands for third generation and has nothing to do with the clockspeed of processors, but rather signal encoding over the air for mobile devices.

Re:Affordable to upgrade? (4, Informative)

Bananatree3 (872975) | more than 8 years ago | (#13984391)

3G actually stands for "3rd-generation", and is describing a generation of mobile telephone technology. Check out the Wikipedia article for more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3G [wikipedia.org]

Re:Affordable to upgrade? (1)

krbvroc1 (725200) | more than 8 years ago | (#13984802)

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?

Re:Affordable to upgrade? (1)

Professional Heckler (928160) | more than 8 years ago | (#13984397)

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

Re:Affordable to upgrade? (1)

Hey Pope Felcher . . (921019) | more than 8 years ago | (#13984443)

. . . 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.

Shame... (0, Flamebait)

s-twig (775100) | more than 8 years ago | (#13984269)

Being from Australia, I remember when I used to envy the US and it's broadband ways. We've had 3G for the last 2 years.

It's a pity to see a country that initially led the broadband charge fall back as far as it has.

Re:Shame... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13984323)

What makes it really funny is listening to all the xenophobes talk about how the UN wants to take over the "our internets". According to the Standard Slashdot Amerocentric Distortion and Whine Field (tm), the "internets" was invented by the USA so noone outside the USA should have any say in how it is run.

More crap on my phone? (3, Insightful)

conan_the_trollarian (929617) | more than 8 years ago | (#13984276)

Can we back up, and make a phone that actually works before we put 100 different things on it?

Re:More crap on my phone? (1)

garrett714 (841216) | more than 8 years ago | (#13984591)

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.

Re:More crap on my phone? (1)

game kid (805301) | more than 8 years ago | (#13984636)

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?

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

Re:More crap on my phone? (1)

gambit3 (463693) | more than 8 years ago | (#13984701)

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!!"

Is today pirate day?? (4, Interesting)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#13984288)



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?

Re:Is today pirate day?? (3, Insightful)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 8 years ago | (#13984332)

Do you have any proof on ANYTHING you just said?

Re:Is today pirate day?? (1)

conan_the_trollarian (929617) | more than 8 years ago | (#13984356)

Proof? In this day and age? I'll bet you eat up every piece of drivel cnn and the other media sources spew out and don't ask for any proof from them...

Re:Is today pirate day?? (4, Interesting)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#13984402)

I'm a PDA phone user, so links are hard, but here goes:

Anti-competitive [com.com]

Orbit Act [doc.gov] I think

Pirates + Govt Mandates [strategypage.com]

I have 9 years of history with Inmarsat and Iridium.

Re:Is today pirate day?? (1)

rindeee (530084) | more than 8 years ago | (#13984850)

Interestingly, INMARSAT is also the choice of many a smaller countries military for classified global communications (makes our (the US Military's Intel community) job easier). There are already other reasonable options out there. Pick up a copy of "SIGNAL" or "C4ISR" and you'll find no shortage of ads for VSAT and other technologies that provide truely global IP services on a reasonable cost basis (many are available to the general public though not marketed as such).

Re:Is today pirate day?? (1)

Xiph (723935) | more than 8 years ago | (#13984410)

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 customer support service does not work in firefox (which was my friends biggest grief).
ps. sorry for biting the trolls tail

What do you mean "mandated to use"? (1)

PleaseDontBeTaken (604130) | more than 8 years ago | (#13984622)

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.

Re:What do you mean "mandated to use"? (2, Informative)

AlexCV (261412) | more than 8 years ago | (#13984679)

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 have much competition.

Re:Is today pirate day?? (1)

kindbud (90044) | more than 8 years ago | (#13984682)

You don't need to hack a satellite feed to get that information. It is available on the web at AISlive.com 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.

price? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13984308)

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 service...it won't be a very viable solution.

Re:price? (1)

NETHED (258016) | more than 8 years ago | (#13984461)

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 [telecomweb.com] , they even mention INMARSAT's new service.

Ping? (3, Funny)

TriezGamer (861238) | more than 8 years ago | (#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?

Re:Ping? (1)

game kid (805301) | more than 8 years ago | (#13984588)

That's what offices are for, isn't it?

Assuming nonreal complex values of office, anyway...

Obligatory karma whore wiki (2, Informative)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#13984335)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inmarsat [wikipedia.org]

430kbps. Not bad!

*Sigh* (1)

Neoncow (802085) | more than 8 years ago | (#13986241)

Obligatory meta-funny whore post.
I hope you're happy now.

What will it cost? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13984336)

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.

Re:What will it cost? (4, Interesting)

Old Wolf (56093) | more than 8 years ago | (#13984528)

I've had 3G in my pocket for more than a year now. When I first got it, I browsed the front page of slashdot. When my bill came in, I saw that it had cost me $11.

I hope you get it a bit cheaper over there..

Well... (1)

tkrotchko (124118) | more than 8 years ago | (#13986496)

If you subscribe to Verizon's 3G service (which uses CDMA, I believe http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3G#CDMA_2000 [wikipedia.org] ), you pay a flat $60 fee for unlimited usage.

Re:What will it cost? (1)

bob h (129786) | more than 8 years ago | (#13984865)

Here's some prices:
MPDS - Mobile Packet Data Service: $4.00 per Mbit ('Always on')
http://store.yahoo.com/satphonestore/kvhtracf77in. html>

Compaired to GPRS (5, Informative)

Charliems (764942) | more than 8 years ago | (#13984436)


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

Upload Speeds
3G: max 64kbps
GPRS: max 24kbps

Re:Compaired to GPRS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13984595)

We need a price and geographic availability comparison. Anyone have the goods? (Even a qualitative comparison would be nice.)

Re:Compaired to GPRS (1)

Nimloth (704789) | more than 8 years ago | (#13984955)

What's the big fuss all about?

With 1X Ev-DO up here we can now get 700 kbps down and 85 kbps up. Revision A should be here next year to make upload 10 times faster...

Re:Compaired to GPRS (1)

markd89 (622841) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985325)

Don't forget about the latency. Ping times of 800ms I would guess.

Re:Compaired to GPRS (1)

RzUpAnmsCwrds (262647) | more than 8 years ago | (#13986577)

Why the hell does no one get this:

This is a satellite communication system. Not 3G cellular.

Immarsat has latency that is considerably worse than even GPRS, and it's surprisingly expensive.

Comparing it to GPRS is stupid.

Why don't citizens join together (0)

zymano (581466) | more than 8 years ago | (#13984458)

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 ?

Re:Why don't citizens join together (1)

Deekin_Scalesinger (755062) | more than 8 years ago | (#13984545)

We could join together to end war and poverty, as long as we're all meeting anyway about the WiFi towers. Heck if someone types up an agenda, we could blow through these three issues by lunchtime...

Re:Why don't citizens join together (1)

drwho (4190) | more than 8 years ago | (#13984626)

We could join together to end war and poverty,


No, you can't. War is natural, just like evolution. Or do you believe in 'Intelligent Design'? And overty is just the name for the people on the low end of the totem pole. For instance, some people are now claiming that lack of broadband Internet makes them 'victims of poverty' - give me a break.

Re:Why don't citizens join together (1)

Deekin_Scalesinger (755062) | more than 8 years ago | (#13984655)

Rats, and I was going to ask you to make up the agenda too...

Re:Why don't citizens join together (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13985541)

And overty is just the name for the people on the low end of the totem pole.

And here I thought that "overty" is the name for eople so oor that they can't even afford a ot to iss in.

Mad Cool! (1)

Comatose51 (687974) | more than 8 years ago | (#13984485)

"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 choose connection methods such as WiFi, 3G, and satellite as the situation dictates and an ISP that will provide it to you.

Re:Mad Cool! (1)

PleaseDontBeTaken (604130) | more than 8 years ago | (#13984643)

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.

Don't get too excited until you know the price tag (3, Informative)

daviddennis (10926) | more than 8 years ago | (#13984501)

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 :-(.

D

Re:Don't get too excited until you know the price (2, Interesting)

planckscale (579258) | more than 8 years ago | (#13984634)

I recently made reservations with the Marina in Cabo for my parents who were on a 42' sailboat with the service http://skymate.com/ [skymate.com] . Their service description says it is the global, low cost alternative to expensive 'by the minute' satellite services or low coverage, unpredictable cellular providers. It worked very well and the folks were able to send me GPS coordinates (26.26 n, 113.57 w), as well as updates and the request to contact the marina. Email I believe is limited to 1000 characters. Still, I was impressed.

Re:Don't get too excited until you know the price (1)

daviddennis (10926) | more than 8 years ago | (#13984778)

You can actually get a broadband RV service for (if my memory serves) about $6500 for the service plus $150 a month but it appears not to work for boats, which is a real pity. That kind of company might be worth looking for next time you or your parents go on a cruise.

Skymate's still a bit expensive, with a total monthly allocation of 50,000 characters even for the most expensive ($69.95 monthly) plan.

And you can't surf the web or do anything interactive.

Still, it's a sign that the cost of this kind of service is going down.

Eventually.

D

Re:Don't get too excited until you know the price (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985716)

How can it be that expensive? Even Iridium is "only" $30/mo + $1.50 [infosat.com] per minute, through a handset. And you can even get data services at a whopping 2.4 Kbps [infosat.com] . Ok, that's laughably bad, but you could transfer 50KBytes in under 3 minutes for about $4.50 in airtime.

Re:Don't get too excited until you know the price (1)

daviddennis (10926) | more than 8 years ago | (#13986032)

I seem to remember my friend's Iridium equipment for his yacht was something like $25,000-$50,000. The Skymate service uses a $1,000-odd receiver/dish. That difference in equipment cost pretty much insulates Skymate from price comparisons with Iridum.

Actually, it sounds like SailMail [sailmail.com] offers very similar services for a much cheaper fee, apparently $250 a year. (That's up from $100 when I'd first heard of them - yikes). Sailmail uses SSB radio which I think is less spiffy than satellite, but I understand it does the job, and there's a 10k limit on messages instead of the rather pathetic 1k limit from Skymate. Worth a look.

D

Re:Don't get too excited until you know the price (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 8 years ago | (#13986152)

Yowsers! Nowadays the Iridium phone [infosat.com] is down to $1500 and the data kit is $189.

Re:Don't get too excited until you know the price (1)

daviddennis (10926) | more than 8 years ago | (#13986265)

Me bad. Sorry. I meant Inmarsat.

I think Inmarsat is quite a bit more reliable on the high seas. Because of wave action the antenna has to be stabilized which makes equipment a lot more expensive.

D

Re:Don't get too excited until you know the price (1)

PleaseDontBeTaken (604130) | more than 8 years ago | (#13984654)

According to some promo info, with the new service you only pay for the bits you actually send/receive, not for just having the thing on, so you aren't tying up bandwidth for dead air.

Re:Don't get too excited until you know the price (1)

daviddennis (10926) | more than 8 years ago | (#13984754)

I think that was true of this service as well, but nonetheless with the time required to set up and tear down the connection and likely minimums it probably cost almost a minute's worth of call time to send an email.

I'd love to know how much this new service is; anyone know?

D

Is it sattelite or cell based (1)

DJStealth (103231) | more than 8 years ago | (#13984558)

The summary says both sattelite and cell. These are 2 totally different technologies.

Monthly fee to use your computer ;-) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13984581)

Check out "Office Live" that Microsoft is pushing now...

Very basically, you will not be able to buy any software in the future. You will have to dial out and use all your apps online for a monthly subsribtion fee, like your cell phone! Ever heard of VNC?

Think of your future Microsoft computer as some kinda sick uber-terminal that needs to be hooked up to the mainframe at Redmond to run anything (don't need cables, maybe will use 3G or sattelite internet, or whatever). Upside is that you can carry with you all your settings, apps, docs no matter what device you use. And you can figure the downsides for yourself ;-)

Hacking that? Well, that would be like hacking cell-phones, or steal other people's credit money... Make no mistake about it: any computer hacking in the future would ab initio involve activities that are highly criminal and illegal. Couple that with mandatory biometrics, and the 'hackers' just can't hide! But hey, at least script-kiddies will be nubbed in the bud!

Off-topic, here I come

Re:Monthly fee to use your computer ;-) (1)

waferhead (557795) | more than 8 years ago | (#13984795)

I haven't bought any software since ~1994, when I first dual booted my Amiga into Linux.

Oh, wait, I DID buy 2 copies of Quake3A for Linux, so that's not completely true.

LLOOLLL (2, Funny)

Viriatus (886319) | more than 8 years ago | (#13984586)

LLLOOOLL i'm using a 3G celular phone for a long time ago. ONLY NOW USA?????

Re:LLOOLLL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13985946)

Too bad you have nobody to call.

They are going to need a good slogan (1)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | more than 8 years ago | (#13984660)

Inmarsat: Bringing the worms [slashdot.org] home to you. Fast.

LOL (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13984705)

This guy (tinyurl.com/bqm2c) has been using 3g for ages...

Your phone does not communicat to the satelite. (2, Interesting)

RingDev (879105) | more than 8 years ago | (#13984846)

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?

-Rick

MOD PARENT UP (1)

Mr2001 (90979) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985929)

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).

3G now? (1)

sdugoten2 (449392) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985656)

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 100mb pipe for US $35 a month.

No, it's not that population/density issue, it's because of the regulation give absolutely no incentive for PacHell/SBC to upgrade.

On a side note, I see people posting that 3G is overkilled. I am not sure about you, but I have been watching news LIVE on my phone when I am on my way to work on bus.

Inmarsat is affordable? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13986249)

Below are the international rates ( dollars per minute pricing, so talk quickly)
I can get through my phone company:

Inmarsat Atlantic East Aero
15.84
Inmarsat Atlantic East Mini M
12.47
Inmarsat Atlantic East A Voice/Data
12.47
Inmarsat Atlantic East BHSD
12.47
Inmarsat Atlantic East B Voice/Data
12.47
Inmarsat Atlantic East M
15.84
Inmarsat Atlantic West A Voice/Data
12.47
Inmarsat Atlantic West Aero
15.84
Inmarsat Atlantic West BHSD
17.94
Inmarsat Atlantic West BVoice/Data
12.47
Inmarsat Atlantic West M
15.84
Inmarsat Atlantic West Mini M
12.47
Inmarsat Indian Ocean A Voice/Data
12.47
Inmarsat Indian Ocean Aero
15.84
Inmarsat Indian Ocean BHSD
17.94
Inmarsat Indian Ocean B Voice/Data
12.47
Inmarsat Indian Ocean M
15.84
Inmarsat Indian Ocean Mini M
12.47
Inmarsat Pacific Ocean A Voice/Data
11.31
Inmarsat Pacific Ocean Aero
12.47
Inmarsat Pacific Ocean BHSD
12.47
Inmarsat Pacific Ocean B Voice/Data
9.30
Inmarsat Pacific Ocean M
12.47
Inmarsat Pacific Ocean Mini M
9.30
Inmarsat Unified B
17.28
Inmarsat Unified M
15.84
Inmarsat Unified Mini M
12.47
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