Satellite Airtime Pricing Models

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There are several satellite airtime suppliers in the market, both geostationary and low earth orbit technology. The price of satellite service airtime is coming down, almost to the point where it now competes with 3G terrestrial cell phone/ mobile phone systems. The data models chosen to Illustrate the typical airtime costs for three types of Hydrographic application, namely:

  • an alert application, e.g. a tipping bucket rain gauge only, which only transmits single bucket tip data needing a very small amount of data, is well served by services such as the Inmarsat ISAT data pro service, the Iridium short burst data service and the Orbcom service
  • a river measurement station or an industrial measurement application with several different instruments measuring routinely, perhaps every 15 minutes needing a larger amount of data is well served by services such as Inmarsat M2M and Globalstar
  • a river measurement station or an industrial measurement application with several different instruments measuring routinely, perhaps every 15 minutes, as well as some site photographs sent routinely are well served by services such as Inmarsat M2M and Globalstar, but these may also be candidates for the higher end standard Inmarsat BGAN service.

For those three typical applications this document compares the satellite airtime pricing models with the use of the NRT camera
model from the satellite providers.

The document is intended as a guide only, it is illustrative only, based on published pricing models ($US) and should not be
used to calculate exact costs, as there may be specially priced services for some customers.
The suppliers modeled are:

  • Globalstar
  • Inmarsat BGAN
  • Inmarsat BGAN M2M
  • Inmarsat IsatData Pro
  • Iridium
  • Orbcomm

The data models also assume power is removed from the Inmarsat BGAN M2M and the Inmarsat BGAN for the purpose of modeling, requiring these systems to reestablish a session, with the corresponding session re establishment overhead each time they communicate. If these systems have power systems dimensioned such that power can remain on, then the session re establishment overheads will be eliminated. In broad terms, short burst data services cost in the order of 50 to 100 cents per kilobyte and Inmarsat BGAN services cost in the order of 1 to 3 cents per kilobyte.

Indicative Monthly Data Volume Scenarios

For the purposes of generating indicative payload sizes and data volumes, the following scenarios are used. These values account for logger RTD and but not other comms overheads.

1. Very Low Data Volume – Once a Day
  3 data channels once per day = 222 bytes per day or 7KB per month

2. Low Data Volume – Once an Hour
  3 data channels every hour = 222 bytes per hour or 164KB per month

3. High Data Volume – Once every 5 Minutes
  6 data channels every 5 minutes = 2736 bytes per hour or 2MB per month

4. Medium Resolution Serial Camera pictures
  Once an Hour = 25k per hour or 20MB per month

5. High Resolution IP Camera pictures
  Once an Hour = 110k per hour or 88MB per month

Communications Overhead Assumptions

The Neon Remote Terminal and Neon Server Protocol incur packet overheads of 76 bytes per packet. For Log Data packets, overheads can be proportionately large. E.g. 76 bytes of Header and 6 bytes of Log Data payload equals 82 bytes total. Each time a neon remote Terminal communicates with the server it also sends 64 bytes of RTD with a 76 byte header for a total of 140 bytes. So, if 3 data channels are being logged, it is not just 6 bytes of data that is sent but rather two packets of total size (82+140)=222 bytes.

Serial Camera payloads incur overheads of roughly 9.6%

IP Camera overheads incur slightly smaller overheads of roughly 3.7%

An 894 byte packet can contain a maximum 818 bytes of payload.

There will be additional data overheads for establishing the PPP comms session plus acknowledgements etc between the server and the logger.

Camera Payload Sizes- Still Video Images

The Neon Camera System can be configured to take several different sized resolution pictures. For the purpose of this document we are using only two generalized resolutions.
Medium resolution Serial Camera pictures (640×480) are 25K each.
High resolution IP Camera pictures (1280×800) are 110k each.

Camera Payload Size- Video

Medium resolution IP Camera video (800x600x2fps) is 1MB per minute

Globalstar Model

Data charged in time increments, not bytes. Data charged in 10 second blocks

Globalstar Plan = Data30Very Low Data VoulmeLow Data VoulmeHigh Data VoulmeMedium Res PhotoHigh Res Photo
Monthly Base Price$30.00$30.00$30.00$30.00$30.00
Comms Frequency1 daily1 hour5 minutes1 hour1 hour
Bytes per Comms22422423025,000110,000
Bytes per second818818818818818
Packets per Comms inc. 2 OH22233136
10 Seconds per Comms111414
Comms per Month317328784732732
First 10 Second Packets per Month317328784732732
Next 10 Second Packets per Month00021969516
Cents per First 10 Second Packets44444
Cents per Next 10 Second Packets16.6716.6716.6716.6716.67
Monthly Packet Price$1.24$29.28$351.36$395.35$1615.60
Minus Monthly Included Calls-$10.00-$10.00-$10.00
-$10.00-$10.00
Monthly Total Price$30$30$371.36$415.35$1,635.60

Inmarsat BGAN M2M Service Model Modem Cycled Every Session – plan based

Hughes 9502 satellite
Data charged in bytes, not by time
Comms session = 28 byte protocol overhead data per packet. 28 byte log data
Billing increments for standard IP is rounded up to next 1 kilobyte every session.

BGAN M2M 12 Month Plan Per SIM CardVery Low Data VoulmeLow Data VoulmeHigh Data VoulmeMedium Res PhotoHigh Res Photo
Comms Frequency1 daily1 hour10 minutes1 hour1 hour
Payload Bytes per Comms222222240*125,000110,000
Billing Bytes per Month30,500732,0004,392,00031,671,976136,867,892
Monthly Subscription Cost$36.70$36.70$53.90$136.70$136.70
Monthly Allowance2MB2MB5MB20MB20MB
$/MB Out of Bundle$23.35$23.35$13.30$6.80$6.85
Monthly Total Price$37$37$54$216$937

Inmarsat BGAN M2M Service Model Modem Cycled Once Per Day – plan based

Hughes 9502 satellite modem
High volume usage illustration
Data charged in bytes, not by time
Comms session = 28 byte protocol overhead data per packet. 28 byte log data
Billing increments for standard IP is rounded up to next 1 kilobyte every session.

BGAN M2M 12 Month Plan Per SIM CardLow Data VoulmeHigh Data VoulmeHigh Data Voulme5 Minute Data+Medium Res Photo5 Minute Data+Medium Res Photo
Comms Frequency1 daily5 minutes1minute1 per day3 per day
Payload Bytes per Comms24024024025,00025,000
Billing Bytes per Month1,055,0802,109,16010,541,8002,969,6045,977,657
Monthly Subscription Cost$36.50$36.50$95.00$53.90$53.90
Monthly Allowance2MB2MB10MB5MB5MB
$/MB Out of Bundle$23.35$23.35$9.50$13.30$13.30
Monthly Total Price$37$39$100$54$67

Inmarsat BGAN M2M Service Model Modem Cycled Every Session – High SIMS Data Pool Based

Hughes 9502 satellite modem
Data charged in bytes, not by time
Assume fixed $10.00 per SIM monthly fee and $10.00 per MB (Some providers may offer this for large numbers of SIM cards)

BGAN M2M 12 Month Plan Per SIM CardVery Low Data VoulmeLow Data VoulmeHigh Data VoulmeMedium Res PhotoHigh Res Photo
Comms Frequency1 daily1 hour10 minutes1 hour1 hour
Payload Bytes per Comms222222240*125,000110,000
Billing Bytes per Month30,500732,0004,392,00031,671,976136,867,892
Monthly Subscription Cost$10$10$10$10$10
Monthly Allowance0MB0MB0MB0MB0MB
$/MB Out of Bundle$10$10$10$10$10
Monthly Total Price$10.31$17.32$54$327$1,379

Inmarsat BGAN M2M Service Model Modem Cycled Every Session – High SIMS Data Pool Based

Hughes 9502 satellite modem
Data charged in bytes, not by time
Assume fixed $10.00/megabytes of data and SIM monthly fee waived (Some providers may offer this for large numbers of SIM cards)

BGAN M2M 12 Month Plan Per SIM CardLow Data VoulmeHigh Data VoulmeHigh Data Voulme5 Minute Data+Medium Res Photo5 Minute Data+Medium Res Photo
Comms Frequency1 daily5 minutes1minute1 per day3 per day
Payload Bytes per Comms24024024025,00025,000
Billing Bytes per Month1,055,0802,109,16010,541,8002,969,6045,977,657
Monthly Subscription Cost$10$10$10$10$10
Monthly Allowance0MB0MB0MB0MB0MB
$/MB Out of Bundle$10$10$10$10$10
Monthly Total Price$21$31$115$40$70

Inmarsat IsatData Pro Models

Data charged in bytes, not by time
Data charges are calculated purely on data volumes

IsatData Pro 10K Pooled PlanVery Low Data VoulmeLow Data VoulmeHigh Data VoulmeMedium Res PhotoHigh Res Photo
Comms Frequency1 daily1 hour5 minutes1 hour1 hour
Payload Bytes per Comms22222222825,000110,000
Data Bytes per Month6,771162,5042,002,75220,000,24488,001,076
Monthly Subscription Cost$14$14$14$14$14
Monthly Allowance10,00010,00010,00010,00010,000
Bytes Out of Bundle0152,5041,992,75219,990,24487,991,076
$/1000 Bytes Out of Bundle$0.75$0.75$0.75$0.75$0.75
Monthly $ Out of Bundle$0$114$1,495$14,993$65,993
Monthly Total Price$14$128$1,509$15,007$66,007

IsatData Pro 25K Pooled PlanVery Low Data VoulmeLow Data VoulmeHigh Data VoulmeMedium Res PhotoHigh Res Photo
Comms Frequency1 daily1 hour5 minutes1 hour1 hour
Payload Bytes per Comms22222222825,000110,000
Data Bytes per Month6,771162,5042,002,75220,000,24488,001,076
Monthly Subscription Cost$21$21$21$21$21
Monthly Allowance25,00025,00025,00025,00025,000
Bytes Out of Bundle0137,5041,977,75219,975,24487,976,076
$/1000 Bytes Out of Bundle$0.50$0.50$0.50$0.50$0.50
Monthly $ Out of Bundle$0$69$989$9,988$43,988
Monthly Total Price$21$90$1,010$10,009$44,009

IsatData Pro 100K Pooled PlanVery Low Data VoulmeLow Data VoulmeHigh Data VoulmeMedium Res PhotoHigh Res Photo
Comms Frequency1 daily1 hour5 minutes1 hour1 hour
Payload Bytes per Comms22222222825,000110,000
Data Bytes per Month6,771162,5042,002,75220,000,24488,001,076
Monthly Subscription Cost$29$29$29$29$29
Monthly Allowance100,000100,000100,000100,000100,000
Bytes Out of Bundle062,5041,902,75219,900,24487,901,076
$/1000 Bytes Out of Bundle$0.1$0.1$0.1$0.1$0.1
Monthly $ Out of Bundle$0$6$190$1,990$8,790
Monthly Total Price$29$35$219$2,019$8,819

Iridium Models

***Pricing per 10 byte block
Data charged in bytes, not by time. Data is charged in 10 byte block increments

Iridium per 10 Byte Block SBR Rate PlansVery Low Data VoulmeLow Data VoulmeHigh Data VoulmeMedium Res PhotoHigh Res Photo
Comms Frequency1 daily1 hour5 minutes1 hour1 hour
Payload Bytes per Comms22222222825,000110,000
Monthly 10 Byte Blocks67816,251200,2762,000,0258,800,109
Monthly Subscription Cost$27.50$66.00$66.00$66.00$66.00
Monthly Allowance8,00030,00030,00030,00030,000
Bytes Out of Bundle0132,5041,972,752119,970,24487,971,076
$/10 Bytes Out of Bundle$0.066$0.033$0.033$0.033$0.033
Monthly $ Out of Bundle$0$437$6,510$65,902$290,305
Monthly Total Price$28$503$6,576$65,968$290,371

Iridium per 10 Byte Block SBR VAR 3,000 Byte BundleVery Low Data VoulmeLow Data VoulmeHigh Data VoulmeMedium Res PhotoHigh Res Photo
Comms Frequency1 daily1 hour5 minutes1 hour1 hour
Payload Bytes per Comms22222222825,000110,000
Monthly 10 Byte Blocks67816,251200,2762,000,0258,800,109
Monthly Subscription Cost$12.00$12.00$12.00$12.00$12.00
Monthly Allowance3,0003,0003,0003,0003,000
Bytes Out of Bundle3,771159,5041,999,75219,997,24487,998,076
$/10 Bytes Out of Bundle$0.08$0.08$0.08$0.08$0.08
Monthly $ Out of Bundle$30$1,276$15,998$159,978$703,985
Monthly Total Price$42$1,288$16,010$159,990$703,997

Iridium 9523 Model

***Pricing per 30 seconds Call
Data charged in time increments, not bytes. Data is charged in 30 second blocks with flag fall.

Pivotel Iridium Pivot 50 Call PlanVery Low Data VoulmeLow Data VoulmeHigh Data VoulmeMedium Res PhotoHigh Res Photo
Monthly Base Price$50.00$75.00$99.00$99.00$99.00
Comms Frequency1 daily1 hour5 minutes1 hour1 hour
Bytes per Comms22422423025,000110,000
Bytes per second818818818818818
Call Duration (Seconds)22233136
30 Seconds per Comms11125
Comms per Month (Flag Falls)317328784732732
30 Second Blocks per Month31732878414643660
Flag Fall$0.40$0.40$0.40$0.40$0.40
30 Second Call Rate$0.60$0.60$0.60$0.60$0.60
Monthly Call Cost$31.00$732.00$7027$878.40$1756.80
Minus Monthly Included Calls-$15.00-$45.00-$75.00
-$75.00-$75.00
Monthly Total Price$66$762$7,051.20$902.40$1,780.80

Orbcomm Model

Data charged in bytes, not by time
Data charges are calculated purely on data volumes

Orbcomm VAR PlanVery Low Data VoulmeLow Data VoulmeHigh Data VoulmeMedium Res PhotoHigh Res Photo
Comms Frequency1 daily1 hour5 minutes1 hour1 hour
Payload Bytes per Comms22222222825,000110,000
Data Bytes per Month6,771162,5042,002,75220,000,24488,001,076
Monthly Plan$8.70$36.30$36.30$36.30$36.30
Included data7.5KB100KB100KB100KB100KB
$/KB Overage$0.95$0.30$0.30$0.30$0.30
Monthly Total Price$8.70$55$607$6,006$26,407