Satellite Airtime Pricing Models

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This document compares the satellite airtime pricing models with the use of the NRT/NRL from the below satellite providers:

  • Globalstar
  • Inmarsat BGAN M2M
  • Iridium
  • Microsatellite

This document is intended as a guide only, it is illustrative only, in US$, and should not be used to calculate exact costs, as there may be specially priced services for some customers. The data models illustrate the typical airtime costs for two types of application, namely

  • an alert /small data application, e.g. a water level sensor for monitoring tank level, which only transmits the level once or twice per day and therefore requiring a very small amount of data, is well served by message services such as the Iridium or Microsatellite
  • 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

There are two service types to consider.
One being a full two way service requiring a full IP connection, which delivers full functionality and the ability to closely couple with the data logger / RTU Neon field unit and provide services such as re programming and re configuration in the field from a web browser. The other being a message based, essentially one way connection, which delivers the sensor data only. For this document we call these a full service data and a message based data service.

The data models also assume power is removed from the Inmarsat BGAN M2M for the purpose of modeling, requiring these systems to re-establish 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 Full Service Data

Scenarios for full service data

For the purposes of generating indicative payload sizes and data volumes, the following scenarios are used. These values account for logger RTD and but no 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

Scenarios for message service data

For the purposes of generating indicative payload sizes and data volumes, the following scenarios are used.
6. Very Low Data Volume – Once a Day
  3 data channels once per day = 12 bytes per day or 372 bytes per month

7. Low Data Volume – Once an Hour
  3 data channels every hour = 12 bytes per hour or 8928 bytes per month

8. High Data Volume – Once every 5 Minutes
  6 data channels every 5 minutes = 72 bytes per hour or 107,136 bytes 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 approximately 9.6%. IP Camera overheads incur slightly smaller overheads of approximately 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.
Note that when using message services like Iridium and Microsatellite the full Neon server protocol is not implemented because these networks have high latency and cost making it impractical, this means that there will be no protocol overheads when these services are used and it will be just encoded logged data that is transmitted.

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.
Corporate and Government rate plans provided by Pivotel service provider as an example.

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/Lower Volume/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/Higher Volume/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$17$54$327$1,379

Inmarsat BGAN M2M Service Model Modem Cycled Once Per Day/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

Iridium Models

***Pricing per 10 byte block and using the Corporate and Government rate plans provided by Pivotel service provider.
Data charged in bytes, not by time. Data is charged in 10 byte block increments, below example shows if the data fits within the 10 byte block (8 bytes)

Iridium per 10 Byte Block SBD Rate PlansVery Low Data VoulmeLow Data VoulmeHigh Data Voulme
Comms Frequency1 daily1 hour5 minutes
Payload Bytes per Comms888
Data Bytes per Month2485,95271,424
Monthly 10 Byte Blocks2487448928
Monthly Subscription Cost$16.50$27.50$66.00
Monthly Allowance (Bytes/Block)3,000/3008,000/80030,000/3,000
Bytes Out of Bundle0041,424
$/10 Bytes Out of Bundle$0.11$0.066$0.033
Monthly $ Out of Bundle$0$0$196
Monthly Total Price$17$28$262

***Pricing per 10 byte block and using the Corporate and Government rate plans provided by Pivotel service provider.
Data charged in bytes, not by time. Data is charged in 10 byte block increments, below example shows if the data is over the 10 byte block (12 bytes)
Iridium per 10 Byte Block SBD Rate PlansVery Low Data VoulmeLow Data VoulmeHigh Data Voulme
Comms Frequency1 daily1 hour5 minutes
Payload Bytes per Comms121212
Data Bytes per Month3728,928107,136
Monthly 10 Byte Blocks621,48817,856
Monthly Subscription Cost$16.50$49.50$66.00
Monthly Allowance (Bytes/Block)3,000/30017,000/1,70030,000/3,000
Bytes Out of Bundle0077,136
$/10 Bytes Out of Bundle$0.11$0.033$0.033
Monthly $ Out of Bundle$0$0$490
Monthly Total Price$17$50$556

Microsatellite Model

***Pricing per Number of Transmissions (Max 144 bytes). Transmission blocks must be purchased before connection is provided.
Typical cost of a block of messages is $1000. Latency of the service can be several hours, hence the High Data Volume calculations are not applicable.
Data charged for number of transmissions

Microsatellite per 10 Byte Block SBD Rate PlansVery Low Data Voulme
Comms Frequency1 daily
Payload Bytes per Comms12
Transmission per Month31
Monthly Subscription Cost$1
Monthly Allowance
Transmissions
31
Out of Bundle$0
Monthly Total Price$1