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Twelve FREE Tips: Be Sure Your BGAN is Ready and Tuned Up!

December 16, 2012

For BGAN users, especially emergency responders, here are a dozen things you should do periodically to be sure your terminal is “ready for prime time.”  This is
like changing the oil in your vehicle – not something to neglect.

1.  Know where your BGAN is, and all the accessories.  Be sure you have access –
the key to the closet, etc.

2.  Be sure you have the latest version of Launchpad – check the Inmarsat page at least twice a year.  Older versions work, but not forever.  The new 5.0 version has some interesting features:

  • Eliminates the Usage button, which was always a bit erratic.
  • The GPS indicator says “GPS ready” instead of “new GPS.”
  • Signal strength is always shown numerically, which is helpful.
  • There is a call log, and some nice telephony features.
  • A few other small interface improvements.

3.  Be *very* sure you have the latest firmware, the program in your BGAN that makes it work.  This is important, and it’s not something you want to do just before you deploy to an emergency zone.  Again, check the Inmarsat firmware upgrade page.

  • It’s a good idea to tape a note on your BGAN with: (1) date last tested, (2) version of firmware.
  • You can check the firmware version by going to the diagnostic page under the Help menu.

4.  Download the current documents you will need, including:

  • Launchpad 5.0 User Guide – you can download the zip file at the same page as #2.
  • The User Guide for your model of BGAN – check with your service provider.

5.  Make a CD!  Save #2, #3, and #4 on it, and anything else you would hate to lose if your laptop fails you.  (USB drives are easy to lose.)

6.  Go back to #5 and actually do this – it’s surprising how many people have been stopped cold because of computer problems (or theft).

7.  Review your kit, to see what accessories you don’t have but might need.  A car charger, so you can go mobile if necessary?  (Tested it lately?)  Spare battery?  Spare AC charger?  Solar blanket?  Printed instructions?

8.  Be sure the phone numbers and email addresses for your service provider’s customer care are with the BGAN.

9.  If you are the only person who knows how to use the BGAN, start planning for a backup.  Things can happen when you’re on vacation.

10.  Be sure to bookmark our “Holding Down Usage” article to avoid expensive accidental downloads.

11.  Track your usage and prevent surprises.  You can set up email alert notifications to one or more addresses through your service provider, so that you can track your usage.  Also, you can request Data Manager, which enables you to check your recent usage over a low-kilobyte browser window.  Finally, you can have your service provider put a limit on total usage, but you’ll need a way to remove the limit if you need to (for example, over satphone).

12.  Test your BGAN often, at least quarterly.

We welcome other tips from our readers – just send email to

Past articles on preparedness and communications readiness:

Are Your Comms Ready?  Four Myths About Emergency Communications Readiness

Comms Preparedness Can You Pass This Test?

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Disaster Response

Preparedness: Are You Ready?

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