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Frequently Asked Questions – Mobile Satellite Systems
Ground Control manufactures the Toughsat line of mobile satellite antenna systems and we are also the service provider for all mobile VSAT systems. Our manufactured equipment also works with any iDirect provider worldwide.
BGAN (short for “Broadband Global Area Network) are small terminals that can fit in a laptop case and can connect with one of four satellites for transfer speeds up to 492Kbps. However, BGAN charges by the Megabyte downloaded/uploaded at about $5 a MB which is far more than VSAT mobile dish service. The trade off is BGAN is very portable compared to VSAT (satellite dishes). BGAN service also works globally with one service plan, so if you’re a world traveler, BGAN may be a perfect fit. Our satellite systems on the other hand can not be carried in a laptop case and service plans may need to be changed in different countries.
Ground Control. We are a leader in mobile satellite Internet access using premium iDirect service and iDirect satellite routers. If there is a problem, we are available for support 24×7. You may also use our line of mobile satellite equipment with any other iDirect provider anywhere in the world.
.98 vs 1.2 Meter Satellite Dish
A 1.2 Square Meter satellite dish is slightly elliptical (normally) and has a horizontal diameter of about 4 feet (48 inches).
A .98 Square Meter dish has a diameter of about 3′ 4″ (39 inches).
Yes. All Ground Control mobile VSAT satellite systems create a standard local area network for any type computer or wireless device. The Toughsat ACU (antenna control unit) will create a 100 foot radius 802.11 wireless “G” access point.
Yes, absolutely. You may use the robust encryption, or you may at any time disable the wireless and limit connections to the network with Ethernet cables.
No… a certified mobile installer is required since installation is fairly complicated (This does not pertain to the Flyaway Toughsat that requires no installation). You do have the option of becoming a mobile VSAT certified installer for a nominal fee using our online VSAT certification course. Ground Control has professional mobile satellite Installers throughout the U.S. and Canada. If you are using your own provider, or are located outside of North America, please contact a Ground Control sales representative for your installation options.
On the Toughsat, simply press the “Deploy” button on the controller (or from any connected computer) and the dish deploys and locks to the satellite automatically in about 3 to 7 minutes. All systems are completely self-contained and do not require any kind of computer to connect to the satellite and create a local area network. There is no physical labor involved in setting up the dishes or network connection. Once the satellite is found, you are online. Simply run your web browser or e-mail program.
No. All mobile VSAT dish systems require the vehicle or rig to be parked in order to connect on the satellite. There are In-Motion BGAN satellite domes that magnetically mount to a vehicle roof, however, service fees are much higher than VSAT (satellite dish) service.
The larger the dish, the less that “rain fade” will hinder performance. However, it takes a fair amount of rain to knock off even our smallest dishes. Transmission may be irregular if signal quality dips, which is rare and happens only in a severe downpour. Wind can also be a factor, but our Toughsat mobile systems are designed to withstand enormous wind gusts with no-backlash braking technology, a great Toughsat feature.
On the Toughsat, the AutoStow is for when you accidentally drive off and leave the dish up. For autostow to work, the system must be turned on (note – we do offer an integrated AutoStow battery if power is accidentally shut off). If the vehicle moves more than 10 feet, the onboard GPS will recognize the vehicle is moving and automatically stow the dish. Also, if something moves in front of the dish for longer than 10 seconds, taking the signal offline, the dish will stow. While these autostow features are not a guarantee for your hardware’s safety, they are good line of defense to protect your investment. Please note that damage to your antenna caused by a moving vehicle is not covered under your Ground Control warranty.
The system can operate on any mobile platform that gives the dish room to rotate in place. If mounting on top of a truck or trailer roof, please review the dimensions of the Toughsat XP 1.2 and 98 Meter Dishes. If mounting on top of a vehicle, we recommend using the Fly-And-Drive Toughsat that will mount a Toughsat to most any vehicle roof rack. Ground Control also sells a self contained multi-purpose T-100 communications trailer that will work with all mobile dishes we offer.
The Toughsat was designed to remove the complexities of connecting. Simply press the “Power Button” on the ACU and wait a few seconds for the system to boot and the panel lights to stop blinking. Next, press the “Deploy” button and that is it. All mobile systems will automatically go up and lock onto the correct satellite. Once this happens, the network will activate and you may immediately connect to the Internet at high-speed. To stow the dish, simply press the “Stow” button. The dish will stow in about 2 minutes (Toughsat), and you may then drive away leaving power on or off. (Leaving power on is helpful for bookmobiles that perform frequent stops).
Yes. Just press the “Stow” button on the front panel (or from any connected browser) and the dish will stow automatically. When you arrive at the new location, simply press on the “Find Satellite” button. There is an optional remote keypad that allows the Toughsat ACU buttons to be placed on the drivers dashboard.
On our earlier mobile systems, there was a bracket that could add DirecTV and Dish Network, but satellites constantly change and many have lost their satellite TV because of these moves. If you require TV, we highly recommend the purchase of an inexpensive mobile TV system separate from your Internet/data connection.
Ground Control sells an excellent VoIP package that has been optimized for satellite connectivity. You may buy our phones, or you may purchase a $99 VoIP adapter from us and then use it with any standard corded or cordless phone. Many of our customer have had success using Skype over our network as well.
Our fastest iDirect solution is 20Mbps down and 5Mbps up. We also offer dedicated “unshared” channels that offer speeds of 20Mbps down and 7Mbps up. For more information on our service packages please call a Ground Control representative, or review our North American iDirect services or find our services Internationally.
Yes. One publicly routable IP address is standard with all accounts, and more are available from Ground Control.
Yes. Our iDirect services work with with many VPN’s. We also sell the Encore series of VPN devices if you are looking for a proven VPN solution over satellite.
As much as you like. If the dish is locked on satellite, and your computer is turned on, you are online.
Yes… however, service is dependant on the coverage area or “footprint” of the satellite you are connected to. Please review coverage maps of service in your region. The map will show where the signal strength is stronger and weaker. Larger dishes and radios are able to connect in regions that have a weaker signal.
Yes, this is how installations are normally done. Ground Control will dispatch a certified mobile installer to your rig location.
Firmware upgrades are always free, and easy to perform. With the Toughsat, upgrades are done by pressing one button from any connected browser. We also offer auto-updating that requires no user interaction.
Absolutely, 24 x 7 for all iDirect systems, and our support staff is based here in the United States. It’s always free for service subscribers, and we even give you an 800 number to call us. Online mobile satellite support is available.