Hybrid networks involving satellites and cellular coverage are becoming an increasingly important aspect to ship and offshore vessel connectivity. At an interview with Riviera Maritime Media, Toni Lee Rudnicki, Speedcast VP of Global Marketing, says the development of hybrid networks that use satellite and LTE are necessary to match growing customers expectations.

Providers of satellite communications to maritime mobility markets are integrating their VSAT solutions with mobile phone networks to provide improved broadband connectivity from port to port. Also, the introduction of high-throughput satellites (HTS), are delivering higher bandwidth in spot beams that complement existing wide-beam Ku-band capacity. All of this technology is deployed to enhance connectivity for shipowners, seafarers and ship passengers, said Toni Lee. She said overall solutions were needed to match growing customer expectations.

It is unique to maritime that there could be multiple situations of blockages of signal. That is why there is a need for redundancy of antennas and technology and perhaps in satellite constellations and orbits. Speedcast has provided a multi-band and multi-orbit VSAT service to Carnival Cruises’ Vista-class ships. It worked with Intelsat, SES and Telesat for the satellite coverage and Intellian for the VSAT hardware to deliver this super-fast broadband service that peaked at 3.1 Gbps while in New York, US. VSAT antennas had to be designed for multiple frequencies in Ku- and C-bands and multiple orbits with coverage in these frequencies from geostationary satellites and Ka-band.

Satellite service providers also work with modem providers, such as Comtech EF Data, Newtec and iDirect to develop technology that moulds waveforms to increase the amount of data that can be carried between satellites and ships.

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