Cruise ships demanding high satellite bandwidth

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It cannot be denied that if you put three or four thousand passengers, and a near-similar number of crew, aboard a cruise ship they are going to want connectivity. A report from Northern Sky Research (NSR) says that “there are few satellite sectors that are seeing such record levels of a growth to a customer’s single location”.

That the “single location” happens to be floating around the Caribbean or Mediterranean means that satellite is the perfect solution for those on board, provided the satellites can keep up with demand.

NSR says that these ‘floating towns’ are being served. Italy’s MSC Cruises is absorbing a typical 300 Mb/s to its latest flagship (MSC Meravglia) from VSAT supplier Marlink for the 4500 guests on board. Intelsat’s EPIC fleet is a key supplier.

Another ship, Carnival Horizon, using Speedcast as its supplier, delivered a spectacular 3.24 Gb/s at the vessel’s naming voyage back in May. Speedcast tapped into Intelsat and Telesat as its satellite sources, and Carnival described the capacity as a record for the industry.

PJ Beylier, Speedcast CEO said: “The delivery of this record-breaking solution leverages the latest innovations in end-to-end networking, high throughput satellites, next-generation modems and optimisation technology in order to reach a new standard in guest experience; one which allows them to enjoy an internet experience similar to what they have at home.”

NSR quantifies this exponential demand for bandwidth, and says that more than 570 Gb/s of growth is anticipated between 2017 and 2027.  “Unlike the macro-level trends around the significant pressures OTT and non-linear video are putting on DTH and video markets, for the Passenger Maritime market, consumer video consumption is the ‘killer app’.  While we can argue that satellite operators would probably continue generating revenues through their well-established video businesses, headwinds in one market are turning into opportunities elsewhere in the satellite sector.”

The NSR report says that commercial passenger markets will post double-digit revenue growth over the next ten years, adding almost $1 Billion in retail revenues for the satellite industry.  “On the footsteps of the recent bandwidth-battles earlier this year where individual ships posted record-setting throughput from both GEO and Non-GEO connectivity, the sector is at the forefront of high-end satcom deployments.  Between GEO and Non-GEO HTS (High Throughput Satellites), we should continue to see significant innovation, throughput records, and ultimately revenue growth, coming out of the passenger maritime sector, in particular from cruise ship owners.”

“At over $1.4 billion in retail revenues by 2027, and 570 Gbps of capacity growth, NSR believes the commercial passenger connectivity space remains a key source of ‘new satcom growth’.  Just as NSR explored in the business aviation market earlier this week, higher capacity systems that are bringing much lower prices into the market are accelerating growth.  While the value-chain continues to struggle with the best models and methods to approach cruise lines, one thing is clear – the bandwidth battles are only beginning,” says NSR.


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