SES/O3b facing competition from SpaceX
September 1, 2022
The SpaceX contract with the Royal Caribbean Group to equip all its vessels with Starlink broadband means that SES and its much-lauded O3b/mPOWER technology now has what looks like serious competition.
The SES mPOWER satellites are due to start coming into service by the end of Q1/2023. SES is using SpaceX to launch the first six mPOWER craft in the October-December period. Meanwhile, the Royal Caribbean fleet is using the older and less powerful O3b satellites which operate in the same orbits as the upcoming mPOWER craft.
SES signed its Royal Caribbean contract back in 2012 to a (then) multi-year, multimillion dollar contract starting with the huge Oasis of the Seas liner.
SES states that it firmly believes broadband competition in the cruise industry is good because it drives the industry to develop innovative experiences for our customers that ultimately benefits passengers.
SES says it welcomes the SpaceX Starlink broadband competition, commentin: “We believe SES’s Medium Earth Orbit [as supplied by O3b/mPOWER] offering, including the eagerly awaited upcoming O3b mPOWER Service, represents the best value in an open competitive market. This is underlined by the fact that SES is serving five out of the six major cruise operators.”
Royal Caribbean is – or has been – a major customer for SES/O3b, but Carnival Corporation is larger.
“Royal Caribbean International remains a long-term (decade-long) partner for SES, and has signed extended framework agreements for O3b mPOWER as previously announced. While it has been an incredibly fruitful partnership, it has never been an exclusive one. Our partnership started back in 2013 with the launch of Royal Caribbean’s VOOM Wi-Fi Service enabled by O3b, and one that we look forward to continuing to grow and evolve in the coming years,” added SES.
The financial terms of the SpaceX/Royal Caribbean contract have not been disclosed.