Speedcast Targets More Flexibility for Cruise Ship Connectivity


Supplying connectivity to a number of major cruise lines, Speedcast is upping its bandwidth levels to serve current and future needs.

The company services not only Carnival Corporation but smaller luxury brands including Silver and Crystal, while also partnering with ship management companies to deliver fully-managed communications and onboard IT support to their customers with smaller fleets and minimal IT resources, said Brent Horwitz, senior vice president and general manager, 

Question and Answer:

CIN: What may be new at Speedcast as it comes to your offerings to your cruise customers?

Horwitz: We are in the process of rolling our our next-generation unified global platform that will enable bandwidth levels that have never before seen in the cruise market. This will give us more flexibility to serve our customers’ future growth needs. To enable redundancy and global consistency, our updated network will seamlessly combine a primary, secondary and tertiary links as part of a global network.

In addition to our hybrid network, we have also been focused on delivering the latest technologies to optimize each ship’s bandwidth capacity to the fullest, with options to streamline and simplify onboard network management. 

CIN: What are the trends in connectivity?

Horwitz: Obtaining optimal bandwidth levels to deliver a better guest and crew user experience while maintaining critical operational networks is always top of mind to cruise operators. 

With many of our cruise partners looking for cost efficiencies due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are focusing on ways to help them use the bandwidth they have in the most efficient way possible while optimizing the use of all available technologies to deliver the connectivity they expect onboard. We do this by going beyond standard VSAT and leveraging LTE and software-based management solutions to seamlessly manage network activity.

CIN: Can you share metrics on the typical usage per ship and how it has grown in a year and where you see it going in a year?

Horwitz: As a general rule, we have seen bandwidth levels increase by about 20% year over year. This is primarily because Internet content gets richer each year, more passengers want to continue to use their mobile devices like they do on land, as well as the cruise lines’ desire to improve guests satisfaction scores, which they constantly measure.

That said, each ship has a unique set of requirements based on a numbers of factors including passenger capacity, global position, customer demographics and onboard networking equipment, so there is not a one-size-fits-all answer.

CIN: What role is Speedcast playing in terms of assisting cruise lines with connectivity during COVID-19?

Horwitz: By offering flexibility to deliver VSAT bandwidth onboard. Our connectivity services have been the crew’s only access to the outside world to stay connected with their families during the lengthy quarantine period. In addition, with so many ships on the move repatriating crew members, our cruise team has been working tirelessly around the clock to provide new satellite beams as dozens of ships navigate new routes and return crew members home to different cruise locations around the world.

Additionally, we have implemented a remote installation rollout of our new standardized modem platform, Newtec Dialog. It is a single-service and multi-service VSAT platform from ST Engineering iDirect that allows maritime operators and service providers to build and adapt their networks with significant flexibility improvements from prior solutions. It supports multiple satellites, frequency bands, and spot beams and is scalable from five to hundreds of thousands of terminals. As a result of the global pandemic, Speedcast teams collaborated to successfully create a fully remote installation process that the IT personnel onboard can complete, supported by our shore side teams. Since April, our team has converted a total of 39 links across 30 ships, recently ramping up to a record 10 migrations in a single week, with a target goal of reaching 15 migrations per week soon.

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