As cruise activities begin to return to normal, operators are facing a new challenge. The amount of data consumed at sea is about to grow dramatically, and to ensure guests have a great cruise experience, cruise liners will need the right level of connectivity to support the delivery of huge volumes of data and real-time services.
Digital consumption is increasing exponentially as the number of smart devices connected to a ship’s network is soon expected to exceed as many as 10,000 devices. Passengers and crew are engaging more frequently with real-time video chat and meeting sites, and uploading video content onto their social media sites. Data-intensive apps and wearables employing RFID technology are now becoming the norm, requiring around-the-clock connectivity to the ship’s Wi-Fi network. Additionally, much of a ship’s operations infrastructure now relies on data residing in the cloud.
In anticipation of this boom in digital consumption, four of the five major cruise lines have entered into long-term strategic framework agreements with SES, enabling a new-era of internet connectivity services to their cruise fleets.
The Power of MEO
Capable of relaying multiple gigabits per second to a single ship, Cruise mPOWERED—SES’s latest service offering for the cruise industry—delivers the ubiquitous, lowest latency high speed connectivity service cruise liners need to meet their growing bandwidth demands. Delivered over our next-generation O3b mPOWER network system and operating in medium earth orbit (MEO), this new system includes a “follow-the-ship” capability providing an unprecedented increase in flexibility and throughput.
O3b mPOWER will allow the cruise industry to leverage a highly resilient global network and deliver an always-on, fibre-like connectivity experience with seamless and secured access to cloud-based platforms and applications for shipboard productivity, passenger communications and entertainment.
Cruise mPOWERED is the only service offering a multi-orbit solution combining MEO and GEO technologies. While MEO satisfies the growing need for uncontended, high bandwidth, low latency services, GEO provides high reliability for applications tolerant of latency and requiring relatively low bandwidth.
Launched just this past October, SES-17 is our latest GEO satellite covering the Americas, the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean. With 200 spot beams and a digital payload, SES-17 will operate in concert with O3b mPOWER, enabling far greater flexibility and efficiency, while guaranteeing high-quality coverage, no matter the location. Both O3b mPOWER and SES-17 use our Automatic Resource Controller (ARC) software, designed specifically to concentrate power in specific beams and switch traffic seamlessly as and when needed.
With Cruise mPOWERED, cruise lines will be able to dynamically optimize the required bandwidth and increase connectivity to any ship wherever it may be. The service will deliver the fastest internet speeds at sea that result in truly immersive guest experiences, while also allowing cruise ships to achieve operational efficiencies with real-time condition monitoring and other connected operational technology.
By Simon Maher, SES
Simon Maher is vice president of global sales for cruise maritime services at SES