Nowadays people need to be connected to the internet anytime and anywhere, even on the world’s oceans and seas. Broadband is needed in vessels either for entertainment purposes or for business purposes. Internet connectivity is a vital requirement for crew retention and passenger satisfaction. This can be provided only by using satellite communications (VSAT) technology at sea, known as “Maritime VSAT.” There are various applications for Maritime VSAT which will be discussed in this blog. These applications require maintaining the connection between satellites and vessels during their movements at sea. This can be achieved by auto-acquisition and stabilized antenna systems, and the automatic switching technique that switches the traffic among VSAT beams.
Maritime VSAT can support many types of services such as voice, video conferencing, fax, email as well as maritime surveillance and solution services, namely:
- Downloading electronic charts
- Monitoring of vessel location
- Transmitting information related to vessel operations
- Reporting finishing activities to comply with maritime and commercial regulations
Maritime VSAT provides high speed connectivity to deliver these essential services to ships with excellent QoS. Three different frequency bands are currently used for maritime VSAT technology (Ku-Band, Ka-Band & C-Band). Each of these frequency bands has its suitable applications based on its own characteristics. The following comparison can illustrate the main differences among them:
|Frequency range||11 to 18 GHz||26 to 40 GHz||4 to 8 GHz|
|Antenna Size (diameter)||0.9m to 1.8m||0.6m to 1.2m||1.8m to 3.7m|
|Suitable for||Small Vessels||Cruise Ships||Tankers or large vessels|
The question now is “Who will need such broadband services at the sea?”
In fact, many maritime companies consider the use of broadband services at sea for their crew and passengers (such as tourists in cruise ships, fishers, sailors, engineers at oil rigs and personnel sailing tankers) as a critical component. Maritime VSAT technology can guarantee good Quality of Service (QoS) for all these applications during the vessel movement in almost any weather conditions.
Maritime VSAT Components:
- Maritime VSAT components at the vessel:
A stabilized VSAT antenna is installed on the vessel which is connected to a satellite router. This satellite router is responsible for routing the services to the LAN on the vessel, while the antenna is responsible for connecting the vessel to the global VSAT system using one of the VSAT frequency bands (C-band, Ku-band or Ka-band).
2. Maritime VSAT components on land:
The terrestrial landing point for maritime services is the Teleport. The teleport antenna receives the signals from the satellite. This antenna is connected to the hub system, which is subsequently connected to the internet. Due to the importance of this hub system it is usually monitored by NMS that is also responsible for controlling and configuring the maritime VSAT system.
Maritime VSAT Market:
Maritime VSAT customer types vary based on the type of the reequired service. For example, government agencies need maritime VSAT to control navigation & fishing, while oil and gas companies need maritime VSAT to enhance their business by monitoring oil & gas rigs as oil and gas pipelines need to be monitored 24 hours per day and 7 days per week to guarantee the safe transmission of oil and gas through these pipelines.
The number of ships navigating the world’s oceans is increasing rapidly due to the enhancement in world trade. This growing enhancement in trade increases maritime traffic in return. It is expected that maritime VSAT Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) will reach 13 to 14% before 2021.
Link Communications Systems provides Maritime VSAT as a leading satellite Internet provider worldwide. LCS provides service to dozens of ships in the fishing, leisure, oil & gas, and freight shipping markets utilizing antenna systems from Intellian and Cobham and Inmarsat and providing services over KU, KA, and C band. The future of the maritime VSAT market is set to grow even further as is the future of broadband communications all over the world.