Norwegian ferry operator Color Line is installing Telenor’s communications hardware throughout its fleet
Expected high demand for bandwidth for passenger services is driving technology investment in satellite communications. Harris CapRock provides satellite communications to about half of the world’s ocean-going cruise ships. President Tracey Haslam told Norwegian Solutions’ sister publication Marine Electronics & Communications that penetration of bandwidth in cruise has increased as it supplies more at lower costs. “People want to use this for social media, resulting in stronger demand. Growth is such that there are more devices on board than there are passengers.”
This leads to cruise shipowners investing in more onboard bandwidth to attract customers. “If cruise ships want to compete they will need more available gigabytes,” said Ms Haslam. “That is more than one satellite transponder per ship, so high throughput satellites are needed to meet this demand from cruise.” The satellite service is useful until cruise ships operate in areas that are outside the coverage or the signal is blocked. For these scenarios, Harris CapRock offers wireless radio and long-term evolution (LTE) 4G mobile technology. It has deployed this radio technology in Alaska for cruise shipping, as satellite signals are blocked by mountains because of the low angle of sight between the antenna and satellites. Ms Haslam added: “We will also have radio technology going into Norway, where fjords provide obstructions to the satellite coverage.”
The increasing number of technical solutions for passenger services means that there is a challenge for passenger shipowners in choosing the right ones in which to invest. Ms Haslam explained: “With the rapid growth in bandwidth demand and availability, the challenge is in picking the right technology. We are working on future-proofing, so we can ensure that we deliver bandwidth and technology that can keep pace with cruise sector demand.” She added: “We offer an always-on, multi-method delivery with redundancy to deliver the guest experience. The internet needs to work all the time, as passengers can become frustrated if they cannot be connected.”
On passenger ferries the challenge is compounded by the short amount of time that passengers spend on the ships and the constant flow of users. Ferry operator Color Line has overcome some of these issues by deploying WiFi and fast broadband across its fleet to enable passengers to use their own devices on its ships. It has expanded its contract with Telenor Maritime to include VSAT and wireless networks.
Chief information officer for Color Line Marianne Gade Gørbitz expects these connectivity platforms to enhance passenger experience on its fleet of six vessels. “The agreement with Telenor Maritime means we can offer full WiFi coverage on our vessels with increased capacity and bandwidth during the first quarter of 2017,” she said. “This enables further investment in digital solutions to provide guests with the best experience on board.” Telenor Maritime will provide VSAT connectivity to vessels Color Fantasy, Bohus, Color Magic, SuperSpeed 1, Color Viking and SuperSpeed 2.
This will be delivered through Telenor Satellite Broadcasting’s Thor 7 Ka-band high performance satellite and Ku-band coverage when required. Color Line operates ferry routes from Norway to Denmark and Germany.
“The introduced connectivity platform will be a major stepping stone for the ongoing digital transformation within Color Line,” said Telenor Maritime chief executive Frode Støldal. “With our connectivity platform, we take full end-to-end responsibility for connecting the applications, the access layer with the onboard mobile and WiFi systems, and the backhaul from Ka or Ku-band satellite and land-based mobile broadband from our network of global operators.”
Telenor Maritime has acquired SatPoint to increase its market share of maritime satellite communications users in Scandinavia. SatPoint has a strong position in the Baltic Sea market with more than 125 maritime broadband installations on ferries, merchant ships, and floating accommodation units.
Telenor Satellite confirmed that satellite communications provider Marlink has been given Platinum Service Provider status for the provision of services on its THOR 7 satellite.
Marlink is providing high-throughput connectivity to its customers’ vessels across all its market segments, ranging from fishing and commercial shipping to yachts and passenger vessels.
Julian Crudge, director for network and data services at Telenor Satellite, said: “This agreement represents further growth and commitment in our long-standing relationship with Marlink and we are committed to supporting its expansion plans, delivering reliable connections at sea throughout Europe.”
Thor 7 is Telenor Satellite’s first Ka-band satellite, providing regional coverage with a favourable look angle over the main European shipping lanes.