High Throughput On The High Seas: Observations From Nor-Shipping 2015

By Denis Sutherland, Director of Business Development, iDirect

Denis SutherlandTrade show panels always make for lively market discussions. So when I was asked to join “What’s New in Maritime Satellite Communications: A look at the Coming Advancements in Technology” at the Nor-Shipping event in Oslo this past week, I jumped aboard—no pun intended.

The hot topic of the panel, hosted by Gottlieb International and sponsored by Speedcast, was High Throughput Satellites (HTS). More specifically, how to prepare service providers for delivering high-speed services to the maritime market. You can find my presentation from the panel here.

For those who aren’t quite convinced that maritime is a growing market for high-speed voice and data services, take a look at what the experts have been saying lately:

  • NSR hones in on significant growth projections in its latest Satcom Markets Report, indicating capacity (both HTS and FSS) driving annual revenues past the $5 billion market by 2024.
  • According to the COMSYS Maritime market report, we’re entering a new phase of growth and the defining factors include rising end user adoption and service diversification.

I believe that the advent of HTS has huge implications for the shipping industry. Here’s a taste of what that demand in which COMSYS is describing looks like today:

  • VSAT broadband networks are providing higher bandwidth applications to improve operations, productivity and crew welfare. Applications like route planning, engine diagnostics and weather applications are in high demand.
  • When it comes to cruise, passengers want to stay connected using their personal wireless devices for social media, video and mobile calling services.

And all such opportunities are indeed real. Speaking on the panel, Simon Gatty-Saunt from SES gave a glimpse into some of the exciting HTS plans for the company. This involves three satellites planned for launch in 2017.

What all this means is that as an industry, we must be exploring new ways in which higher throughputs can help meet the escalating demands for voice and data connectivity. That involves innovation.

Denis-at-Speedcast-EventOur panel explored some new technologies that will prepare service providers for high performance service on the high seas. One example I cited was the concept of multi-provider roaming. To me, this is a very interesting innovation to watch, as new hardware and software capabilities can allow a vessel to roam onto another operators network. It’s enabled through new management system for sharing key terminal parameters and service levels.

Other Notables from Oslo

Much of the talk at the show centered on the launch of IntelsatOneFlex, Intelsat’s customizable, high-performance managed service.

IntelsatOne Flex uses iDirect Velocity, which is designed for large-scale global HTS networks. It’s a great example for how the scalability, performance and higher throughput capabilities of Velocity can help service providers easily and cost-effectively launch services across mobility markets, such as maritime.

Velocity has also been tested and is ready for service launch on Thor 7 in the very near future. At the Telenor channel event, much buzz surrounded the fact that Thor 7 in now in orbit, and I look forward to seeing the scalability and performance of Velocity showcased on this service.

Here’s the big takeaway from Nor-Shipping this past week: Demand for high-performance applications in maritime is as strong as ever. And advanced satellite networks, better network management and better technology overall have service providers in the best position to capitalize. And that’s very exciting.

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