Satellite Comms – Limitations, Pros and Cons

As digital technologies continue to dominate the global communications marketplace, there is now more emphasis than ever on superyachts to be “connected” at sea at all times. Whether it’s for yacht owners working on board who need speedy internet and connectivity for work or for leisure, demands of end users are higher than they’ve ever been. Satellite communications offer a speedy, efficient and reliable solution. Whilst there are many positives in this communication resource, there are also considerations that yacht owners and crew should be mindful of before investing.

Some key considerations before you choose your satellite comms package are:

  • Find a communications provider who can help determine your usage and budget requirements and propose a solution to meet those requirements.
  • Try to establish the volume of users and the type of data they expect to use on an average basis.
  • Determine what services are required, VoIP, streaming video or SKYPE for example as some services may be blocked by some service providers.
  • Determine the area of coverage you need as some services are limited in specific global regions.
  • Ensure that the user is fully aware of the performance and limitations of services supplied.
  • Ensure you have a facility to track and inform you of your data consumption.
  • Try to control usage of the crew, particularly when you have guests on board.
  • Try to have multiple sources of internet rather than relying solely on one service.
  • Try to educate users on ways to manage and control their usage to avoid excessive bandwidth consumption.
  • Try to have one person on board who understands the system and is responsible for the control of bandwidth usage.

There are many pros to using satellite comms aboard:

Satellite communications are a great resource that allow superyacht owners, crew and visitors to communicate quickly in a variety of ways, with global reach.

Flexibility: The ability to upgrade/downgrade bandwidth at short notice i.e. owner on/owner off situation.

Provides coverage over the globe: A typical sized V Sat system now provides complete global coverage. This is of course dependant on the satellite orbit/antenna size etc

Crew Welfare Access to the internet and internet based voice calls are important to crews. It provides crew with the ability to keep in touch with friends and family at home.

So the benefits of an effective communications solution are obvious. But with many providers offering a variety of solutions across a range of technologies it can be difficult to decide what solution is right for your yacht.

Satellite comms technology on a superyacht

Limitations and cons of satellite comms include:
Cost: Satellites are not cheap to build, place in orbit and then maintain. Space for geostationary satellite positioning is limited as well as the fact that they cannot be changed yearly and have to recover their costs and show profit within their short time in space. This means that the operational costs are high, and therefore the cost of renting or buying space on the satellite will also not be cheap. Many suppliers have tried to apply some dynamic packages which means reduced service costs are becoming more and more prominent in the market place.

Latency: As distances are very much greater than any services shoreside, it can be an issue, especially for satellites using geostationary orbits. Typical round trip time is 650ms.

Satellite terminals required: With plenty of development going on within the stabilised platform arena, much of the hardware on board needs to be upgraded as the supplier upgrades and improves their services.

Usage needs to be controlled. Try to control usage of the crew, particularly when you have guests on board.
Ensure that the user is fully aware of the performance and all limitations of the services supplied

Need satellite comms, TV, broadband or mobile phone services for your superyacht or crew? Contact Airship today for a free quote or no obligation chat for advice on where you can find the best deals for your requirements.