Marine Satellite Internet
If you’re heading out on a long sea voyage or staying close to shore and looking for an internet solution, options include VSAT for large vessels, Iridium OpenPort and brand new Certus services as well as FleetBroadband and Fleet One services from Inmarsat. The latter, the incumbent in the field, started as the INternational MARitime SATellite organization as a NATO mandate in the late 1970s as a safety service to seafarers. Inmarsat marine terminals range in price from US$2,500 to well over $10,000 and data speeds range from 100 Kbps on the Fleet One service up to 500 Kbps with FleetBroadband.
The Iridium OpenPort service offers global coverage, including polar regions, and the service tops out at 128 Kbps. The terminal, called the Iridium Pilot, costs about US$5,000. The Iridium Certus service offers maritime speeds of up to 700 Kbps via two available terminals, the Cobham SAILOR 4300 and Thales VesseLink, starting at US$6500. The price of the Intellian C700 is yet to be released.
VSAT antennas range in diameter from 60 centimeters to 2.4 meters and are most often found on cargo ships, cruise ships, ferries and workboats. Marine VSAT antenna prices start at US$20,000 for the 60cm model to over US$100,000 for the large models. Internet service is offered via a global patchwork of VSAT network operators and available speeds are up to 20 Mbps.
For those boat enthusiasts who don’t venture too far, a signal booster may suffice, but for those heading out to the horizon, satellite is your only solution for Internet. All marine antennas offer easy deployment, stabilized connectivity and reliability, however, some larger VSAT terminals will require professional installation.