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Last updated: 13/11/2019
In the modern world superyachts and yachts expect to be connected all the time; with smartphones, Wi-Fi and all manner of portable communications devices. In the past, communications solutions for superyachts and yachts have fallen a long way short of the kind of service expected on land.
Mark Wilson from Navicomm Marine Systems commented:
“We live in a connected world where clients are surrounded by high speed internet, from the office to their homes, fibre optic broadband networks have created a high speed internet connection and now with the evolution of 4G services similar speeds are capable on their mobile devices. This widespread availability of broadband services has now become second nature to most people, and that expectation of high speed services follows onto a yacht.”
Now, according to NSSLGlobal Ltd, solutions are available that close the gap, making the ‘Office Anywhere’ a reality, “On-board satellite based connections are now capable of providing true broadband services to support teleconferencing, data downloading, emails, web surfing, social networking and media streaming for all on-board users.”
Effective communications are also vital when maintaining yacht crew welfare. It provides crew with the ability to keep in touch with friends and family at home like never before, preventing that sense of isolation, which can lower crew morale and with it the efficiency of the yacht.
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.
Key factors when choosing a provider should include
NSSLGlobal Ltd provided which key factors need to be thought about:
- Capacity – The connection capacity should accommodate the needs of the various user profiles on board including owners, passengers and crew.
- Coverage – The coverage required should be determined by where the vessel intends to travel in the short, medium and long term – different types of service will have different coverage footprints.
- Support – The amount of support provided with the service will determine how easily the equipment is installed and how quickly any problems that arise are resolved.
- Equipment – The size and situation of communications equipment is something to contemplate if space is a factor. When and where your equipment will be installed is also something to take into consideration.
Mark Wilson from Navicomm Marine Systems followed up by providing this expert advice;
“The modern vessel has access to a wide range of satellite communications systems, which can be overwhelming for the end user to determine which is the most suitable for their requirements and therefore, it is important to engage a specialist provider early on to help determine what the usage requirements would be and propose a range of solutions to meet those requirements.”
Whilst in port it is possible to obtain high speed services through port based WiFi networks or 4G, as soon as you are out of range you are solely reliant on satellite services and this is where the problem lies, as currently superyachts do not have the same bandwidth available over satellite.
Mark further added, “With the proliferation of internet connected devices we have become oblivious to the actual amount of data we consume on a daily basis making it difficult for the average user to determine their actual bandwidth requirements. Once you have a system on board, it is important to remember that it is not necessarily an unlimited source of internet and it should be used accordingly depending on your contracted service. Educating crew and users on the management of bandwidth and limitations can be a challenge, but is critical to ensure that the expectations are met.
Key satellite communication tips which need to be considered
Navicomm Marine Systems provided important questions/issues which also need to be thought about;
- Find a communications provider who can help determine your usage and budgetary requirements and propose a suite of solutions to meet those requirements.
- Try to establish the volume of users, the type of data they expect to use on an average basis.
- Determine what services are required, VoIP, VPN, 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 may be more regionally focussed.
- Ensure that the user is fully aware of the performance and all limitations of the services supplied.
- Ensure you have a facility to track and inform you of your data consumption.
- Organise your on-board network so some basic form of data traffic management can be achieved to control data usage when on satellite services.
- 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 control usage of the crew, particularly when you have guests on board.
- Try to have one person on board who understands the system and is responsible for the control of bandwidth usage.