Technology will open workboats and fishing vessels to high-throughput VSAT, says Martyn Wingrove
The introduction of a new high-throughput and compact VSAT antenna should be a real game-changer for workboat internet connectivity.
This industry has waited for years for the ability to connect seafarers on workboats, tugs and fishing boats to the internet.
For at least five years I have heard satellite communications providers discussing how VSAT connectivity is being adapted for smaller vessels without the space for a 1-m antenna.
We were told owners could find space for a 60-cm diameter antenna for Ku-band and now Ka-band VSAT.
But, that is still a large unit for vessels with little free space above their wheelhouse or on deck.
There were smaller antennas for television reception and local satellite coverage, or global L-band.
However, what was needed was a compact antenna that has the technology to connect to the new generation of high-throughput satellites and is small enough for the workboat and fishing vessel market.
This may have arrived in the shape of KVH’s TracPhone V3-HTS antenna, which is 37 cm in diameter and weighs just 11 kg.
It is engineered to connect with Intelsat’s EpicNG constellation of HTS satellites to deliver bandwidth of 5 Mbps download and 2 Mbps upload to vessels within these spot beams of high intensity Ku-band.
This is part of an industry trend. I predict other antenna manufacturers will follow with their own sub-40 cm Ku-band antennas because the small vessel market is a huge growth sector for satellite communications and one that has not been thoroughly penetrated yet because of hardware limitations.
That will change though and finally the promise of connectivity to all vessels, no matter their size, can become reality.