Virgin Voyages is investing in high-speed satellite communications for its new cruise vessels for passengers and seafarer connectivity
It has contracted SES Networks to provide onboard wifi and low-latency connectivity for its latest ships Scarlet Lady and Valiant Lady.
These newbuilds will have SES’ Signature cruise solution providing passengers with all the bandwidth they require for communications, internet, social media and content, using their own mobile devices on board the vessels. Seafarers will be able to stream media, connect to the internet and use voice services for free over this wifi.
“SES Networks offers us reliable capabilities that rival land speed connectivity,” said Virgin Voyages chief marine and technology officer Andy Schwalb.
“This service has played a critical role in the success of our inaugural events last year, while also enabling our crew to remain connected and close to their loved ones during this challenging time.”
The Signature cruise solution is an end-to-end service, combining SES’s low-latency O3b satellite constellation and geostationary fleet with onboard wifi networks. This will include SES’s new O3b mPower medium Earth orbit (MEO) constellation when it becomes operational in 2022.
O3b mPower will increase flexibility and broadband throughput to cruise ships. It will deliver multiple gigabits per second (Gbps) to any Virgin Voyage ship sailing within satellite coverage, even during seasonal peaks and in areas of high density.
SES Networks vice president for global sales of cruise maritime services Simon Maher said high-speed connectivity is critical to Virgin Voyages “realising their sky high ambitions. Through our ultra-fast, low-latency connectivity, we are able to empower Virgin Voyages’ sailors with wifi at sea that is even faster than most home broadband,” he said.
O3b mPower is a second generation of MEO satellites that SES intends to commission in the next two years. It will augment the existing MEO coverage from SES’s first fleet of O3b satellites, which operate 8,000 km away from Earth.
SES claims to have the biggest share of cruise ship connectivity. Dating back to 2019, SES has provided over 13 Gbps, representing two-thirds of the total capacity delivered to the cruise industry.
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