Satcom Global has begun a Ku-band service, NSSLGlobal has acquired media content specialist SnapTV and SpeedCast has introduced Sigma Net for vessel communications and network management
Offshore support vessel operators will have more choice for satellite communications and crew entertainment systems in 2017. More service providers are introducing very small aperture terminal (VSAT) technology and on-demand video content.
Satcom Global was the latest to introduce a global VSAT service for offshore vessel operators. It launched the Aura service in November 2016 to offer flexible global communications using Ku-band, with L-Band back-up options from Inmarsat and Iridium. Satcom Global chief executive Ian Robinson said the service is needed to enable vessel operators to meet rising demand for bandwidth for high speed streaming of data. It has been successfully tested with VSAT hardware on a variety of vessels.
He added, “Building and managing our own global Ku-band network gives us the flexibility and capacity to deliver a customisable solution, which will continually evolve. We decided to commit to Ku-band airtime by working with five satellite operators, including SES, Eutelsat, Intelsat and JSat for the main coverage.” More bands will be deployed on Aura in 2017 and 2018. “We will also have C-band capacity soon and could change VSAT out to Ka-band,” said Mr Robinson. “We will be able to include high throughput VSAT through SES coverage as three satellites are added to the network.”
Aura is scalable and comes with a variety of packages catering for different communications requirements. Satcom Global can increase bandwidth capacity if vessel owners require more real-time data streaming, and hardware can be leased to spread the costs. Vessel operators changing to Aura will need to install Intellian antennas and below-deck units. Mr Robinson said, “We offer 1m, 80cm and 60cm [diameter] antennas with Ku-band coverage that will improve when the high throughput satellites are launched.”
Intellian introduced a new generation of L-band terminals for vessels in November. It began manufacturing the FB250R and FB500R FleetBroadband terminals after gaining final approval from Inmarsat for their use over the Fleet Xpress service. These terminals can also be used with other associated network service devices.
UK-based NSSLGlobal has acquired Norwegian online television specialist SnapTV to launch IP-based entertainment services for offshore vessels and rigs. The companies will collaborate to promote TV and media distribution through NSSLGlobal’s VSAT IP@Sea service. SnapTV provides a range of infotainment software, hardware and services. The infotainment software service uses graphical user interfaces to provide TV, film and radio programmes. This service will be in competition with KVH Industries’ existing IP-MobileCast content delivery and mini-VSAT Broadband services and Inmarsat’s Fleet Media service.
SpeedCast International introduced Sigma Net for vessel communications and network management over satellite constellations in November 2016. Sigma Net is a cloud-based system that provides automated management of multiple wide area network links and satellite communications over VSAT and L-band. It has an integrated voice over IP server that enables digital crew calling services.
SpeedCast explained that Sigma Net provides managed network segmentation between business critical, crew or machine-to-machine networks on vessels. It incorporates firewalls and virtual private networking on the vessel and cyber security for the internet. There is a cloud-based secure portal for linking vessels to IT engineers for network management.
SpeedCast also signed a global framework agreement with Cobham Satcom for offering broadband connectivity to ships. Under this arrangement, Cobham Satcom will supply maritime stabilised antennas for SpeedCast’s Ku-band and Ka-band VSAT services. This will help it offer Ka-band connectivity using Fleet Xpress service with Cobham’s Sailor 60 GX antennas.
Marlink can offer high throughput VSAT using Intelsat’s EpicNG satellites. It has taken Ku-band spot beam capacity on the already operational Intelsat 29e satellite, the already launched Intelsat 33e and Intelsat 35e, which is under construction. In November, it took capacity on the planned Horizons 3e satellite to deliver spot beam coverage over the Asia-Pacific region. These spot beams will overlay the existing widebeam Ku-band coverage.