A better, faster way to get connectivity at sea

Viasat and Cobham partner in maritime internet offering


Viasat and Cobham are introducing a maritime internet solution that company leaders say is dramatically enhancing the at-sea experience. They also announced four maritime internet plans designed specifically for the leisure market.

Cobham, which produces satellite and radio communications terminals, is pairing its SAILOR maritime antennas with Viasat’s satellite and on-board network technology. The ViaSat-2 satellite provides internet service across Mexico and the Caribbean, and on maritime routes across the Atlantic Ocean to Europe, as well as North America and some of northern South America.

“We’re on a number of vessels now and the most consistent feedback we get is that it’s a game changer,” said Bill Sullivan, business development specialist for Viasat Global Mobility Solutions. Sullivan was speaking during a recent webinar on the maritime offering. “That’s been our intent from the get-go here at Viasat – to create game-changing technology. We’re taking that and creating a new experience for maritime customers.”

The new plans have removed speed limits and data limits, and are offered at a fixed monthly price to provide the best possible internet experience while cruising. It’s not unusual to have peak speeds above 100 Mbps with the service, with typical speeds ranging from 25 to 50 Mbps.

“People can get an at-home experience on their vessels at sea with a really simple installation and an affordable, predictable way to pay for it,” Sullivan said. “It’s not a metered service so it’s basically unlimited. If you’re sticking with your plan, you should never hit your premium priority threshold.”

Even when data usage for a user is above the premium priority threshold, the user will be able to continue to use their service without any deliberate degradation imposed – their traffic will simply be at standard priority.

Sullivan cited the experiences of a subscriber with a 178-foot Starfire yacht who’s had the maritime service for the last 18 months — operating primarily in the Caribbean and Mediterranean.

“It’s completely changed the experience that the crew and the guests have on the boat,” Sullivan said. “They needed a high-speed service, the ability to stream entertainment. With the Cobham equipment and Viasat’s bandwidth, they’ve got that.”

State-of-the-art system

Cobham’s Director of Maritime Broadband Jens Ewerling said the marriage of technologies between the two companies is ideal for maritime. The SAILOR Ka-band antennas have undergone nine years of testing and are made to withstand harsh conditions.

“It’s a high-quality product that suits the Viasat service perfectly,” he said. “It’s probably the easiest Ka-band system to operate … a state-of-the-art system which currently has really no competition.

“The trend in the yachting community is that everybody wants to bring their own device and not necessarily use satellite TV-offered channels. So we’re moving into streaming. With our terminals and the Viasat service, this can easily be enabled.”

Viasat is offering four plans. Two correspond with the SAILOR 600 antenna, designed for mid-sized yachts. The other two are offered with the SAILOR 900 antenna and are ideal for super yachts.

Viasat is also offering up to six quiet months with every 12-month subscription. Those are months in which a vessel could suspend the service if the boat is not in use. The quiet months can be used concurrently or singly on an as-needed basis.

The maritime offering builds on Viasat’s successes in the residential, business and commercial aviation markets.

“We’ve made a huge difference in the aviation market; we’ve really been disruptive, especially in commercial aviation,” Sullivan said. “That’s what we’re looking to do here.”

Viasat is providing the service across several company-owned and managed satellites and will expand it further with ViaSat-3 – an upcoming constellation of three satellites that will dramatically increase bandwidth.

To watch the webinar, register for free here.

Michelle Munoz-Talcott is Marketing Director, Global Mobile Solutions at Viasat. She leads marketing and strategy in the Global Mobile Solutions segment, which includes commercial and business aviation as well as maritime. She has over 20 years of marketing experience in the technology and wireless industries including Verizon, Vodafone and Nokia (formally Alcatel-Lucent). Her roles have included working in all facets of marketing and product management as well as international posts in Europe.