ONBOARD CONNECTIVITY: AN EVOLVING LANDSCAPE
Examining new developments in marine technology
Spending time at sea no longer means total withdrawal from the online world. In fact, streaming content, browsing the net and posting on social media are now considered basic requirements when cruising.
Fast and reliable onboard technology has therefore become an indispensable yachting necessity. However, cost effective, high performance connectivity can often be a challenge for consumers looking for scalable and seamless global connections.
Outdated and ineffective tech is increasingly being replaced by progressive systems throughout the marine marketplace, with a number of companies offering dynamic and functional maritime communications packages. Whether for business, entertainment or security, fast and efficient onboard connectivity are high on the agenda for captains in today’s fast-paced and demanding digital world.
The delivery of satellite broadband is relatively simple, with an antenna situated in the sat-dome transmitting and subsequently receiving data to and from a sky satellite. As reliability counts for so much at sea, using VSAT, although more expensive than 4G or port Wi-Fi, is often preferred overall as a trusted facility.
Regular use of onboard satellite internet by guests and crew using VSAT can however result in patchy service and soaring costs. Recent developments in onboard communications have resulted in new solutions that claim to mitigate these issues.
One of the newest providers in the onboard communications arena, is Excelerate Marine, who state that they offer a comprehensive and high performance end-to-end service alongside integrated technology. Both inventors and developers, they provide the added benefit of operating their own secure communications network to deliver personalized solutions. Managing and distributing satellite broadband and 4G networks to yachts, their 17 years in the dedicated communications industry supplying mission critical connectivity for the emergency services is a solid testament to their brand.
With a clear objective of disrupting the marine tech market, Excelerate Marine supply their satellite broadband to yachts at around a third of typical rates offered by other providers. According to Founder and Chairman, David Savage, their revolutionary Yacht Connectivity Manager platform is an easily operated communications interface for captains and owners which displays and operates ‘at a glance’ functionality which is designed to provide the most efficient and cost-effective solution for each yacht’s specific requirements.
They have also recently launched a new product - an uncapped 4G mobile SIM which is priced very competitively and comes with full Mediterranean roaming migration, negating the need for fiddly regional SIM swapping, whilst providing excellent coverage. Additionally, these services operate via a remote access portal enabling them to be managed and adjusted as needed.
Taking pride in his hands-on approach, David Savage said, “Excelerate manage the network, therefore it is essential that we always take ownership of our services to ensure they are fit for purpose – failure simply isn’t an option”.
As a unique way of showcasing their products, the company offer live demonstrations of their services on their fully-equipped yacht, EXCELERATE Z (pictured above) - displaying their most up to date systems, specifically installed for customers to experience firsthand.
60m Baglietto motor yacht, VICKY, available for charter through Ocean Independence, uses Excelerate’s satellite communications all year round.
Captain Mike White commented, “I have had the pleasure of working with David and his team at Excelerate for three years. The satellite network they offer has supplied seamless connectivity along with great flexibility ensuring that guests are satisfied with the speeds and cost at all times.” They plan to upgrade their Excelerate system on board VICKY at the end of this year.
So, what does the future hold for onboard communications?
Simon Hill, Technical Director for Excelerate Technology who is responsible for Research & Development states “The demands for data and connectivity are increasing across all market sectors and we are working towards seamless interconnectivity across communications platforms - in a very short space of time people will simply just be connected through a mix of satellite, cellular and wireless using one seamless platform.
One area which we are seeing as a growing trend and demand from our yacht customers is our communications management suite. A product that we have been delivering to our emergency responders for some time, the platform enables guaranteed voice coverage and communication across different types of devices and networks. It connects people via UHF, VHF, cellular and landlines into instant and seamless talk groups.”
Innovation appears to remain at the heart of marine tech, with the industry moving towards ever greater connectivity. A new era of collaboration and knowledge in smart technology is on the horizon and will likely mean yachts consistently become more intelligent and, as a result, autonomous. In turn the benefits of technology mixed with AI will surely offer further efficiency for the yachting ecosystem in terms of safety, connectivity and cost-savings.
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