The world of maritime communications has been shaken up over the last six months with the arrival of Elon Musk’s Starlink LEO service for the industry offered by SpaceX, which has received rave reviews from users offering much higher speed connectivity at lower rates than services provided by higher orbit GEO satellites.
OneWeb has been building a LEO constellation which is now complete and fully operational with 634 satellites in orbit and is now rolling out its maritime connectivity service following successful trials with distribution partners.
“Today, OneWeb’s complete satellite constellation is successfully deployed, enabling us to now launch our guaranteed connectivity services to the maritime industry,” said Carole Plessy, VP Europe and Maritime at OneWeb.
The company’s maritime connectivity service will offer what it describes enterprise grade flexible connectivity packages of 100mbps plus. OneWeb will offer guaranteed service levels defined by straightforward CIR (Committed Information Rate) and/or MIR (Maximum Information Rate) packages.
The launch comes with a “try before you buy” option for customers of its maritime service.
The first of OneWeb’s maritime terminals has been installed on the research vessel Polarstern in partnership with German shipping company Reederei F. Laeisz and Speedcast.
The deployment is part of a hybrid connectivity package and Speedcast is also providing additional LEO-based and L-band services as part of a fully managed solution.
“We’re excited to partner with OneWeb on the first live deployment of its LEO maritime connectivity network for our customer, supporting the research efforts of AWI and international scientists aboard the RV Polarstern,” said Andre Eerland, Vice President, Commercial Maritime at Speedcast. “This project represents an important step forward in a changing industry landscape, where customers now have more options than ever to ensure reliable and seamless connectivity while operating in the most remote places on earth.”
OneWeb claims its LEO maritime connectivity service will offer “high-speed, low-latency, globally consistent experience for customers – even in the most remote sea lanes and maritime communities”.
While the launch of the LEO services for maritime have certainly made waves in the industry there have been concerns over dropouts and connectivity levels in very remote areas. At least in the interim industry players Seatrade Maritime News has spoken with see a hybrid option of LEO and existing VSAT services to provide consistent connectivity, as well as managed services.
OneWeb said it would have the final ground stations completed and operational requirements in place ensuring it remained on track to deliver full global maritime services by year end.