How to stay connected to the internet at sea?

Many superyachts are on the move in search of the world’s most beautiful cruising grounds. But if the internet and TV service drops along the way, those on board may be feeling more remote than they’d prefer. Being able to tap into a flawless internet connection is something we expect to do anywhere in the world, so why not on board a superyacht?

As one of the world leaders in satellite communications, global provider Intellian has helped many superyachts stay consistently connected. Here, the firm’s EMEA Sales Director, Matthew Humphreys, shares the key steps that every superyacht owner should take during their journey towards finding the best service at sea.

1. Have the right plan

Travelling around the world and staying connected while doing so is easy with the right setup. The first step is to choose a satellite internet and TV plan that covers the areas where you plan to cruise, including any prior and subsequent passages. As most networks have regional, global and seasonal plans, there are plenty of options to help a superyacht receive the correct coverage and bandwidth capacity. For those wanting TV services, an international coverage plan should do the trick.

2. Get the right antenna

Often referred to as VSAT (very small aperture terminal), a superyacht’s antenna and its compatibility is another essential consideration. As not every antenna can connect to all networks, products such as the Intellian NX Series are not tied to any network in particular and can therefore work everywhere in the world. The NX Series also offers multi-connectivity solutions to make it easy to convert between Ka and Ku-band networks to suit any yacht and its cruising itinerary.

TV antennas, however, work differently. The LNB (low noise block) fitted to a TV antenna dictates which satellite services you can use. Many antennas in Europe are sold with a Universal Quad LNB optimised for the region, but those wanting to roam further afield will have to simply change to a Worldview LNB. An antenna already equipped with a Worldview LNB (Intellian’s t-Series) will automatically receive SD or HD programming from any Ku-band satellite TV service around the globe. To watch television in the Americas as well as Europe, an Intellian s-Series antenna is recommended, as these already have the functionality required to mirror a VSAT antenna.

3. Have a backup plan

A backup system ensures that a superyacht can roam with uninterrupted connectivity thanks to its ability to receive all available signals through the yacht’s superstructure. To do this, Intellian’s NX Series antenna works by supporting dual configurations that are built into the below deck unit (BDU). This means that when one antenna is shadowed, the system will automatically switch to the other with no disruption to the service.

For an additional layer of protection against network failure or service degradation from atmospheric conditions such as heavy rain, a tried-and-tested solution is to have an additional L-band antenna in the form of an Intellian C700 or FB250. Despite its speed being lower than a Ku or Ka-band, this extra tool provides always-on security for the yacht and guarantees global coverage. Plus, it works as an ideal and resilient backup system.

4. Combine with terrestrial 

WiFi and cellular connections are great, but the connection may falter if the network becomes busy with users. For this reason, some yachts choose to install a system for easy switching between these different terrestrial connections and VSAT. This not only allows superyacht captains to use the Satcom service for secure and essential communications whenever needed, but saves the shore-based services for low priority use, e.g for personal devices. By including VSAT in your plan, owners, crew and guests can always be online with a guaranteed level of service.

5. Choose the right configuration

With antennas measuring between 45cm to 2.4 metres, owners of sailing yachts are often reluctant to fit anything that could potentially affect the yacht’s aesthetics and performance; particularly as the recommended high-speed networks work best with dual antennas to avoid signal blockage by the mast or carbon sails. However, a smaller but slower L-band antenna is highly resilient to all weather conditions and is compatible with all networks, configurations and global safety services.

One sailing yacht, the Andre Hoek-designed 54-metre Marie, was due to receive a dual NX antenna arrangement for high-speed signals. However, the additional weight of the antenna would be detrimental to the yacht’s racing ability and so, a single Intellian v100NX with a 25W BUC (for more upload bandwidth) was installed to help overcome any signal attenuation from the sails and mast. The new system was fitted on the mast to reduce deck clutter and has proven to be a great success in all regions, including the Caribbean and the Pacific, where the service reception has been flawless.

Intellian have trusted resell partners all over the world. With their support, they can ensure you’re on the most suitable plan with the best Intellian solution onboard. Click here to find out more.

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