Top 5 Considerations When Selecting a Maritime SATCOM Solution

Commercial vessels need broadband connectivity at sea for operational efficiency and crew welfare.
Commercial vessels need broadband connectivity at sea for operational efficiency and crew welfare.

With the crucial role that broadband connectivity now plays on commercial vessels, the need to carefully choose the right SATCOM solution has never been greater. Last week, KVH shared its expertise during the first segment of its three-part “SATCOM 101 Webinar Series.” (The remaining two segments are scheduled for Dec. 4 and Jan. 8; see button below to register.)

The popular segment covered five key points for choosing a maritime SATCOM solution:

  1. Estimate Your Bandwidth Needs: Determining a vessel’s data requirements is challenging because many commercial operations are just now seeing a rapid increase in their reliance on broadband. From experience, KVH knows that typical business use on vessels is about 10-15 MB per day (300-450 MB/month) and that unmanaged access can lead to 85% of data being used for crew entertainment. In estimating your needs, look beyond replacing current capabilities and consider such benefits of broadband connectivity as improved voyage planning to reduce bunker fuel cost, electronic delivery of charts, and crew welfare and e-training, among other needs.
  2. Choose the Satellite Service: Whether you want to rely on L-band, C-band, Ku-band, Ka-band, MSS, VSAT, or hybrid solutions, the decision has everything to do with where your vessels travel, what type of antenna hardware you want onboard, and how reliable both the satellite network and the communications system is. Advanced technology, such as the ArcLight spread spectrum approach used by KVH, enables fast data and crystal clear voice to be delivered via extremely compact onboard terminals, a breakthrough service known as mini-VSAT Broadband.
  3. Look at Lifetime Costs: To weigh the lifetime costs of a SATCOM system, you need to look not only at antenna hardware acquisition, installation, and activation, but also at the ongoing airtime costs (whether fixed rate or per megabyte, for example), and the professional services that will be needed to integrate and configure the system.
  4. Plan Your Onboard Network Management:  Beyond bandwidth requirements, you need to determine the scope of IT network design, for example, how much of the bandwidth will go toward operational requirements vs crew welfare, how to manage the broadband access onboard, how to ensure network security, and how to optimize the functionality of a vessel as a remote office of the commercial operation. A network management system, such as CommBox, provides integrated management and is a built-in hardware feature of KVH’s TracPhone V7-IP and TracPhone V11 satellite communications systems.
  5. Check the Support System: If you need to troubleshoot anything with your maritime SATCOM solution, you’ll want to know whether there is a 24/7 support center, whether the center has IT and SATCOM experts available, and exactly who to call for what issue you are having. With KVH’s end-to-end solution, commercial vessels know they only have one call to make to get an issue resolved, unlike other solutions where a variety of vendors are involved in making up the SATCOM solution.

The next segment of KVH’s “SATCOM 101 Webinar Series” takes place on Tuesday, Dec. 4. Entitled “Maritime SATCOM Benefits – The Enterprise Ripple Effect,” the segment covers operational benefits provided by broadband connectivity – from IT security and regulatory compliance to employee recruiting and retention.


NOTE: Once you register, you will also be able to access the archive copy of segment 1.



About Jill Connors 94 Articles
In orbit as Media Relations Manager for KVH Industries, Inc.