Connecting the Seas with LEO Satellite Internet 

Government agencies, humanitarian organizations, and commercial vessels and ships have struggled to connect to the internet at sea for decades. However, dealing with low bandwidth and unreliable connections, those aboard marine vessels cannot access the same service available on land.  

Until recently, maritime operations have relied on geostationary (GEO) satellites to connect to the internet. GEO satellites have a circular orbit at a constant altitude of 35,786 km above the equator. They match the earth’s rotation of 24 hours, so they remain above the same point on earth. However, these satellites have higher latency than other satellite technology now available on the market. In addition, due to the earth’s curvature, they cannot provide complete coverage at the poles. Typically, coverage is not available plus or minus 70 degrees of latitude from the equator, which is a concern with government operations and tourism on the rise in the Arctic.  

Let’s look at a few examples illustrating the need for reliable, low-latency internet at sea and how low-earth orbit (LEO) satellites can connect everyone on land and at sea.  

Why is Internet Connectivity at Sea Important?

Safety and Security 

Government operations, shipping patrols, search and rescue missions, and humanitarian relief organizations that operate at sea need to ensure the safety and security of their vessels. Maritime awareness involves gathering multiple data points from various platforms and sensors, often in areas with poor connectivity. This data needs to be transmitted on land where it can be analyzed. Not only can high latency or a poor signal pose a significant security risk, but it also hinders the development of the Ocean of Things, which could streamline the maritime awareness data collection process.  

Productivity and Morale

Remote work has become seamless on land. Staff in different geographic areas can share and collaborate on cloud-based documents, send messages, and participate in video calls in real-time. However, the lack of connectivity at sea hinders productivity; as staff at sea as staff can’t use the same tools as their coworkers on land.   

Lack of high-speed connectivity lowers productivity, can dimmish crews’ morale, and make recruiting new staff difficult in an industry plagued by a labour shortage. Aboard vessels for months at a time, maritime workers now expect to have access to the services available on land, like the ability to stream HD video, use social media, make video calls to friends and family and even access telemedicine services.  

Guest Experience 

As the cruise industry struggles to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, high-speed internet is necessary to attract customers. Thousands of guests need to be able to post photos of their trip, make video calls respond to urgent work issues, and make changes to their travel plans. In addition, travellers need to know their connection will be seamless no matter where they are on the ship. With reliable access to the internet, the cruise ship industry can leverage the Internet of Things (IoT) and AI technology to improve the guest experience.    

Solving the Seas’ Connectivity Problem with LEO Internet 

Low-earth orbit satellites from manufacturers like OneWeb have the power to solve the maritime connectivity problem. LEO satellites orbit the earth in less than two hours. They typically orbit between 500 to 1600 km above the surface, delivering higher speeds than GEO technology.  

OneWeb’s solutions can:

  • Provide full coverage even in the world’s most remote arctic regions 
  • Enables real-time maritime awareness, including positioning of other vessels and aircraft and provides threat detection  
  • Support automatic identification system (AIS) tracking 
  • Allow surface vessels and aircraft to navigate across oceans, even in global navigation satellite system (GNSS) denied environments. 
  • Deliver a remote work environment to enable real-time collaboration and video communication with offices on land 
  • Provide ample bandwidth for thousands of crew members and guests to stream 4k videos, play games online, post to social media, and participate in video calls, all in real-time. 

ROCK Networks and OneWeb Advantage

ROCK Networks offers a variety of connectivity products to meet users’ demands with fixed and mobile solutions. In addition, ROCK Networks can guide you through the process of adopting OneWeb’s technology. We are here to assist with system training, integration, and support. Download our brochure to learn more.  


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