Business Intelligence BI Tip of the Day-Medium Earth Orbit Satellites-MEO-Provide Broadband Capacity to Cruise Passenger, Shipping & Offshore Sectors

Colleen J. Dolezsar

Colleen J. Dolezsar,
Director of Sales & Business Development,
Microsoft Business Intelligence & Analytic

Artificial intelligence (AI) is the new buzz word among HR professionals. There is an increased awareness on AI and usage of Chatbots among several HR professionals.

"SES launches satellites to boost cruise ship connectivity."

"Arianespace launched four O3b satellites on a Soyuz rocket on 9 March from French Guiana.”.

SES has expanded its constellation of medium Earth orbit (MEO) satellites with the launch of four more on a Soyuz rocket. These satellites join 12 existing MEO satellites in the O3b constellation to provide additional broadband capacity to the passenger shipping and offshore sectors.

The satellites will provide coverage between the tropics in Ka-band, similar to the existing satellites, from an orbit that is 8,000 km closer than SES’s own geostationary satellites. They were built by Thales Alenia Space and launched by Arianespace from the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana on 9 March.

SES chief executive designate Steve Collar said these four extra satellites will be commissioned ready to begin operation in May this year. He said SES invested in the new satellites because “demand for high-performance bandwidth and networks continues to grow”.

“As O3b is the only successful non-geostationary broadband system, we need these new satellites to fulfill demand across a wide range of verticals and applications,” he explained. This includes helping cruise ship operators provide greater levels of internet connectivity to passengers and offshore drilling rigs to deliver more VSAT capacity to workers and clients.

Carnival uses O3b satellites to provide broadband to passengers on ships such as Regal Princess. Royal Caribbean Cruises also utilises SES Networks MEO maritime service across its fleet for the RCCL Voom service.

SES chief technology officer Martin Halliwell said another batch of four O3b satellties are due to be launched on a Soyuz rocket in 2019. The first 12 O3b satellites were launched by three Soyuz launch vehicles in 2013 and 2014.

SES is also investing in its geostationary constellation and is due to launch what it describes as the most powerful commercial communications satellite, SES-12, in Q2 2018."

SES is also investing in its geostationary constellation and is due to launch what it describes as the most powerful commercial communications satellite, SES-12, in Q2 2018."


"When Quantum of the Seas launched in November 2014, about 5,000 people on board simultaneously used its Internet service.

That might be remarkable simply because most cruise ships can’t hold that many people – guests and crew.

Most remarkable, though, is that 5,000 people on a cruise ship went online at the same time and did it without a hitch.

They were served by a satellite internet provider, which is enough the startle anyone who has ever suffered through slowdowns due to busy online traffic or heavy weather, or any of the other vexing vagaries that beset conventional satellite providers and their customers.

O3b Networks, the satellite Internet provider that serves RCL’s Quantum of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas, Allure of the Seas and the newly launched Anthem of the Seas – the four biggest cruise ships on the planet – is anything but conventional. (Note: RCL has launched more new ships since this article with the same or better connectivity capabilities, i.e. Harmony of the Seas and Symphony of the Seas.)

Instead of using a single high-orbit satellite like other wireless internet providers, O3b maintains a constellation of 12 communications satellites that orbit the earth at comparatively low altitudes over the Equator.

That geographic belt, says Bill Martin, chief information officer for Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., is where RCL does most of its cruising.

So it took a gamble several years ago by working with O3b after RCL officials were convinced that this satellite company could solve the all-too-common frustrations of onboard internet users who wanted or needed to stay connected. The gamble paid off.

O3b connectivity rivals that of lightning-fast terrestrial Internet service through fiber optic cables, the current gold standard for going online at-home or in the office to stream movies, send and receive large electronic files or any other tasks that require moving lots of data between two or more points.

O3b, Martin says, “is like fiber from the sky.”

The most common pricing practice in the cruise industry is to charge so much – usually per minute – for onboard internet service that guests will be deterred from using it and crowding capacity.

“O3b allows us to flip that business model,” Martin explains. “We want as many people as possible to use it” at the current $10 a day per device for a week long package.

O3b’s medium-orbit satellite string can easily handle 14 terabytes per month, the equivalent of sending or receiving two million digital photographs every week.

Those who measure, and are limited to, five or 10 gigabytes of data per month under a standard satellite Internet plan can instantly understand and appreciate what that means, especially if they know that just one terabyte is equal to 1,024 gigabytes.

Better still, O3b claims network latency four times lower than others. Unlike capacity, latency refers to the time it takes for data to travel from sender to recipient and back again. High latency is responsible for the delays and time lags that sometimes interrupt a video stream, for example. O3b (“Other 3 billion”) started as a way to bring affordable, reliable Internet connectivity to people in emerging markets. By recognizing the blazing fast internet connection it could also offer guests at sea, RCL became its biggest customer."

"What’s SES doing with its $1.6-billion satellite investment war chest?"

"SES has set aside 1.47 billion euros ($1.6 billion) for spending on new satellites between now and 2020. A global Ka-band broadband constellation in geostationary orbit had been viewed as a likely investment. But SES, since Aug. 1 the sole owner of O3b's medium-Earth-orbit network, now says it will look equally at MEO and GEO orbits for its future HTS, or high-throughput satellites." Credit: SES

PARIS – "Satellite fleet operator SES on July 29 said the cash it has set aside for new satellites may be spent as much on additional satellites for its just-acquired O3b Networks medium-Earth-orbit constellation as on a global Ka-band mobile broadband constellation in geostationary orbit to rival competitors ViaSat and Inmarsat.

Luxembourg-based SES had long been expected to use its substantial cash war chest – 1.47 billion euros ($1.6 billion) in yet-uncommitted satellite spending between now and 2020 – for a global geostationary-orbit broadband constellation.

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