It’s Costly to Upgrade a Maritime Network, but Can Service Providers Afford to Put it Off?

By Chris Insall, Senior Principal Product Manager, Maritime Services, Mobility Product Management

The maritime sector – from shipping companies to the offshore segment to cruise ship operators – is undergoing a sea change. Broadband demands are exploding, routes are changing and, in many instances, the current infrastructure does not easily support the advances that will bring the sector greater technical and operational efficiencies.

According to NSR’s Maritime Satcom Markets, 3rd Edition, demand for broadband will lead to the addition of more than 20,000 VSAT units and $2.8 billion in retail revenues over the next 10 years.

The opportunity for communications providers is clear, but it’s likely that current networks – developed via a piecemeal approach over several decades – will need to be upgraded yet again. High throughput satellites (HTS) coming to market will certainly provide the bandwidth that will be needed to meet growing end-user demand. However, HTS is new to the market and, for many, the perceived complexity and cost to migrate to these new services are making them pause.

That said, can maritime network service providers continue with the status quo, apply patches to their existing networks and still meet the emerging and future demands of their end-user? The answer is no. With the industry changing so rapidly, network service providers must take a long-term view, creating a network that can be easily and cost-efficiently adapted to serve the maritime sector for decades to come.

At the same time, satellite operators must also change their approach and simplify both access to satellite communications and user operability. There are clear differences among the various HTS platforms – in terms of capabilities, interoperability, ecosystem partners that will optimize the HTS bandwidth and ease of integration into existing network infrastructure.

Many satellite operators remain rooted in an old purchase model that asks customers to make a long-term commitment to specific beams and coverages, while also requiring additional capex expenditures for proprietary terrestrial infrastructure. Making the wrong choice can mean network operators commit to spending on capacity and infrastructure that doesn’t deliver a solid return on investment.

What is needed today – and in the future – is a solution that eliminates the confusion and guesswork around HTS and delivers a flexible, shared broadband infrastructure that allows maritime service providers to focus on delivering bandwidth where it is needed most around the globe and thereby enables ship operators to take full advantage of the latest onboard applications.

This is IntelsatOne® Flex – a new offering that provides a global managed service that easily scales to meet growing broadband demands; optimizes bandwidth allocations and ensures available and secure delivery of bandwidth where and when it is needed. With IntelsatOne Flex, network service providers and fleet owners can focus on their core business, beyond the limitations of their communications network.

This is the cornerstone to Intelsat’s approach. We work with our customers to discover their needs and concerns and design solutions that address these issues. It’s an approach that has served Intelsat and our customers for decades, and it remains the best way to navigate an ever-changing world.

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