Delivering a connected cruise experience

SES Networks is helping cruise lines to provide high-performance connectivity, says Simon Maher
Delivering a connected cruise experience
SES Networks’ 03b mPOWER system can deliver high-speed streaming for guests and crew, says Simon Maher

By Simon Maher |

Cruise operators want to deliver enhanced and personalised experiences to their guests, and they recognise that high-quality connectivity at sea plays an integral role in taking those experiences to a new level. However, to be able to support passengers as they consume an exponentially increasing volume of data, operators need better global connectivity options.

SES offers the only service at sea that is capable of addressing this escalating demand for bandwidth via the broadest fleet of satellite assets in the industry, including our low-latency medium earth orbit (MEO) constellation and wide-beam and high-throughput satellites in geostationary orbit (GEO). When this multi-layered connectivity is combined with our advanced ground system and broad portfolio of value-added services – such as analytics, network optimisation and voice services for passengers and crew – the SES Signature Cruise solution ensures that every guest receives world-class connectivity.

Our network delivers the low-latency broadband capabilities needed to deliver smart ship technology, while providing high-speed wi-fi to cruise passengers and crew so they can upload content to social media sites and chat with friends and family back home. The network also powers the mobile apps, web portals and kiosks that allow guests to personalise their cruise experience onboard their ships. Similarly, it’s used in waterproof radio-frequency identification wristbands that help passengers navigate around the ships, make purchases and open their cabin doors, as well as in a 24/7 video gaming suite that lets guests compete with Xbox Live gamers worldwide.

SES Signature Cruise solutions are already being used to power offerings such as Carnival’s MedallionNet wi-fi service and Royal Caribbean International’s Voom internet service. Our solutions will also underpin the onboard artificial intelligence and communications technology on MSC Cruises’ new vessels. In addition, we’re combining our network with the Ocean Guest Experience Cloud Connected platform to provide Carnival Corporation brand Princess Cruises with high-performance wi-fi and connectivity services for its globally deployed Princess MedallionClass ships.

Carnival Corporation’s Global Experience and Innovation unit has promoted SES to Premier Innovation Partner status until the end of 2023 and SES is now a fully integrated development partner of the unit, helping it to design, create and deliver game-changing connected guest experience innovations, develop technical platforms, and enable intelligence and hybrid cloud and edge computing. As part of this partnership, the Princess MedallionClass ships will be the first in the cruise industry to access SES’s O3b mPOWER communications system.

O3b mPOWER, the next generation of our MEO service, is a terabit-scale network that represents a paradigm shift for satellite-based communications. The step change in throughput provided by O3b mPOWER ensures cruise operators can activate capacity as and when it’s needed, giving them the flexibility to increase bandwidth on an ad-hoc basis, rather than overprovisioning based on peak demand. Since the O3b mPOWER system is designed to scale up in both capacity and coverage, operators will be able to keep pace with their passengers’ evolving bandwidth needs, while also ensuring they can capitalise on smart ship technology.

The system will deliver an exceptional streaming internet experience for passengers and crew, while providing the industry’s highest forward and return link capacity for shore-to-ship and ship-to-shore communications that support user-generated content, video calling and all aspects of the vessel’s operations. The O3b mPOWER constellation is further supported by our software-defined global network infrastructure, enabling a seamless and simple guest experience. Maritime connectivity services can be aggregated in areas of highest demand, such as locations with a high concentration of ships, and then dynamically distributed to follow each vessel. This ensures that each vessel has the bandwidth required to support a premium guest experience and application and cloud services – whenever and wherever it’s needed. This provides cruise operators with the efficiency and flexibility needed to raise the bar for the onboard customer experience.

SES has the only proven non-geostationary satellite system in the industry and is building on its long and impressive history of empowering cruise lines to deliver exceptional customer experiences to continue supporting their needs as connectivity demands evolve.

Simon Maher is vice president of global sales for cruise maritime services at SES Networks

This article was first published in the Spring/Summer 2020 issue of Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.

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