Cruise & Ferry Review - Spring/Summer 2022

1 3 4 V IEWPOINT Meeting bandwidth demands at sea By Simon Maher, SES As the amount of data consumed onboard cruise ships increases dramatically, cruise lines require a connectivity solution that can continue to meet growing demand With Covid-19 vaccination rates increasing and therapeutics continuing to grow and improve, the cruise industry is expecting to see low prevalence of the virus in the summer and autumn and therefore predicts occupancy rates will begin to get back to pre-Covid levels. In preparation, cruise lines are continuing to make changes, adapt and push forward to ensure guests have a great cruise experience. As cruise activities begin to return to normal, one thing is clear; digital behaviour has changed forever, and the amount of data consumed at sea is about to grow dramatically. Even with recent occupancy in the 20 per cent to 70 per cent range, bandwidth usage is way up, with demand per person skyrocketing. Digital consumption is increasing exponentially as the number of smart devices connected to a ship’s network can now exceed 10,000 devices, up from 3,000 devices just a few years ago. Passengers and crew are engaging more frequently with real-time video chat and meeting sites. Social media usage has also increased significantly as passengers regularly stream short videos and share their on-ship experiences by uploading content onto sites. And data-intensive apps and wearables employing radio frequency identification technology are now becoming the norm, requiring around-the-clock connectivity to the ship’s wi-fi network. Additionally, much of a ship’s operations infrastructure now relies on data residing in the cloud. Weather updates, engine and fuel consumption optimisation, waste water and heating, ventilation and air conditioning management all demand robust connectivity as many of these systems are now monitored, controlled and updated remotely. All of this is driving bandwidth demand, and cruise operators need the right level of connectivity to support the delivery of huge volumes of data and real-time services. SES’s latest service offering, Cruise mPOWERED, delivers the ubiquitous, lowest latency high-speed connectivity service cruise ships need to meet these growing bandwidth demands. This