Cruising company Crystal Cruises has accelerated its internet satellite connection to help it retain customers who increasingly demand 24-hour access to the internet.
The company is using F5's BIG-IP 4500 web accelerator to help provide maximum connectivity and expects the project to pay for itself in a month. The system enables more bandwidth for the same price.
Bjorn Andersson, manager of shipboard and network operations for Crystal Cruises said, "Some guests simply will not book a luxury cruise unless they can access the internet 24 hours a day, 365 days a year."
Andersson said IT departments of large multinationals had contacted him to check access and compatibility when their executives were booked on cruises. "If we could not guarantee 100% connectivity, they would have to cancel their booking," he said.
On board, Crystal Cruises uses Dell desktops with Windows Vista. These are connected via radio to its mobile WiFi/phone system, which is provided by SeaMobile. Its satellite service provider is MTN. Crystal currently pays for a guaranteed 512kb/s service.
The time taken for messages to bounce off a satellite was always a problem, said Andersson, and the company previously had to buy more bandwidth to address this. But rather than do this, Crystal installed the F5's BIG-IP 4500 web accelerator. It also started managing user profiles, and routed traffic automatically.
He said the return on investment is expected to be quick. "128k of bandwidth over our satellite feed costs £12,000 per month per ship. If F5 delivers only what they guaranteed, the project will pay for itself in a month." So far, it is delivering four times the traffic.