SES, Starlink claim cruise industry’s first integrated MEO-LEO service

Satellite provider cashes in on strong momentum of the maritime connectivity business, particularly in the cruise segment, claiming first end-to-end connectivity service delivering bandwidth capacity of up to 3 Gbps per ship

Satellite provider SES has announced that for the first time ever, cruise operators can now depend on a single managed service to reap the benefits of low-latency, high-throughput satellite connectivity.

Investment in the cruise experience has reached new heights since the pandemic. Cruise operators have been pushing technological and innovative boundaries, many of which are reliant on always-on, high-performance connectivity. This need is also said to be compounded by the growing expectations of cruise passengers and stakeholders alike to address the sector’s carbon emissions and comply with new maritime regulations, including CII and EEXI.

SES said the capability will be enabled by integrating its medium earth orbit (MEO) services with Starlink’s low-earth orbit (LEO) offering to create SES Cruise mPowered + Starlink.  

Available from the fourth quarter of 2023, the service will aim to fulfil the growing demands of cruise lines to deliver a superior guest experience, optimise smart ship operations, and attract and retain the best crew.

The service – integrated, sold and delivered by SES – will combine both MEO and LEO orbits, expanding existing capacity and reach to provide high-speed and secure connectivity 24/7.

Claimed to deliver fully managed, end-to-end, best-in-industry bandwidth and low-latency performance, SES is confident the service will set an entirely new standard for ship connectivity worldwide, and minimise upfront capital costs and ongoing operational expenditure.

Offerings will be available in either Premium tier (3Gbps/ship) – for the leading ships wishing to deliver the highest throughput in the industry, or Pro tier (1.5Gbps/ship) – for operators wishing to manage user experience by matching the right application to the right orbit.

Read more about maritime connectivity

As a managed service provider that pioneered multi-orbit geostationary (GEO) and MEO-enabled networks and delivered connectivity services directly to cruise operators for the past 10 years, SES said its partnership with SpaceX’s Starlink to add LEO-based service into its cruise offering demonstrates a joint commitment to delivering the best customer experience to cruise operators and guests.

“We strive to provide a world-class connectivity experience for our cruise customers and deliver the same level of service they would enjoy on land,” said SES chief strategy officer John-Paul Hemingway.

“By being the only one in the cruise industry to expand our unique multi-orbit GEO and MEO network to utilise LEO, we believe it opens new opportunities for us to meet the needs of cruise guests and crew members, and the operational requirements of cruise operators to accelerate their digital transformations – wherever they may be.”

Chad Gibbs, SpaceX’s vice-president of Starlink business operations, added: “We are excited to collaborate with SES on a joint solution that combines the reach and capacity of both satellite constellations to offer a solution unlike any other in the market.”

Read more on Telecoms networks and broadband communications

Data Center
Data Management