- Delivering exceptional VSAT performance, particularly in the Pacific Ocean region
- Identifying an antenna solution which wouldn’t affect the superyacht’s stability
- Providing seamless, high-quality connectivity whilst maintaining the yacht’s sleek appearance
- Carrying out installation and commissioning under lockdown conditions
The superyacht Marie offers a combination of performance and comfort which presents a paradox when providing satellite communications. Today, owners, guests and crew demand connectivity of a similar standard to that available onshore. Business applications and entertainment require significant, stable bandwidth, but on a superyacht the impact of the installation on aesthetics and sailing performance must be taken into account.
For a sailing yacht, mounting communications antennas on the mast reduces deck clutter, but their weight and windage have an unwelcome impact on stability. Specifying a system to meet these conflicting requirements is difficult, and Marie’s existing VSAT installation was not delivering satisfactory internet performance, especially in challenging areas such as the Pacific Ocean.
- Intellian v100NX 25W BUC
- AptusNX - remote management and monitoring
- Future-proof global network offering
Marie’s captain, Chad Thieken, approached Ben Hextall, founder of maritime connectivity specialists OceanWeb for help. Hextall suggested a solution with two 1m antennas on the mizzen mast, but after discussion with the owner, the feedback was that this would be too much for a racing yacht, so a powerful single antenna solution was agreed upon.
“At that point, it was a no-brainer,” Hextall says. “I said they would need one of Intellian’s new v100NX antennas, with the 25W BUC. I explained that the high-power BUC would overcome signal attenuation by the sails and blockage by the mast, improve performance in adverse weather conditions and help acquire a satellite connection quicker.”
Designed to work with existing and future MEO and LEO networks and easily convertible between Ku and Ka bands, NX Series products are ready for foreseeable developments in satellite communications, providing maximum flexibility and a safe investment. Meanwhile, Intellian’s market-leading RF performance means that customers are getting the best from their VSAT connections. The addition of user-friendly local and remote diagnostics and simple installation, combined with global support, makes the NX Series an attractive option for superyachts worldwide.
OceanWeb is based on the Isle of Man. Lockdown restrictions prevented its team from travelling to Auckland for the installation on board Marie, so as much of the initial setup as possible was carried out in the UK prior to shipping. Tom Poole, the project’s senior engineer, designed the network and preconfigured the Kerio – an advanced router which combines additional features such as firewall and antivirus. “We tried to make the installation as plug and play as possible,” says Hextall. “We knew all the parameters such as the VSAT IP address range and the 4G settings, so we were able to set up the network and test it in the office before shipping.”
On arrival, the v100NX was painted to match Marie’s color scheme and locally based engineers carried out the physical commissioning. Intellian’s AptusNX software, together with OceanWeb’s dedicated laptop for remote configuration, enabled final setup to be carried out from the UK. “We used AptusNX to set up the antennas and configure the blocking zones,” says Poole. “Once the antenna is commissioned, we use our own system for day-to-day checks, but AptusNX provides a powerful tool for remote diagnostics if there are any issues, giving us a detailed view of the antenna, right down to component level.”
- Future-proof technology will work with forthcoming MEO and LEO networks
- Market-leading RF performance
- Easy installation
- User-friendly local and remote diagnostics
- Global support network
The support offered by Intellian through several highly complex projects has assured its position as a favored and trusted supplier for OceanWeb. “Our experience with Intellian has been awesome,” says Hextall, “and whatever complex questions I ask I get comprehensive, timely answers back. Partnering with Intellian is a breath of fresh air compared with some other companies.”
Superyachts are as reliant on communications for day-to-day operation as they are for entertaining those on board. “Captains will spend most of the day doing emails to check that the marina is ready, the guests are ready, hotels, provisioning etc,” explains Hextall. “The core of the bandwidth is used for essential business – these yachts are multi-million-pound businesses, so reliable connectivity is vital.” So vital, in fact, that customers are often willing to modify their passage planning to avoid areas of poor coverage and maintain lower-cost, higher-speed VSAT connectivity.
Perhaps surprisingly, VSAT also has a place for dockside communications: it offers seamless connectivity for the customer, providing a more consistent user experience than shore-based services. “All cellular providers will offer a connection, sometimes up to 20Mbps, but none will guarantee quality of service,” says Hextall. “So we configure the usage through the Kerio. We might use VSAT for a vital software update, but stream a movie over 4G.”
The future-proof, multi-orbit design of Intellian’s NX antennas is an asset for system integrators such as OceanWeb. With the promise of truly global coverage and lower bandwidth costs, Hextall is keen to explore what NGSO networks can offer. “We hope that LEO networks will allow us to deliver twice the bandwidth to customers requiring large amounts of data for approximately the same cost.”
Keeping customers connected is the number one priority. “For us it’s all about redundancy and reliability,” concludes Hextall. “Delivering a workable bandwidth to a yacht, anywhere in the world and at all times, means good service and great equipment. Intellian makes a tough, stabilized antenna which seems to get better with every iteration. If it’s stuck up a mast in a Force 9 gale, I know it will still perform.”
Solution Partner: OceanWeb