Case Study

Intellian Partners with Speedcast and Eutelsat OneWeb to Empower Polar Connectivity for Research Vessel

20 May 2024
Research Vessel - OW70M

research vessel - leo oneweb speedcast intellian

  • Partner: Reederei F. Laeisz G.m.b.H
  • Customer: Speedcast & Eutelsat OneWeb
  • Market Sector: Maritime Research
  • Required Features: Polar Connectivity 


  • Improve polar connectivity for the Research Vessel Polarstern
  • Facilitate better research operations, including live conferences from polar regions

  • Provide improved connectivity for crew and scientists onboard

  • Ensure unbroken connectivity in extremely low temperatures and high latitudes

Commissioned in 1982, the RV Polarstern is operated by Reederei F. Laeisz and managed by the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI). As a flagship of Germany’s polar research, the vessel is an integral part of international Arctic and Antarctic Research and has been in operation for more than 40 years in both polar regions, operating in temperatures as low as -40°C and under extreme ice and ocean conditions. It hosts more than 40 crew and 50 scientists onboard.

To upgrade their existing connectivity solutions, Reederei F. Laeisz looked for a solution which met high bandwidth requirements despite regularly operating at high latitudes. As GEO and MEO services are unable to provide high latitude coverage in the extreme poles, a LEO solution was required.

In addition to the high latitude operations, the vessel also required a connectivity solution to withstand extremely low temperatures without disruption to operations.

The bandwidth requirement of the vessel is driven by the 90+ individuals onboard working on the research teams or as crew. Improved connectivity was required to improve research operations, for example, to obtain high-resolution radar images for ice navigation in near real-time, and to allow the team to collaborate remotely and share their findings. For the crew, the improved connectivity solution was required for safety purposes, to ensure the vessel was operating efficiently and for any required troubleshooting. As all individuals onboard are away from home for up to 75 days at a time, enhanced connectivity solutions were needed to improve their quality of life at sea, ensuring the ability to contact friends and family.


  • Intellian’s OW70M dual parabolic antenna system with an additional heating module
  • Speedcast’s delivery of Eutelsat OneWeb’s maritime low earth orbit (LEO) connectivity service, enabled via Speedcast’s SIGMA network management platform

To solve their connectivity challenges, Reederei F. Laeisz sought the advice of Speedcast, their connectivity service provider, which leverages Intellian as a strategic technology partner. The project involved deploying Intellian’s OW70M dual parabolic antenna, purpose-built for Eutelsat OneWeb’s LEO network. Engineered to excel even in the most adverse sea and weather conditions, this terminal ensures exceptional performance and meets high data throughput demands.

Eutelsat OneWeb’s LEO network provides seamless connectivity across diverse maritime routes, including the Northern Polar region. With the OW70M antenna, customers can leverage Eutelsat OneWeb’s bandwidth plans, featuring the highest Committed Information Rates and Maximum Information Rates. Speedcast integrated the LEO-based services as part of a multipath solution via the service provider’s SIGMA network management platform for complete traffic prioritization.

Following the vessel upgrade, the researchers and crew would have access to fiber-like high speed and low latency even when working in the most remote regions of the Arctic and Antarctic, utilizing a 75 Mbps download and 15 Mbps upload speed, and consuming 2-3 TB of data per month

Because of the latest heating device technology, the OW70M is ideal for extremely low temperatures as experienced onboard the RV Polarstern. To ensure the best performance in some of the most extreme environments, the OW70M was fitted with an additional heating module to ensure that connectivity remains uninterrupted, even when the temperature hits -40°C.


  • Improved research operations allowing for remote conferences, results sharing and collaboration between teams
  • Media crews are able to share real time data, photo and video content while onboard
  • Better working conditions for onboard teams, with access to various communication channels for family and friends, and connected entertainment solutions
  • Reliable and cost-effective connectivity for the vessel, leading to a greater overall impact

Since the OW70M terminal and Speedcast’s full connectivity solution has been installed, the research teams have been able to effectively share their findings and collaborate, even in the most remote parts of the Arctic. This has included video conferences and live streaming to build the vessel’s ‘telepresence’ from scientific stations. More consistent connectivity has also facilitated the live streaming of remotely operated vehicles (ROV) operations under sea ice, close to the North Pole. It was possible to interact with the researchers onboard and on the ice. Improved connectivity on the ship means that more specialists are able to work on any given project. Because remote working is now possible, some
individuals do not need to be onboard for several months for one day of research. In addition, it is now possible to support field missions with immediate (technical) advice and help from shore.

The upgrade has also improved visibility for this polar research, an important factor in raising awareness and informing stakeholders about the effects of climate change. During a North Pole expedition, a film crew joined to document the research carried out onboard Polarstern. Following filming, the crew was able to send high-resolution content back to shore for editing, thus reducing the overall production time. High- resolution photography from onboard and daily blogs were made available, allowing a participation of the public in polar research.

After the installation of the OW70M and full connectivity solution by Speedcast, the per-person usage restriction for research teams and crew was removed for the stress test. As well as the daily operational requirements, connectivity is used onboard to improve employee wellbeing through video calling and messaging services with loved ones. Entertainment options have also improved. This all helps to reduce isolation and improve mental health for those at sea for long periods.

For AWI, the project has offered connectivity solutions with a wide range of business benefits, improving research capabilities, onboard operations and crew welfare. Access to the Speedcast network and Eutelsat OneWeb LEO service gives the vessel high- speed, consistent connectivity, which was previously impossible.

Antje Boetius, the director of AWI and experienced expedition leader said: “We are delighted with the results of this latest connectivity and telepresence project. We can integrate remote sensing data, high performance computing, and international expert teams in our research at sea, no matter where we are in the Arctic or Antarctic. This is a boost to our research and it also helps with personal connectivity to home for those working onboard. The impact of the project has thus been transformational. We are particularly excited to begin live streaming our polar projects, thereby involving more people in the polar experience and knowledge.”

Solution Partner: EOW and Speedcast

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