MOL to trial Starlink on cruise ships/ferries

2023-08-15T18:12:15+00:00 August 15th, 2023|Technology|

Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL) and KDDI Corp have announced that from this month, the two companies will conduct trials with Starlink’s satellite broadband.

The trials will be conducted on board an MOL Group-operated cruise ship, ferries, and a coastal ro-ro vessel and are aimed at enhancing the communication environment at sea.

Starlink enables communications with a maximum download speed of 220 Mbps during the voyage, and contributes to high-speed communications and safe navigation for crew members and passengers.

The trials will evaluate the system from both technical and economic standpoints, and MOL Group plans to introduce the system from autumn 2023 onwards, depending on the situation and each ship’s schedule.

MOL explained that at sea, signals from far-off base stations are weak, making it difficult to use ordinary high-speed cell phone communications.

Conventionally, satellite communication services using geostationary orbiting satellites have been used, but the increasing volume of information and data presents challenges for real-time ship-to-shore communications.

For deepsea shipping companies, improving the quality of ship safety management is an important initiative to ensure safe navigation.

Improving the on board communication environment is critical to more effectively sharing systems and data related to ship operations with land-based staff in real time.

Many crew members, especially younger ones, have expressed a need for the same high-speed internet access that is available on land, so the working environment must be improved by eliminating the onshore/offshore information gap, MOL said.

In addition, cruise ship and ferry passengers are increasingly requesting high-speed internet access on board to enrich their travel experiences.

In these trials, four ships – the cruise ship ’Nippon Maru’ operated by MOL Cruises’, the ferry ’Sunflower Sapporo’ and ro-ro vessel ’Musashi Maru’ operated by MOL Ferry and the ferry ’Sunflower Satsuma’ operated by Ferry Sunflower will be fitted with Starlink Business communication service for maritime use.

The initial trials will be conducted with crew members and employees, and based on the results, the companies will discuss expanding the trials to the passengers on board.

Starlink Business services will be provided by KDDI.

MOL Group has already conducted trials on deepsea ships and confirmed an improvement in communication speed of up to 50 times, compared to existing services.