Four of the top five major cruise companies have signed long-term strategic framework agreements for services delivered over SES Networks’ O3b mPOWER communications system.
Most of the agreements were agreed to 2026 and beyond, the company said.
The services will enable enhanced connectivity on board the operators’ current fleets, as well as for the new ships planned as part of their extensive newbuilding programmes.
These agreements represent a revenue backlog of over €220 mill for SES.
SES’ connectivity will provide a digital immersive experience, enabling more wearable technologies and unlocking more personalised services on board, which reflects a major trend and is now a priority across the cruise industry, the company said, as they prepare to resume sailings.
The satcoms company claimed to be the clear market leader within the cruise connectivity segment, having secured significant market share of the mega ship newbuilding programmes.
For example, since 2019, SES has provided over 13 Gbps – or 2/3rds of the total capacity delivered to the cruise industry.
O3b mPOWER is SES’ global terabit capacity scalable constellation that will operate in a medium earth orbit (MEO) – or 8,000 km away from earth.
Based on the success of the current O3b system, the new system will provide an increase in flexibility and throughput, and will be capable of continuously delivering multiple gigabits per second to a single ship worldwide during seasonal peaks and in areas of high density.
O3b mPOWER’s technical features, which include a ‘follow-the-ship’ capability, allow for maximum efficiency in delivering the highest throughput available today wherever a ship is sailing, the company claimed.
With satellites scheduled to be launched in late 2021 and the service starting in 2022, the high-performance connectivity delivered by O3b mPOWER will help the cruise industry to:
• Leverage a highly-resilient global network to deliver an always-on fibre-like connectivity experience.
• Deliver seamless and secured access to cloud-based platforms and applications for shipboard productivity, passenger communications and entertainment.
• Dynamically optimise the required bandwidth and increased connectivity to any ship wherever it is.
• Deliver fastest internet speeds at sea.
• Achieve cruise liners’ operational efficiencies by enabling real-time condition monitoring and other connected operational technology (OT).
“COVID-19 has been challenging for the cruise industry. At the same time, it has also enabled major players in the industry to re-strategise on their plans for the future and focus on technology-driven innovation and how they can outdo themselves in creating the best holiday experience for passengers, and high-performance connectivity is central to those strategies.
“We are pleased to be co-creating these advanced solutions along with our customers and ensuring we can meet their future needs,” said John-Paul Hemingway, SES Networks CEO (pictured).
Illustrating its cruise ship take up, SES is working with Virgin Voyages to provide the fleet with high-speed, low-latency connectivity. As a result, SES’ Wi-Fi service will be free for every crew member.
“SES Networks offers us unique, reliable capabilities that rival land speed connectivity,” said Andy Schwalb, Virgin Voyages’ Chief Marine & Technology Officer. “This service has played a critical role in the success of our inaugural events last year, while also enabling our crew to remain connected and close to their loved ones during this challenging time.
“We know our sailors will enjoy this service during their voyage as they document their vacation and share with others,” he added.
“It’s a delight to work with partners like Virgin Voyages who are raising the bar in the industry. They’re creating a sea change in the cruise market and high-speed connectivity is critical to realising their sky high ambitions,” said Simon Maher, Vice President Global Sales, SES’ Cruise Maritime Services.
“Through our ultra-fast, low-latency connectivity, we’re able to empower Virgin Voyages’ sailors with Pretty Fly for a WiFi at sea that’s even faster than most home broadband.”