Through a project supported by the European Space Agency, the UK-based company Wired Ocean Ltd can now provide enhanced Internet access for ships at sea at a much lower cost than was previously possible.
Although satellite links at sea are quite common, the speed of data transmission for most users is very low, from 600 bps to 64 kbps, with around 10 kbps being a typical speed. This, combined with usage costs of around € 20 per megabyte, has created an environment in which many ship owners cannot reliably access the Internet, or use it regularly.
The Wired Ocean approach uses a hybrid solution, combining Ku-band satellites for the downlink and narrow L-band satellites for the return channel. While at sea, the downlink (forward) channel offers a speed of 512 kbps and the uplink (return) channel speed is 9.6 kbps for Globalstar and up to 64 kbps for Inmarsat. This configuration promises to be more economical than purely narrowband satellite systems, with cost savings of as much as 70% over current systems.
Dominique Detain | alfa
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