Hurtigruten Expeditions has agreed a deal with Speedcast to complete a fleetwide implementation of SpaceX’s Starlink low earth orbit (LEO) satcom service aboard its vessels, the companies have announced.
Speedcast, an existing provider of connectivity services to the expedition cruise line, began initial testing and integration of Starlink’s LEO service onboard the Hurtigruten fleet in March. Roll-out of the service is expected to be finished by the end of October, meaning the cruise line will likely be the first in the maritime industry to complete a fleetwide installation.
Starlink connectivity will be integrated with existing onboard systems using Speedcast’s network management technologies, blending the LEO coverage with multiple transmission paths delivered to the fleet as part of a complete managed service, including geostationary (GEO) satcom and 4G/5G.
“With vessels operating in some of the most remote and spectacular areas of the world, Hurtigruten Expeditions is an ideal partner for introducing ground-breaking technology in the cruise industry,” said Joe Spytek, Chief Executive Officer at Speedcast.
“Speedcast’s expertise lies in our ability to combine all available connectivity paths and manage a complete service that offers the highest levels of uptime, availability, and performance. Hurtigruten’s vessels sailing from more traditional GEO coverage areas into lower look-angle locations, such as Antarctica, Alaska, Greenland, and the Chilean fjords, will be bolstered with this new LEO coverage, where available.”
Hurtigruten Expeditions offers free internet connectivity not only for guests, but also for all crew members. Three of its vessels will operate in Antarctica this season and will look to provide an early test for Starlink’s capabilities in Antarctic waters, with the new LEO service slated to add Antarctic maritime coverage in Q4 2022.
“Our partnership with Speedcast and fleetwide introduction of the new service not only puts us ahead of the rest of the cruise industry, it also puts us ahead of the technology. When Starlink introduces maritime coverage in Antarctica and the Arctic, we will be ready,” said Hurtigruten Expeditions CEO, Asta Lassesen.
“The introduction of new technology makes it easier for everyone onboard to remain connected with friends, family and loved ones, no matter where they are. We’re leading by example and challenge all cruise lines to make internet free for crew members.”