Maritime satellite operators KVH and NSSLGlobal are offering SpaceX’s Starlink service in combination with other managed connectivity offerings, in response to criticisms that the LEO service lacks managed service offerings and consistent coverage. KVH’s TracNet system now integrates Starlink, VSAT, Ku-band, 5G, 4G LTE and WLAN, connecting to the service that offers the best performance automatically reinstate connections during blackouts or data overuse. Meanwhile, NSSLGlobal’s FUSIONIPLEO integrates VSAT with Starlink’s LEO connectivity, providing both high-availability mission-critical communications and high-throughput, low-latency connections designed for crew welfare.
Both KVH and NSSLGlobal have noted that while there is interest in the Starlink service from customers, they are unwilling to switch to it 100%, preferring hybrid systems while there is no consensus on reliability, the lack of enhanced cybersecurity and potential disruption from users consuming high levels of data. KVH’s Chris Watson highlighted the benefits of the company’s hybrid approach, which offers more services to customers. Four out of every five customers who sign up to TracNet also sign up to a KVH VSAT subscription. Meanwhile, NSSLGlobal’s Group CEO Sally-Anne Ray noted a desire to promote crew welfare through connectivity, to prevent mental health issues and ensure optimum training and crew retention.