SpaceX’s Starlink internet service has rapidly increased its share of the maritime connectivity market, particularly in the cruise sector, where a blend of high speed and low latency is important for customers. Carnival is bringing Starlink to all its fleets, and Holland America will offer the service on Koningsdam. The cruise ship registered promising reviews after it used the system on the Inside Passage voyage from Seattle to Alaska, which, despite its narrow channels, worked well throughout the trip and rivalled home internet speeds of up to 110Mbps, according to a cruise blogger. Starlink’s software’s low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites, with 350-mile altitudes, have a latency of as low as 30-40 milliseconds, which is a similar performance level to cable internet.
Carnival started implementing the Starlink service in December and intends to offer it to other brands within its ecosystem. All the same, the firm is committed to keeping a “multi-provider” portfolio of satellite communication services and redirecting traffic to different services as required. Early adopters include Hurtigruten, NCL, Royal Caribbean and Ango-Eastern, as well as Silversea and Windstar, while commercial maritime users include Columbia Shipmanagement and Eastern Pacific.
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