Marine Electronics | St. Maarten

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VSAT and Other SatCom

Broadband Satellite Internet for Every Need and Budget

When it comes to broadband satellite communications, no one solution is best for everyone. There are many tradeoffs involved, including antenna size and cost, geographic coverage, connection speed, reliability and of course budget. As an independent service provider with a large partner network, we can offer the right solution for your needs and budget, without being limited to a particular brand or provider.

Traditional 1m+ Ku-Band VSAT

Sailor 900 VSAT Antenna

The workhorse of the industry, this is the most common way to get high speed Internet onboard large yachts. We have access to a large network for airtime providers from the largest global players to lower cost, regional providers. There is a vast selection of airtime options available, from low-cost-no-guarantee shared bandwidth plans, through various minimum/maximum options to fully-dedicated bandwidth. Larger providers will have multiple satellite covering in given area, so there is always a satellite in view and no blockage zones. Some plans come with shorter time commitments (or no commitment at all), some allow for layup periods, some allow you to bump up speed for a month (or even a week) to cover a particular charter need.

Sub-1m Regional VSAT

For vessels looking for the convenience of a fixed-cost solution but without the room for a conventional VSAT antenna, smaller antennas (as small as 24″/60cm) can be used in areas where satellite signal is strong enough for that. Many of the popular yachting destinations fall in that category, and even Atlantic crossing are now within coverage. Satellite selection and airtime plan options will also be more limited.

KVH TracPhone V-IP Series Family: V3, V7, V11

KVH Mini-VSAT

KVH’s proprietary Mini-VSAT Broadband system spans most of the globe with a unified, seamless network. Its spread spectrum network allows for smaller antenna sizes, giving broadband access to smaller vessels where traditional VSAT is not an option.

KVH has been moving away from fixed cost “all you can eat” plans towards a “base plus usage” model, similar to cellphone plans. While fixed-cost plans are still available, they are limited by a “fair use” policy and services such as streaming and VoIP are specifically prohibited and blocked.

Where the Mini-VSAT service excels is pay-per-MB metered plans. With higher speeds and significantly lower airtime cost than equivalent FleetBroadband terminals, it’s the best-value metered satellite airtime available anywhere.

Outside of the Mini-VSAT coverage area, an Iridium Pilot backup system can be added for continuous (albeit slower-speed) coverage.

Inmarsat FleetBroadband

Despite having significantly more expensive airtime than competing technologies, FleetBroadband still has some unique features:

  • Small antennas and below-deck units, lower priced equipment, simple installation, DC-powered
  • Near global coverage
  • Only small antenna solutiuon for broadband Internet in the South Pacific and high latitudes

If you are embarking on a long cruise and will be making extensive use of your FleetBroadband equipment, Inmarsat has some high-volume plans that can make your airtime a little less costly to use.

Inmarsat Global Xpress

Heavily promoted as the next generation in broadband satellite Internet with speeds of up to 50Mbps and antennas as small as 60cm, the Global Express platform is not yet operational, with its second and third satellite launches delayed due to rocket failures. The 2014 rollout has now been pushed back and new availability dates are yet to be announced.