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Marine Electronics & Communications

Marine Electronics & Communications

Shipping turns to smaller VSAT antennas

Wed 19 Apr 2017 by Martyn Wingrove

Shipping turns to smaller VSAT antennas

Smaller VSAT antennas are coming for shipping. They bring the benefits of being light-weight and are easier to install than the current range of VSAT hardware, which involves 1m antennas and crane installations.

Both Cobham Satcom and Intellian are launching 60cm diameter antennas for Ku-band VSAT that they claim can be carried on to ships by engineers and installed on smaller deck areas. These antennas will use the new range of high throughput satellites that operators such as Intelsat and SES are deploying. The spot beam technology enables the deployment of 60cm antennas for more global operations, instead of the larger 1m versions.

But as I was writing this comment, I was reminded by KVH chief executive Martin Kits van Heyningen that 60cm Ku-band antennas are not a new phenomenon. He explained that KVH launched the first 60cm maritime VSAT antenna back in 2007. KVH has the TracPhone V7 and V11 range for connection through its own VSAT coverage.

Inmarsat would also remind me that 60cm antennas are already available for ship operators that want to use Ka-band in its Fleet Xpress hybrid VSAT service. And that the 60cm Ku-band antennas are based on the Fleet Xpress range.

But the development of Ku-band 60cm antennas will increase choice for shipowners and lower the costs of installation, while delivering the power of high throughput satellites. This represents a sweet-spot for VSAT that shipping can capture to gain the connectivity benefits for crew and improved operations.


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