Speedcast, a communications and IT services provider, has partnered with Hurtigruten Expeditions to complete fleetwide implementation of SpaceX’s Starlink Low Earth Orbit (LEO) broadband connectivity. Hurtigruten Expeditions, a major expedition cruise line, and its long-time connectivity partner, Speedcast, began initial testing and integration of Starlink’s LEO service onboard the fleet in March. Roll-out of the high-speed, low-latency connectivity will be finished by end of October, making the cruise line one of the first in the industry to complete a fleetwide installation.
Starlink’s broadband connectivity is being integrated via Speedcast’s advanced network management technologies, blending the LEO coverage with multiple transmission paths delivered to the fleet as part of a complete managed service. This includes traditional geostationary (GEO) orbit coverage, and 4G/5G for Hurtigruten Expeditions’ high-demand applications.
“With vessels operating in some of the most remote and spectacular areas of the world, Hurtigruten Expeditions is an ideal partner for introducing groundbreaking 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.”
For Hurtigruten Expeditions, Speedcast’s implementation of Starlink brings faster, more reliable internet to its guests and crew.
“As the world leader in exploration travel, it’s only fitting that we bring the world’s most innovative technologies onboard our ships to further enhance the experience and day-to-day lives for our guests, crew, partners and the communities we visit,” said Hurtigruten Expeditions CEO, Asta Lassesen.
Earlier this month, Speedcast announced an agreement with SpaceX’s Starlink to offer the broadband service to enterprise and maritime customers. Speedcast will integrate Starlink connectivity into the multi-path, multi-orbit service that it offers, leveraging its SIGMA network platform and SD-WAN solutions, which make it possible to prioritize traffic, offer guaranteed service levels, and fully manage the customer experience.
Speedcast and Hurtigruten Expeditions’ multi-months trials, integrating the new technology into the managed connectivity service onboard a Hurtigruten Expeditions vessel, showcased how Speedcast’s network design enabled seamless failover from Starlink’s LEO connectivity to Speedcast’s global maritime network.
Three of Hurtigruten Expeditions’ vessels will operate in Antarctica this season, introducing Starlink to Antarctic waters. The new LEO service is 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 Lassesen.
Hurtigruten Expeditions offers free internet connectivity not only for guests, but also for all crew members.
“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,” said Lassesen.