Serving the maritime VSAT market has always been expensive and challenging.  Locked in by inflexible long-term contracts with satellite operators and facing huge CAPEX and operating costs, maritime VSAT integrators are struggling to survive in a market rife with over-capacity and cutthroat pricing.

Here, duplication of assets and personnel costs is squeezing margins, and there is talk of integrator consolidation and vertical integration with satellite operators. In the midst of this economic chaos, K4 Mobility, an innovative, new entrepreneurial company, is seizing on an opportunity to disrupt the traditional maritime VSAT Value Chain.

Started in August of 2018 by former Gogo CEO, Michael Small, and CTO, Anand Chari, the company has raised $5 Million and now has 20 employees. In less than one year, K4 has developed the first all-digital, multi-network platform and is already deploying it in the maritime VSAT market, starting with yachts.

Leveraging the recent availability of operator managed services platforms that sell megabits and adding SD-WAN-like intelligence, K4 Mobility has created a service devoid of the capital and operating costs of teleport and NOC infrastructure. In doing so, it has also avoided the long-term transponder leases characteristic of the existing business model.

While existing integrators have considered buying megabits via the managed service model, for the most part, they resisted and continue to purchase megahertz.  This approach enabled them to secure more megabits per MHz and thereby increase margins and also customize their service offerings. Of course, the downside of this model is the cost of CAPEXfor teleport and NOC infrastructure, as well as the ongoing expense of manpower needed to manage the infrastructure. TheK4 model, in comparison, relies on the purchase of megabits of capacity on the spot market, and deploying capacity when and where needed, allowing for services to be delivered at the lowest possible price-assuming, of course, that HTS prices continue their downward spiral.

Using a mobile application, the K4 Mobility platform users adjust service parameters to their liking, and proprietary SD-WAN-like algorithms automatically select the best available network. Through proprietary optimization software, not only can the network intelligently switch between different providers, but it also provides owners with secure, fine-grained control over all data usage on their vessel. For the first time, a complete picture of data usage, cost, and performance can be seen from a smartphone-all without the user picking up the phone to call the service provider. In addition, real-time and proactive notifications will alert users when new devices have connected to the network or are using too much data. Further enhancing the offering is a secure messaging platform that enables IoT applications and person to person communications. The initial target for the service is the yacht industry – vessels 80 feet in length and larger. The platform is ready, and the company already has a few customers in service, both on VSAT and LTE.

K4 Mobility is an internet service provider for maritime. It is a secure digital platform that seamlessly selects the best network enhancing global connectivity.

K4’s digital platform uses software algorithms to select the best networks, among the satellites and terrestrial options available today and in the future.

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