We talk to the former sales director of MTN.

The last decade has seen a huge growth in number of superyachts, many of which are available for charter throughout the Mediterranean and Caribbean cruising seasons. At the same time, connectivity and user expectations from guests and owners’ alike, has grown beyond anything you could have expected 5 years ago, let alone 10.  Added together, all of these seismic shifts in the superyacht industry has pushed the demand for reliable bandwidth to unforeseen and unexpected levels. Therein lies the problem.

Naturally, where there is an increase in demand, economics also dictates that there is an increased source to satisfy it.  Growing numbers of VSAT providers have appeared, delivering promises of great bandwidth rates, availability and support.

Some of these companies have evolved either by spin-offs from larger ones or lured from other industries by the misconception of a yacht owner’s unlimited budgets. In such a dynamic and changing market, there has never been a better time to consider VSAT bandwidth than there is today.

With this edition of Superyacht Technologies putting IPTV under the spotlight, it seems timely to discuss how much bandwidth you actually do need. Of course, a VSAT provider will gladly sell you as much bandwidth as you want to buy and lock you in for a long a period of time as is possible. With the focus more than ever on value and justification of the service offered, it is very much in the interests on the senior crew to dig deeper and carry out the required due diligence on the company and the package being offered. As you know, with all purchases, the devil is in the detail and often the sting in the tail is not what you are being told or sold, it’s what is left out of the conversation.

Without question, every owner seeks value, but that does not mean they want the cheapest. What they want is what adds value to their experience. You, as one of the senior, respected crew members are expected to get this right and when you do, you are seen to be adding real value to you and your role onboard. Get it wrong and often the spotlight will be on the influencer and decision maker (i.e. you), rather than the communications provider.

It seems obvious that if you have a need to feed twelve guests to their ultimate satisfaction that you would never order enough food to satisfy that need twice over. Yet increasingly, this is the case when it comes to your data requirements and how it’s being sold to you by a growing number of providers.

They will view your requirements from point to point, i.e. from land to router.  This provides the provider with the basic information needed to calculate the bandwidth they want to sell you, but not what you require to quantify the needs of the vessel/owner itself. As you know, data is not an easy animal to manage, with the likelihood of latency, buffering, S/N ratios, packet loss issues all having to be contended with once it is transmitted from its point of origin to the owner’s device. An apparent larger requirement for bandwidth can often mask deeper rooted (but sometimes simple) problems onboard.

How do you solve this bandwidth conundrum?

Only an end to end saturation test, conducted in a real-time environment, will give the information you need to make an informed and correct assessment that you can confidently present to the owner. Arranged and carried out in conjunction with your existing provider, you can activate all of the onboard systems required in a real world scenario and monitor and map their performance levels. Once this exercise is completed, you can calculate how “hungry” the yacht’s system is and what actual throughput you can expect.

Whilst this test needs to be arranged and carried out in a very precise manner, the benefits are clear and very often eye-opening.  The results you are presented with often allows you to identify and remove bottlenecks in the transmission path, that when rectified, transform your actual bandwidth requirements.

Airtime is an expensive commodity, by carrying out saturation and performance testing you are able to match your data requirements exactly with the solutions offered by the best providers, creating significant, long-term cost savings for your yacht and its owner.

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