People expect to have the same level of connectivity onboard their yachts as they do on land and most people now bring at least two mobile devices onboard. It's therefore no surprise to find yourself needing a bandwidth upgrade or trying to figure out how to improve the performance and reliability of your existing yacht satellite broadband.
Fortunately, there are ways to do this. As you prepare for your next charter or voyage, use these simple guidelines to help boost your yacht's bandwidth to ensure the quality web browsing and content streaming experience your owners and guests expect.
1. Determine the specific needs of the owner and guests
If your current broadband plan isn’t providing the reliable connectivity performance you want, it could be because you don’t have an accurate understanding of how it’s being used. The first step is to figure out what apps and usage are absolutely essential for your owner and guests onboard.
Survey the owner and guests weeks before your voyage to know what apps and streaming services they want to use. Will they constantly be on Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat? Will they use professional video conferencing or need VPN access? How often will they turn to bandwidth-heavy Facetime, Skype or other video-chat apps? Or are they yachting to disconnect and will only check email periodically?
The more specific information you can get about the connectivity needs and bandwidth usage of onboard guests and crew, the better able you will be to choose a plan that ensures reliable performance.
2. Consider crew limits and separate local area networks (LAN)
If you currently have a data cap on your service plan, it may be limiting the yacht satellite broadband performance - and leading to extra costs. If so, consider implementing a crew service level agreement or fair usage policy that restricts their bandwidth usage. Although it's important to consider the satellite connectivity expectations of your crew members, sometimes it's also necessary to limit their access to it. Exercising more control over bandwidth allocation can help ensure it is being distributed appropriately.
It's highly possible that the needs of crew and guests vary - which makes trying to manage them all on a single network difficult and, ultimately, ineffective. To fix this, consider intuitive network-management apps that enable captains and ETOs to configure separate Wi-Fi or Ethernet networks, or LANs, for each user group to make it easier to allocate and prioritize bandwidth based on users’ specific needs.
Another option is to block specific apps for certain LAN groups, such as social media for crew members, or limit the number of devices they are able to use at one time.
3. Squeeze the most out of your bandwidth
When you're looking for ways to improve the performance and reliability of your yacht satellite broadband, it is important that you look at the hardware and equipment being used. Utilizing the latest remote communication hardware and technologies will enhance connectivity and optimize bandwidth usage.
For example, check to make sure that your antenna is compatible with the type of network you are using and that it is capable of handling the high speeds and coverage in your region. It's also important to make sure that this equipment is properly installed and positioned on the yacht. If the antenna is placed in a blockage zone it is going to be extremely difficult for it to access a satellite that is not in its line of sight, resulting in a poor broadband connection.
Another option is to bypass your VSAT network all together. Products such as MTN’s SpeedNet, can help users browse the web at dramatically faster speeds while freeing up valuable bandwidth for video streaming, social media and other bandwidth-hungry apps. With its advanced technologies running in the background of mobile and desktop browsers, SpeedNet gives users the feeling of being on high-speed fiber while at sea.
"Even though latency is inherent in satellite communications, we no longer have to accept it as a fact of life," said Ole Sivertsen, MTN Vice President, Yacht Services. "By introducing some innovative technologies into our services, we are now able to give our clients the same kind of connected experience they get at home."
4. Schedule temporary bandwidth upgrades on demand
If you only charter during a few months out of the year, you certainly don't need to get an annual, high-bandwidth contract. Instead, choose a service plan that allows you to upgrade your bandwidth during times of the year that are the busiest and most demanding. Look into plans that allow you to increase bandwidth per charter or plans that offer a high-speed season option during times of peak bandwidth demands.
5. Choose a flexible plan - and service provider
Yacht communication needs vary based on the vessel, as well as the number and habits of its guests. Ideally, you’ll want a flexible plan that requires as little commitment as possible so you can tailor it to the needs of your guests and crew on demand. When it comes to communications and content solutions, there is no one-size-fits-all. This is why it is important to choose a provider that has the expertise and ability to offer specific solutions that meet your individual yacht satellite broadband needs.
So the next time you are scheduling a charter or the yacht owner will be on board, use these simple guidelines to help boost your current yacht bandwidth while giving your owners and guests the web browsing and content streaming experience they expect.
You can meet MTN at the Monaco Yacht Show from September 28 – October 1 at the MTN PoP Lounge – Red Restaurant.
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