It seems as if everything on a yacht these days is integrated into communication technology in one way or another – from the bridge to guest rooms and down to the engine room itself.
This trend is only going to continue. As the demand for bandwidth increases, so does the toll on the VSAT and communications systems in place.
In answer to these demands, on Tuesday MTN announced the launch of its new “Maestro” solution, billed as a tool capabable of integrating multiple systems into one user interface, improving operational efficiencies and optimizing bandwidth by up to 40 percent.
“The idea is that, from a single interface, you can manage your entire system,” said Derik Wagner, the managing director of MTN’s Yacht Business Unit. “We’re going to continue to develop it with that in mind – to make it easier and more intuitive.”
MTN has been working in maritime communication for over 30 years, and with the yacht market specifically for a decade. MTN Maestro was developed based on feedback from clients requesting greater efficiencies.
A Cisco Systems study found that global mobile data traffic grew 81 percent in 2013. It also predicts continued growth in traffic and demand, with the number of mobile-connected devices surpassing the world population by the end of this year.
This has largely been due to a huge increase in video-streaming. “The other thing is that people have more than one device now,” said Wagner. “You’ve got your phone – and you may have three phones. Then you have your tablet and you still have a PC or laptop.”
Due to this sudden increase, MTN has tried to figure out a way to be able to “do more with the bandwidth that we’re providing,” said Wagner. “We’ve optimized bandwidth up to 40 percent, and that was on a 78m boat.” He said the number will vary, depending on the boat and the usage, though MTN believes that to be the median.
Given that VSAT can still be very costly, the idea is to offer a way to increase the efficiency of use. So, instead of buying more bandwidth, do more with the bandwidth you already have.
Beyond satellites, MTN Maestro can draw from other internet sources, like local WiFi networks and 4G, said Wagner. This helps boost bandwidth as much as is available in a given area. Users can also establish up to five different Local Area Networks (LANs) onboard, each with different usage allocations.
“This platform is totally configurable,” said Wagner. “You can actually bring in up to 4,000 different LAN connections if you wanted and set up the priorities as you wish.”
It also offers a full management suite from one interface. Whether that system is managed by MTN – which offers 24/7 customer support – or managed locally onboard by a member of the crew, it can be set up and adjusted quickly to prioritize and set limits on bandwidth and other usage parameters.
“Maestro brings the tools and the interface for them to do that from one location and set these priorities as they wish,” said Wagner. “Maestro has been compiled with many different technologies into a single platform that’s really there to optimize the network performance, increase efficiencies and really enhance the end-user’s experience onboard.”
All of this can be achieved by converging multiple providers’ equipment and capabilities into the same system, thereby establishing a smaller hardware footprint onboard. To do this, MTN is working with partner companies whose systems will work seamlessly and efficiently with MTN Maestro.
“We’re trying to take all that complexity and make that easier,” said Wagner.
MTN believes the system has been designed in a way that leaves it poised to accommodate changes and new technologies in the future.
“What we’ve been known for has been our ability to bring reliable connectivity and reliable, dedicated throughput. That’s our claim to fame. But nowadays, you need more than that,” said Wagner.
“The biggest thing about Maestro is that it is a full, end-to-end solution,” he said.
To learn more about MTN Maestro, visit: www.mtnsat.com.
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