When choosing the correct marine satellite communication system for your vessel, understanding the difference in network coverage and the internet speed, will give you the best opportunity to make the right choice.  This article will hopefully assist you in making the right choice for you.  However, please feel free to contact one of our knowledgeable staff with any questions. We are always happy to assist in making sure you buy the right product the first time.

 Satellite Communications on a boat

 All of the satellite marine solutions offer the ability to make a voice call over satellite, where they differ, is what type of programs their internet speeds can run and the coverage offered on a global level. Before moving any further, please ask yourself the two questions below. These 2 questions will help you select the right solution by the end of this page.

  1. Where globally will you travel? Different satellite networks offer different coverage globally.
  2. What type of Internet programs do you need to run?

There are 3 satellite networks which offer marine maritime vessel solutions. Thuraya has coverage around Australia, out to New Zealand Waters, up to Japan then west to Asia (map below). Thuraya does not offer coverage in the Pacific or North and South America. Inmarsat, our second network, offers near global coverage with only the north and south poles not covered.  Finally, Iridium offers truly global coverage.

 

Satellite Network Coverage Maps

Thuraya – Fixed (High Stationary)

Thuraya operates 2 satellites within their network. The two satellites are located above Singapore and Kenya.  They will require an external antenna, on the vessel or the person using the phone, to have an un-interrupted view of the sky in those directions to get a signal.

Thuraya Global Coverage Map:

Thuraya Satellite Communications Coverage map

 

Inmarsat – Fixed (High stationary)

Inmarsat has 3 satellites, which make up its near global coverage. The closest to Australia is located over PNG. The other 2 satellites are located off the coast of South America (west) and over central Africa. All of Inmarsat’s satellites are located on the equator, which gives them the best opportunity to offer greater coverage.

Inmarsat Coverage Map:

Inmarsat Coverage map Satellite Communications

Iridium – Moving (low earth)

Iridium has 66 smaller satellites, which are always moving around the earth, at any given time.  This means you simply need to pull out the antenna on the phone and point towards the sky.

Iridium Coverage map: - Global

Iridium Coverage map Satellite Communications

 

Once you have ensured that you will have satellite coverage on your journey, selecting a unit that will give you the internet you need is the next step. As mentioned earlier, all of the marine solutions will give you voice communication, and all offer an external antenna. The speed of the internet and what programs they can run, is the differentiating factor. 

 

To try and simplify the different options, we have broken Internet use into 3 very distinct cases. Then we have assigned these capabilities to the solutions at the end. By choosing which level of internet you need, it will help when selecting your final solution.

 

 

 

  1. Limited Internet Use – Solutions with limited internet use, can achieve the following:
  • Websites that display only text or special apps, that display compressed information – Eg. Predicted Wind for weather updates or a dedicated email app, that shrinks down your emails to send and receive them over a very slow internet speed. Generally, using normal apps you use every day on your phone, will not work over the limited internet use devices.
Marine Satellite Data

 

  1. Basic Internet Use - Solutions with limited basic internet use, can achieve the following:

 

  • Basic internet use allows you to web browse on websites with a small number of images (Eg. – gov.au and basic news websites).  These require no secure logins (Eg.– internet banking, eBay). These devices will also be able to access email via standard apps, that you currently use on your phone or computer. However, if the emails you receive have large attachments (images, PDF’s or programs), then they might take a very long time to download (up to 20 minutes to bring down a large attachment). Performing a search on a search engine (Eg. Google & Bing) can take up to 1 minute to receive the results.

 

Satellite internet for marine use

 

  1. Moderate to advanced Use - Solutions with moderate to advanced internet use, can achieve the following:

 

    • When using satellite internet, moderate to advanced examples would include, Internet banking, remote desktops, VPN’s, one on one Zoom, Microsoft teams calls, websites with secure login’s (eBay, Accounting websites) and social media (Facebook, Instagram). All of these functions can be carried out over a moderate to advanced satellite internet connection. However, the speed will not be as fast as you experience now in the city.  The quality of the video call will have to be on standard definition and might not have perfect resolution.
Satellite Data for marine

 

 

Maritime Solutions: All of the below units either come with or have the ability to be connected to an external antenna. Using an external antenna is recommend when operating on a vessel, to try and ensure coverage all the time. To make it easy to identify which solutions come with antennas or not, we have added this to the solution briefs below.

 

  • Iridium GO! - Limited Internet Use

Iridium GO! satellite data

  • Price: $1299
  • Satellite Network – Iridium (coverage maps can be found here)
  • Included Antenna – No – $579 which includes a 12m with cable rail or deck mount
  • Plans Per month: $50-$209
  • Basic Overview: The Iridium GO! is the solution of choice for yachties the world over, a small compact unit that can be connected to an external antenna or used as a stand-alone solution. The GO! provides voice and “Basic Internet” over the Iridium GO! apps. 

 

  • The Iridium GO! is a satellite smart phone adapter, that once turned on, the unit will make a Wi-Fi network that you connect to on your smart phone or tablet. For internet use, you must use the app provided by Iridium. As the internet on this device is extremely slow, only specially made apps will work.  A list of all Iridium approved apps can be found HERE. Please note only apps on the Iridium list will work with your Iridium GO! If you would like to use apps not on this list, you will need to look at alternative solutions.

The Unlimited Text & Data plan for $209 per month is one of our most popular plans for the Iridium GO! The plan gives you unlimited text messages, unlimited GO! data and 50 minutes of calls.

Find Out more Here:

 

  • Satsleeve - Basic Internet Use

SatSleeve satellite data

  • Price: $999
  • Satellite Network – Thuraya (coverage maps can be found here)
  • Included Antenna – No – $379, which gives you an 8m cable and a rail or deck mount option.
  • Plans Per month: $15-$99 Per month

 

  • Basic Overview:
  • The Satsleeve is considered to be a land-based solution, only due to the global coverage that Thuraya currently offers. However, if you are not planning to travel outside of Thuraya’s coverage map, it could be a great alternative to the Iridium GO!, as it has cheaper running costs and faster data capabilities.

The Satsleeve is a satellite smart phone adapter, when turned on, the unit will make a Wi-Fi network that you connect to on your smart phone or tablet. Once connected, you can enable internet via the Satsleeve app. Until the internet is enabled, no data will be connected (you don’t need to worry about accidentally downloading information by mistake). You can use basic apps with the satsleeve, like your standard web browser and email. However, any app that requires a password to login, like internet banking, will not work. The internet is alot slower than you will be use to on your phone.  A search on a standard search engine (Google or Bing) will take around 45 seconds to 1 minute to download.

Find Out more Here:

     

     

    • Marine Star - Basic Internet Use
    Marine Star
    • Price: $1999
    • Satellite Network – Thuraya (coverage maps can be found here)
    • Included Antenna - Yes
    • Running Cost Per month: $49-$79
    • Basic Overview: The Marine Star is the entry level fixed maritime solution. The solution consists of the handset, 25 meter cable and an active antenna. The Marine Star offers basic internet use, however, to use the Marine Star with your phone or tablet, you will need to install a Redport Optimizer to get a Wi-FI connection. Alternatively, the unit can be connected to a computer by a serial port.

    Redport recommend with this product:

    When using the Redport product, you can choose to have the unit block certain internet traffic, to try and make the internet faster. The Report unit will block all non-approved web traffic, which will assist with speeding up the support websites and apps. The Redport unit does have a monthly subscription, for more details please visit our Redport page - HERE

    Find Out more Here:

     

    • Fleet One Basic Internet Use / Moderate to Advanced

    Fleet One Satellite Internet

    • Included Antenna - Yes
    • Price: $4599
    • Running Cost Per month: $78 - $780
    • Basic Overview: The Fleet One is Inmarsat’s entry level marine solution. The terminal can be plugged into an analog (cordless or corded) phone or can be purchased with the robust IP Handset. The terminal sits in between basic internet use and moderate to advance use, depending on what programs you wish to run. The unit does not have the internet speed to do video conferencing, however, can be used for internet banking, if working on a tablet or smart phone (smart phone apps require less speed). The Fleet One has a number of plan options.  If this is a product you are considering, please reach out to one of our team members for additional assistance.

    Redport recommend with this product:

    When using the Redport product, you can choose to have the unit block certain internet traffic, to try and make the internet faster. The Report unit will block all non-approved web traffic, which will assist with speeding up the support websites and apps. The Redport unit does have a monthly subscription, for more details please visit our Redport page - HERE

     

     

    • Iridium Certus VesselLINK - Moderate to Advanced

    Certus Sailor 4300

    Iridium offers 2 Maritime based solutions in their range of Certus terminals. The biggest difference in capabilities with the terminals, is how fast they can send data (also known as upload). The VesselLINK terminal offers double the send speed of the SAILOR solution. Who would this be important too? The answer is anyone who is looking to send large information of data. This may include a video conference, sending large important information or running a remote desktop program.

    The Iridium Certus Solutions offer the fastest internet speeds from the smallest solution. Certus can deliver internet fast enough to video conference one on one, do internet banking, remote desktop work and basic video streaming of YouTube and Netflix. The Iridium solution comes with the smallest antenna setup, or any maritime high speed internet devices. The terminals also come with 2 voice channels, which allow 2 separate calls to take place at once.

    Find Out More HERE

     

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