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Vsat vs Starlink

Updated: Sep 21, 2021

If you are docked in the marina you can use the free wifi signal of the marina, dropping anchor a few miles of the coast marine electronics switch to 4G/5G, go any further and the only thing left to use is VSAT. However will this change with the rise of the Starlink network?


Vsat

Vsat is short for very-small-aperture terminal. Satellites have been placed into geostationary orbit (GEO) and redirect signals to hub stations on the ground which are connected to the internet. A reasonable V-Sat connection at sea might be 5-20Mbps.

Vsat system onboard consists of a dish antenna, often concealed into a awful big ugly dome, ensuring the connection with the satellite. Difficulty at sea versus land based is that a yacht is constantly moving, the dish antenna needs to be stabilized with respect to the horizon and true north. Small electric motors and sensors keep the dish pointed accurately at a sat, to secure data transfer. Drawbacks are low bandwidth, high latency and higher latitude coverage


Starlink

A network of Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites to provide mobile internet access around the world. The network will eventually consist of 40.000 small satellites, orbiting earth at multiple operational altitudes.

In May 2019 the first 60 satellites were launched successfully with the falcon 9 rocket, to date (aug, 2021) 1,740 satellites are orbiting our planet.

Starlink might be capable of reaching 1 Gbps.

By expanding the numbers to thousands of satellites and connecting them in a network, Starlink can ensure global coverage exceeding any other sat network. By Twitter, Musk announced that the béta phase will end next month (sept, 2021), without providing any details. Probably this will mean that the speed and reliability of the network will improve in the upcoming months.


At sea

According to Musk the service will be relatively easy to be used at sea and commented that the relative few users on the oceans is an advantage. Space X themselves requested permission to test Starlink up to 10 sea fearing vessel, two of them are allegedly autonomous spaceport droneships. So what to expect from speed and latency? In general, Starlink claims it can offer speeds up to one gigabit per second, however to date using the bèta version, speeds seem more in the range of 150-200 megabit per second. So it is still up to Starlink to show prove of the claimed specs. Currently, the Starlink technology is designed for shore-based subscribers, but in the near future it will probably try to connect the maritime industry.


Need information on the best possible internet connection on your luxury yacht? Read the following article or contact us.

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