Marlink will add low Earth orbit satellite broadband provider Starlink’s connectivity to its smart hybrid network service for Greek ship management customer Thenamaris, the Paris-based connectivity integrator announced Wednesday.
Built on its legacy services, the addition of low Earth orbit (LEO) creates a hybrid solution that Marlink calls Sealink NextGen, which combines GEO VSAT and mobile satellite service backup with its customers’ required mix of LEO or medium Earth orbit (MEO) connectivity, 5G and digital solutions managed from its Xchange platform.
The companies did not disclose the value of the deal.
The contract was preceded by LEO maritime field tests with longtime Marlink customers, including last week’s trial with Athens-based Polembros Shipping, which demonstrated extended digital toolsets supporting enhanced crew welfare and remote technologies made possible by the lower latency of a global LEO network.
Marlink has also equipped Solstad Offshore (OSE: SOFF) vessels with Sealink VSAT, L-band backup and 4G services through the same LEO technology. Norway-based Solstad migratedits fleet connectivity to Marlink technologies in September 2022.
The agreements show Marlink’s commitment to Starlink technology to bolster its hybrid network services.
“The integration of new LEO capabilities with our well-established Sealink VSAT service represents a new frontier of performance for maritime customers, like Solstad, that will experience unparalleled connectivity that improve business operations and crew welfare,” Tore Morten Olsen, president of maritime at Marlink, said in a release.
“The value provided by Marlink comes through the combination of networks to ensure business and crew connectivity,” Olsen said. “The deployment of Starlink adds a new layer of connectivity with much faster throughput and lower latency, boosting the company’s business and crew communications, enabling the deployment of digital solutions and crew welfare services.
Northern Sky Research’s Maritime Connectivity report predicts geostationary satellite connectivity demand will increase by 28% by 2032, and non-geostationary — LEO and MEO — demand will increase by 47%, for a total capacity demand in excess of 2,400 gigabits per second.
Carbon mitigation through efficiency
Digitized efficiencies are often lauded as an indirect way of reducing emissions. Transportation markets such as the maritime industry are a good example.
“With decarbonization firmly on the maritime agenda and a real need to create efficiencies in the short term, ship owners and operators are quickly embracing digitalization as a means to gain visibility on vessel performance, fuel consumption and carbon emissions,” Olsen told CBN.
“That means collecting data from the vessel and drawing data together on everything from weather forecasts to prevailing market conditions, something LEO can support and with its higher throughput and lower latency.”
The philosophy goes hand in hand with the economic perspective. “Digitalization saves operators money primarily through reduced fuel consumption because voyages can be optimized, to minimize consumption,” Olsen said. “The possibility to enable sensor-based predictive maintenance may increase a vessel’s operational time and save on maintenance costs.”
Digitalization also add value because they provide maritime customers with transparency to make market choices,” he added. “The cost of lost business from not being able to demonstrate efficiency or compliance could be enormous.”