Taking a major step toward expanding availability of the mini-VSAT Broadband service, KVH Industries, Inc., (Nasdaq: KVHI) today announced that it has signed a 5-year agreement with GE International Holdings, Inc., (also known as SAT-GE) to lease satellite capacity on its GE-23 satellite to provide coverage in the Pacific Ocean via the satellite’s North Pacific Ku-band Beam. Expected to go live in December 2008, the new coverage area will include Alaska, the west coasts of Canada and the United States, Hawaii and extend into Asia. It represents a significant expansion in the availability of the increasingly popular mini-VSAT Broadband Internet and voice service as well as the latest milestone in the KVH and ViaSat joint effort to provide affordable mobile broadband connections around the globe.
“The extension of mini-VSAT Broadband coverage into the Pacific will allow us to support a significant portion of the world’s shipping lanes, including blue water coverage between Asia and ports in the U.S. and Canada,” said Martin Kits van Heyningen, KVH’s chief executive officer.
VSAT is the technology that allowed our founder, John Konrad, to start this site while still shipping. While he was based in the Gulf Of Mexico his drillship utilized this technology to offer wireless internet in the accommodations of his ship. This worked because the vessel had a long term contract within the footprint of a VSAT provider. Ships operating internationally have been less fortunate relying on INMARSAT to relay basic email due to the prohibitively high expense for purchasing the satellite receivers and paying for bandwidth on a metered rate plan.
In discussing new technology with KVH we learned the new systems they are developing have a number of cost saving features. First they have reduced the dish size and have incorporated GPS tracking features into the unit obviating the need of being integrated with the ship’s gyro and navigational GPS. Second is their ability to charge for the service on at a fixed monthly rate.
Why are we so excited by these developments? First is the systems ability to handle VOIP services like Skype which will give mariners the ability to call home every night. Second…. well to be honest… gCaptain’s business model sort of relies on the adoption of internet services at sea.
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