Japanese ships to offer Starlink High-Speed Internet

   August 4, 2023 ,   Cruise Industry

Mitsui O.S.K. Lines and KDDI Corporation have jointly announced their plans to trial Starlink, a cutting-edge satellite broadband service, on MOL Group-operated cruise ships, ferries, and a coastal RORO vessel starting from August 2023. The primary objective of this trial is to enhance the communication environment onboard these vessels.

By leveraging Starlink's advanced technology, the service aims to provide impressive download speeds of up to 220Mbps during voyages. This significant increase in communication speed is expected to revolutionize interactions between crew members and passengers, elevating the overall maritime experience. The trial phase will thoroughly evaluate the technical feasibility and economic viability of the service, with the intention of implementing it on various ships by autumn 2023, adapting to each vessel's unique conditions and schedule.

One of the key challenges driving this initiative is the weak terrestrial signals in remote marine areas. While geostationary satellite communication has been the conventional choice, the surge in information and data has made real-time communication between land and sea more complex.

This initiative is particularly beneficial for crew members who desire high-speed internet connectivity similar to what they experience on land. Closing the information gap between land and sea will enhance their working conditions. Additionally, passengers on cruise ships and ferries also seek high-speed internet access to enrich their travel experiences.

To conduct the trial, four vessels will be equipped with "Starlink Business," KDDI's maritime satellite broadband service. These vessels include the cruise ship Nippon Maru operated by Mitsui OSK Passenger Line Ltd, the ferries Sunflower Sapporo and Sunflower Satsuma operated by Mitsui OSK Ferry Ltd, and the RoRo ship Musashi Maru, operated by Ferry Sunflower Co Ltd.

During the initial trial phase, the service will be evaluated by crew members and employees, and based on the outcomes, the possibility of expanding the trial to customers will be explored.

KDDI's Starlink service boasts an impressive maximum download speed of 220Mbps during sea voyages, providing easy access to crucial navigation information, and mirroring onshore internet usage.

The benefits of high-speed communication will extend to passengers on cruise ships and ferries, allowing them to share real-time videos and other content while traveling.

Preliminary trials on international ships under the MOL Group have demonstrated up to a 50-fold improvement in communication speeds compared to existing facilities.