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How to Choose the Right Satellite Internet Antenna and Service for Your Vessel

Internet connection while sailing is a crucial need and a matter of importance for everyone who spends time on a boat and seeks excitement and adventures in deep blue waters. With the advancement of satellite technologies, the innovative solutions of the industry are getting closer to the end user with more affordable and applicable equipment and service plans. Still, is difficult to decide what a good fit for your boat would look like. This article covers some of the options to help boat owners chose the best one for their vessel.

Weekend Cruisers, Coastal Trips, Boats to 30’

If you go for coastal cruising near to shore but still out of cellular network coverage, more than 5 miles in the ocean, own a vessel like Cabin Cruiser, Center console, MULTI-HULL, Sailing, Sports fishing, or Walkaround boat and rarely spend more than couple of weeks in the year sailing, you might have to consider the following information before you buy a satellite antenna.

1. Space

Depending on the design of your vessel, you should make sure it has enough space and proper area to mount the antenna and place the cables. Among the smallest antennas in size, which can support Satellite connectivity onboard of a vessel about 30’, are Inmarsat Fleet One and Intellian v45C.

Intellian’s innovative new Antenna brings VSAT to smaller vessels at affordable price. It is a compact and light-weight 45cm, 23kg, with maritime Ku band Terminal.

The terminal delivers a cost-effective connectivity to those customers who have been unable to install a VSAT in the past, due to space considerations or performance constrains.

Another solution which is a good fit for small boats is Fleet One Terminal by Inmarsat. Crafted for seasonal sailing with boat owners cruising around the coastal regions or globally, Inmarsat’s service allows you to stay connected, to make calls as if you are at home. Along with the equipment, boat owners can take advantage of the flexibility to pause the usage of their sim card during the off-season.

2. Purpose of Internet Use

The higher level of satisfaction with user’s internet connectivity is strongly related to the degree in which the service covers the needs and the expectations of the user. Smaller vessels, come with smaller equipment which can be used both for providing basic safety connectivity and also let the user enjoy different applications like: fishing and weather reports, sending and receiving emails and opening attachments, using Satellite Phone, Apple iMessage, Facebook Messenger, Wechat and Whatsapp, entertainment and distant learning, downloading large files.

3. Service Plans and Budget

The service plan and your internet budget should be an integrated part of your internet solution and should be aligned with the equipment and the purpose of use. At the present diversified Satellite connectivity market boat owners have variety of options with service plans that apply best to their customer behavior and purpose of use. Subscription plans or prepaid options, coastal or regional plans the best advice is to consult with your satellite provider and discuss all pros and cons.

Power, Adventure and Comfort in 50’ Vessels

Owners of larger vessels displacement, or semi-displacement yachts, sport cruisers, fishing, sailing or motor yachts who enjoy yachting and maintain maritime lifestyle are often noticed spending significant time sailing and performing their daily working routines on the boat. For those who embrace the deep blue adventures trips and would love the company of their family and friends onboard, the satellite industry has developed solutions that perform moderate to heavy data usage and support at least couple of mbps down and up.

Why VSAT Solutions for Yachts and Vessels 50’ and Up are the Best on the Market?

Browsing Internet, while kids are at their virtual school on board, spouse is checking a cocktail recipe and your family guests posting sunny pics on social media is that even possible? The short answer is yes, it is. As a supreme technology solution maritime VSAT is created to serve the needs of the yachting community, to provide safety, reliable connectivity and comfort among those who utilize bigger Internet capacities. Here is an example of how companies like Orbital Connect bundle some of the solutions which apply to the needs of the yacht owners:

Satellite Internet Hardware

A technical team does a presales analysis and consultation to provide the most appropriate equipment on board using the latest VSAT technology.

A team up with leading satellite manufacturers ensures a stable, uninterruptible satellite connectivity.

For standard applications is recommended the following hardware:

Satellite antenna is lightweight and affordable Ku-band stabilized VSAT maritime antenna system designed to increase the competitive edge in the 65cm class. The v60E’s RF design delivers higher levels of performance, with a standard 6W BUC and Cross-pol only configuration, at significantly reduced pricing, providing customers with lower budget access to the quality and reliability of an Intellian product.

A Ku- to Ka-band convertible maritime VSAT antenna system with an 85cm diameter reflector for bigger vessels. The compact 85cm antenna’s smaller footprint allows installation on vessels bigger than 50’ delivering a premium satellite connectivity.

This satellite router delivers high performance, efficiently and bandwidth management to customers. It enables boat owners to improve the ship to shore connectivity, to create a more rewarding travel experience aboard and to improve the quality of crew and guests. The modem supports different MIR and CIR rates delivering a premium service to the end-user.

Satellite Internet Plans

It is important to select the proper satellite airtime service. What you should consider:

The Contention Ratio and the Guaranteed Bandwidth

The ratio gives you an information about how many terminals use the same satellite capacity. For example, if you subscribe a service with 1:4 ratio that means your bandwidth is split with 3 other users – totally 4 active VSAT services. Having that said if your download speed is 1024Kbps with 1:4 contention ratio, the guaranteed speed would be 256Kbps. The data speed of 1024Kbps is known as MIR (Maximum Information Rate) and the speed 256Kbps as CIR (Committed Information Rate).

Satellite Coverage

Make sure that your sailing area aligns with the coverage of the satellite operator. Otherwise, you won’t be able to use the service.

Airtime Service

As we mentioned above, you should choose the speed considering the contention ratio and the MIR & CIR speeds. If you have installed aboard a specific application which requires a minimum recommended data rates, that should be taken into consideration when selecting the service. Another thing is to ask the service provider for downgrade & upgrade options during the contract period. It’s recommended to choose the plan along with the hardware because some antennas and modems don’t support a higher data speeds due to components’ limitations.

Terms and Agreement

Flexible contracts are always the best option. In case owners sell the boat, often there is no obligation for the rest of the contract period. Discuss this in detail with your service provider and account manager.

After Sales Support

It’s important to get a technical and sales support after provisioning of the service. Make sure that the provider is able to dedicate a sales person and technical engineer for further issues and queries during the contract.

Orbital Connect gives the flexibility to purchase the hardware or to rent it avoiding the capital investment foe service activation. In partnership with Inmarsat, our team customizes a tailor-made professional service for each customer.

There are people with high level of expertise and experience in the satellite industry who can give you good advice and successfully guide you through the ocean of internet options so no matter if you are first time user or you need an upgrade, when the time for your next Satellite connectivity move comes, start with choosing provider who can dedicate to you human resource time and knowledge for a detail consultation.


*Orbital Connect is an LA based company and official channel partner of Inmarsat. Orbital Connect includes in its portfolio Inmarsat Fleet Xpress service. Fleet Xpress takes yachting communications to the next level, delivering high data speeds via Inmarsat’s Global Xpress Ka-band service, combined with Inmarsat’s flagship Fleet Broadband L-band service. Guaranteed global bandwidth provides connectivity in all conditions and locations, making it easier to deliver a five stars guest experience and run an efficiently sailing yacht. Seasonal flexibility is assured via free and fast up- and downgrades of subscription plans: high bandwidth during peak demand and up to 6-months suspension to fulfill service standby in off-season periods. Hardware purchase or rent is available.

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