Smooth Sailing with Starlink or LTE/5G? Selecting the correct Maritime Connectivity

Introduction

When it comes to staying connected while at sea, Seafarers have a choice to make: should they opt for Satellite communications like Starlink or choose LTE/5G broadband solutions?

In this article, we’ll delve into the specifics of these two technologies and explore when it’s better to use one over the other, particularly for marine applications.

What is Starlink?

It is a satellite internet constellation project developed by SpaceX. It involves a constellation of small LEO (low earth orbit) satellites orbiting the Earth, providing high-speed, low-latency broadband internet access to underserved and remote areas around the world, including those at sea.

What are LTE/5G Domes?

LTE/5G Domes, provided by companies like POYNTING, are terrestrial-based internet solutions that utilize cellular networks. These domes are specifically designed for marine applications, ensuring a stable internet connection for the maritime industry. Among POYNTING’s solutions, two popular options are the RIPPLE and WAVEHUNTER domes.

For both these solutions it is important to consider its limitations and strengths when consider which option is best to use as communication solution for your vessel or yacht.

LTE / 5G should be your basis.

For most marine applications, starting with a POYNTING LTE/5G Dome should be your foundation. These solutions are reliable and well-suited for coastal sailing where cellular coverage is readily available.

Upgrade Path is Starlink

However, if your voyages take you deep into the open sea, Starlink can be a valuable upgrade path to add to your LTE/5G solution. Starlink’s satellite coverage extends far beyond the reach of terrestrial networks, making it ideal for long-distance or deep-sea sailing.

Why LTE/5G?
  1. There are several compelling reasons to consider LTE/5G broadband solutions for your marine connectivity:
  2. More reliable: Cellular networks are known for their reliability, even in challenging conditions.
  3. Free or less costly: Many seafarers can leverage their existing cellular plans, making it a cost-effective choice.
  4. Faster: LTE/5G networks offer impressive data speeds, allowing for smooth internet use.
  5. Pay as you go: You only pay for the data you use, making it flexible for occasional sailors.
  6. Higher throughput: Cellular networks can handle high data throughputs, supporting multiple devices simultaneously.
  7. Shorter delay: Lower latency ensures a responsive internet connection

Drawbacks of Starlink.

While Starlink offers global coverage, it’s not without its drawbacks:

  1. Higher cost: Starlink typically involves a monthly fixed fee, which can be more expensive than cellular plans.
  2. Weather-dependent: Cloudy or overcast conditions can affect Starlink’s performance, especially during bad weather.
  3. Unpredictable charges: Starlink uses a 30 day contract and terms and conditions can change on a monthly basis.

Let’s compare it to how we use our mobile phones when at home or in the office.

Think of it this way: using mobile phones on Wi-Fi at home or work saves us money and gives us a good connection. We only use more expensive mobile networks when Wi-Fi isn’t around. Similarly, near the shore, we can connect to LTE or 5G for a good connection without spending too much. But when we go far out into the ocean, Starlink is like a special option, helping us stay connected in those areas where we are outside of LTE or 5Gs reach. It’s like switching between Wi-Fi and mobile networks, but now we have more choices to get the best connection wherever we are.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the best option for marine connectivity depends on your specific needs and sailing habits. For most vessels, leisure boats and super-yachts that stay within 30-40 nautical miles off the coast, LTE/5G broadband solutions like those offered by POYNTING are an excellent solution. They are reliable, cost-effective, and readily available.

However, if your adventures take you into the deep sea, consider Starlink as an upgrade path to your existing LTE/ 5G solution. Its global coverage can keep you connected even in the most remote locations. This combination of both technologies offers you the best of both worlds, ensuring connectivity regardless of your location at sea.

Want to read more on this subject:

  1.  https://medium.com/@v.chawin/visualising-global-shipping-traffic-density-2015-2021-7d544aa9380d                
  2. https://starlinkzone.com/starlink-vs-lte/#starlink-vs-lte-conclusion
  3. https://medium.com/networkers-fiit-stu/starlink-vs-cellular-how-does-it-perform-in-2023-europe-6435d835bbaf
  4. https://history-computer.com/starlink-vs-lte-how-do-they-compare/
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