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Bored with penguins? Hurtigruten fits satellite internet on cruise liners

Asta Lassesen Hurtigruten.jpg

Hurtigruten Expeditions, a cruise ship company that specialises in the Arctic and Antarctic, has fitted SpaceX’s Starlink on its fleet.

The company, based in Oslo, says it has been working with satellite equipment specialist Speedcast since March to test and integrate Starlink’s low Earth orbit (LEO) service.

Now, it says, it will finish roll-out of the high-speed, low-latency connections by the end of October. Customers will also get coverage from geostationary (GEO) satellites, as well as 4G/5G where available from the shore.

Asta Lassesen (pictured), CEO of Hurtigruten Expeditions, said: “It’s only fitting that we bring the world’s most innovative technologies onboard our ships to further enhance the experience and day-to-day lives for our guests, crew, partners and the communities we visit.”

Speedcast CEO Joe Spytek said: “Speedcast’s expertise lies in our ability to combine all available connectivity paths and manage a complete service that offers the highest levels of uptime, availability, and performance.”

Hurtigruten says it will provide the satellite services in Antarctica, Alaska, Greenland and the Chilean fjords, he said. “They will be bolstered with this new LEO coverage, where available,” added Spytek, CEO since early 2021.

As he hinted, one snag is that Starlink doesn’t yet provide service in the high latitudes of the Arctic and Antarctic. Starlink’s own map shows no service north of Bergen in Norway, about 1,000km south of Hurtigruten’s own former headquarters in Tromsø.

At the other end of the world, coverage just about reaches Punta Arenas at the tip of Chile, 53° south.

“When Starlink introduces maritime coverage in Antarctica and the Arctic, we will be ready,” said Lassesen. “The introduction of new technology makes it easier for everyone onboard to remain connected with friends, family and loved ones, no matter where they are. We’re leading by example and challenge all cruise lines to make internet free for crew members.”

Speedcast announced its agreement with SpaceX’s Starlink to offer the broadband service to enterprise and maritime customers earlier this month. It will integrate Starlink connectivity into the multi-path, multi-orbit service that it already offers, using an SD-WAN solution to prioritise traffic, offer guaranteed service levels, and manage the customer experience.