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Inmarsat predicts the future of on-board communication

15 December 2020

Superyacht Satellite company Inmarsat reveals its predictions for the future of on board communications

If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that staying connected wherever you are in the world is more important than ever. But how much bandwidth should superyacht builders or tech experts expect to be needed at sea, and what should owners budget for satellite communication spending on board their superyacht?

Inmarsat, the satellite communications company whose high-speed mobile broadband service Fleet Xpress is installed on as many as 10,000 vessels, answers these questions in its 2020 annual report. As an industry leader for digitalisation in the superyacht sector, the third report to be produced by Inmarsat is critical reading for anyone interested in superyacht tech. 

The data analysed by Inmarsat’s report has been gathered from over 300 superyacht professionals including skippers, senior crew members and chief engineers working on superyachts ranging in length from 24 metres to 100 metres.

In particular, the findings of the 2020 edition of the report focused on the need for superyacht professionals to have greater awareness about on-board satellite technology and how this will enhance yachting freedom in the future. The results of Inmarsat’s report also reflect the increased importance of stable communications and connectivity on board in 2020, as travel restrictions and lockdowns accentuated the need for seamless communication from afar.

Below are the key findings delivered by Inmarsat’s 2020 superyacht connectivity survey. To read the report in full, click the button below.


COVID-19 has skyrocketed the demand for superyacht connectivity

Uniquely to 2020, the findings of this year’s Inmarsat report reflect the impact of the pandemic on connectivity. Since the start of the coronavirus crisis, Inmarsat reported that users of Fleet Xpress satellite communications on board superyachts were downloading on average an extra 2GB. This indicates how the pandemic uniquely increased demand for bandwidth and on-board communications for safety, healthcare and telemedicine, crew welfare, personal and business communication, and vessel operations.

Increased VSAT satellite transmission usage is expected by 2025

Unsurprisingly, the respondents of Inmarsat’s survey largely predicted an increased usage of satellite communications on board superyachts. A majority of 53% of respondents predicted that they will use VSAT for more than 50% of the time spent on board in the next five years. Specifically, the report details an expected 42% increase in superyacht VSAT usage by 2025.

Image courtesy of Unsplash

Greater spending is predicted on superyacht satellite communications

Greater usage naturally leads to greater spending. This was recognised by the participants of the Inmarsat survey, with 61% predicting that they will spend more than €10,000 per month on satellite connectivity in five years’ time, and 29% predicting they will spend over €20,000 by 2025. Currently, 73% of participants are spending less than €10,000 per month on satellite connectivity.

The need for greater spending is also linked to the increased desire of owners for remote cruising; of the data collected, 73% of respondents indicated a clear intention to travel further afield on board their superyacht. Inmarsat’s data also shows that more yachts are travelling to Asia and the South Pacific than in 2019, and this desire for wider roaming is in turn driving demand for global on-board connectivity – which will in turn increase necessary spending.

Greater awareness of Cyber Security Required

While the majority of superyacht professionals appear to recognise the need for greater connectivity and satellite communications on board, the Inmarsat report has revealed that the cyber security threats that are part and parcel of this technology are still largely misunderstood by those same professionals. Nearly half of the survey participants (40%) admitted that they do not know the difference between anti-virus software and network endpoint security. Only 31% of respondents indicated that endpoint security is used on their superyachts, suggesting a lack of knowledge among both yachting professionals and owners when it comes to installing sufficient cyber security on board, such as Inmarsat’s Fleet Secure Portfolio.

Superyachts are collecting more data

Finally, the Inmarsat report revealed that in 2020, an increasing number of vessels are collecting data for metrics and performance reports as well as for safety reasons. As many as 66% of the respondents acknowledged that they use on-board sensors to collect data. Of that group, 70% are using applications such as Inmarsat’s IoT platform, Fleet Data, to analyse this information. Specifically, these professionals indicated that the data collected focused largely on engine monitoring, followed closely by regulatory and navigation data.

With the data results collected in May 2020, Inmarsat’s annual report provides readers not only with a clear indication of current superyacht connectivity usage, but also offers a unique insight into how the behaviours and needs of yachting professionals were affected by the Coronavirus pandemic. Click the link below to read the full report.