How can I reduce the cost of monthly airtime charges?

As a matter of fact, many vessel spend a considerable amount of time within coastal areas - whether they are yachts cruising along the coastlines, or cargo vessels going from port to port. This fact can be used to an advantage, by combining the satellite connectivity with land-based LTE internet to reduce the cost of monthly airtime charges.

EPAK offers a ready-made solution: the ACU (antenna control unit) has an LTE modem and two SIM card slots included. By simply inserting (and activating) a SIM card, a second source of connectivity becomes available. LTE technology, as it is used in mobile phones, offers comparatively high speed for much lower costs.

The handover between satellite and land connection is seamlessly managed by the ACU. No need to manually change the settings forth an back. So as soon as the vessel enters into the LTE coverage zone (which starts typically up to 20 miles out from shore) the system switches to data use from 3G/ 4G network.

So where does the saving come from?

Here are two possible scenarios:

1) A yacht owner wants to work from remote and requires high bandwidth for video conferencing: if satellite was the only option, he would have to select a satellite service that guarantees at least 1 Mbps in Upload and in Download. (How much bandwidth do I need onboard of my ship?) If he can organize his calls to take place during his stays in the LTE zone, he can reduce the satellite bandwidth to half or less which is sufficient for online browsing, Emails and voice calls. The additional LTE data will hardly make an impact on the monthly total.

2) A cargo vessel traveling on a worldwide route is at sea for weeks or months on end. The satellite connectivity on board is used for operational needs. The crew does not get access to internet because of budget constraints. In this case the LTE would allow the crew (not permanent but regular) internet access whenever the vessel is calling a port. This gives them an opportunity to contact their families, as well as up-and download high volume data without having to leave the vessel. The fleet operators would be in a position to provide crew welfare at affordable cost.

Several useful features for this scenario have already been integrated and can be managed via the webinterface:

  • adding data limits
  • roaming enable / disable option
  • blacklisting countries

The LTE option is also available with TV antennas. With this feature, ship owners can offer satellite TV reception to their guest and crew at all times - plus a low-cost, high-speed connectivity when traveling in the 4G zone. This is a perfect add-on for yachts and boats that didn’t have a data connection before. Learn more about LTE add on