Using its newly developed MedallionNet and working with SES Networks, the world-leading provider of satellite-enabled connectivity solutions with 67 satellites in orbit, Carnival Corp. and Princess Cruises achieved bandwidth exceeding 1.5 gigabits per second, the most ever delivered to a mobile platform.
That equates to more than 6,000 users concurrently surfing the internet, or 1,500 Netflix or Hulu subscribers streaming TV shows or movies.
This was achieved Monday morning with Regal Princess anchored off Princess Cays on the southern tip of Eleuthera in the outer Bahamas, according to John Padgett, chief experience and innovation officer for Carnival Corp.
Previously, Padgett said, the largest known bandwidth delivered to any cruise ship was 580 megabits (Mbps) per second.
'Today we blew that away,' he told media during a webcast from Regal Princess.
The record attempt was to demonstrate that connectivity is no longer a limitation in cruising. Passengers using MedallionNet have access to the Internet at speeds that eclipse typical land-based hotel connectivity performance levels.
'This event gives us the opportunity to demonstrate that guests can have a connected experience that parallels land-based Wi-Fi, making it exceptionally easy for our guests to share photos, videos and messages about their fabulous vacation,' Padgett said. 'Cruise vacations are already the fastest growing segment of the vacation sector, and eliminating any connectivity barriers will make cruise vacations even more desirable.'
'MedallionNet puts to rest the notion that connectivity at sea will never be as fast or reliable as your broadband at home,' added Steve Collar, CEO of SES Networks. 'Powered by our O3b fleet of medium earth orbit satellites, and complemented by our geostationary earth orbit constellation, we are not only able to exceed average land-based bandwidth capabilities, but also are able to set a new industry apex for guest connectivity experience.'
Collar said he has been 'better connected here on board (Regal Princess) than I am in my office.'
It's impressive and encouraging, to be sure, but just a start.
For now, MedallionNet in its full implementation is available only on Regal Princess, though Padgett said today's apex will set the bar for brands within the Carnival Corp. fleet.
Specifics about further rollout were not provided.
However, Padgett noted all Carnival Corp. ships offer connectivity and 'dramatic improvements' have been made across all those ships.
Pricing for MedallionNet on Regal Princess starts at $9.99 per day for one device when purchased for the entire voyage. Per device savings can be greater by choosing multi device plans.
According to a study conducted last year by Ookla, an Internet speed test company, the average US fixed broadband download speed was 64.17 Mbps in the first half of 2017, while the average upload speed was 22.79 Mbps.
MedallionNet download speeds can exceed residential service levels, often eclipsing 100 Mbps, with upload speeds exceeding 60 Mbps. Mark Holmes, editorial director for the Satellite and Aviation Group of Access Intelligence, was aboard Regal Princess to help authenticate the record capacity and validate that MedallionNet exceeded any disclosed bandwidth in the cruise industry.
The activities surrounding the attempt to set a new apex for bandwidth capacity included a series of Facebook Live streaming sessions. The stars of Carnival Corp.’s Ocean Originals television programs were on hand to put MedallionNet to the test on the ship and at Princess Cays. Hosts used their mobile devices to stream high-definition videos, play mobile apps, FaceTime with friends and post video stories on social media—all to maximize the amount of bandwidth use.