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Getting connected: technological advances improve on-board Internet access

Getting connected: technological advances improve on-board Internet access
Adam Snitzer, principal of Peak Revenue Performance Inc. and moderator of Wednesday's 'Get Connected' session at Cruise Shipping Miami, described the on-board connectivity of the past as 'intermittent, slow and expensive.'

Paul Lasley, president of Ontravel Media, was on hand to provide a consumer’s perspective and shared a situation where he needed to upload his radio show—24 megabytes daily—from on board a ship, and could only do so by crouching in front of the front desk at 3 a.m.

'I had to be on the floor, I tried to sit on a chair and it wouldn’t work,' he said.

But other participants were able to offer him—and all cruisers—comfort.

Brent Horwitz, svp and general manager of Cruise & Ferry Services for MTN, described the company’s Terrestrial Broadband Network of access points at 29 popular ports around the world. Ships automatically connect to the terrestrial network when docked, achieving better Internet speeds.

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. chief information officer Bill Martin spoke of a different solution, noting that when 'guests are in port, they are in port,' and would rather enjoy the destination than check email.

RCCL has been experimenting with O3b, which uses a series of mid-orbit satellites. One advantage is the astronomical increase in capacity. In January the line offered free Internet on Quantum of the Seas to see how much demand the ship's 4,180 passengers and 1,500 crew could create. The over 5,000 devices took only a fraction of the capacity, and speeds were so fast users could even stream rich media content.

Martin also saw a 450% increase in activity on the four major social media sites, which he said could equate to millions of photos of Royal Caribbean vacations being posted per week. 

Both options sounded promising to Lasley: 'For the first time, we are talking about sitting in our cabins to upload large files.'

(By Cruise Shipping Miami Today's Diana Arellano)