KVH ships 5,000th TracPhone system for mini-VSAT broadband network

(MIDDLETOWN, R.I.) — KVH Industries Inc. recently shipped its 5,000th TracPhone satellite communications antenna system for the mini-VSAT broadband network, adding more than 1,000 units in the past year and extending the company's market share lead in maritime VSAT service. Together, the advanced TracPhone antenna systems and global mini-VSAT broadband network constitute an end-to-end solution for maritime satellite communications, providing essential connectivity to tankers, containerships, fishing fleets, offshore supply vessels, government patrol cutters, and luxury yachts around the world.

"Our solution has been widely adopted because it brings simplicity and value to ship owners, IT fleet managers, and vessel captains operating global vessels in a highly competitive environment," says Martin Kits van Heyningen, KVH's chief executive officer. "When we entered the market, accessing the Internet at sea was ridiculously expensive, either due to extremely high airtime rates or the need for complex, expensive onboard equipment that was difficult to install and maintain. Our goal was to win a leadership position through market disruption, changing the way mariners thought about satellite communications by offering small, simple, easy-to-install equipment, fast data speeds, and low airtime costs."

In 2012, just five years after being introduced, the mini-VSAT broadband service became the maritime VSAT market share leader according to leading market research reports, a position that has been repeatedly re-confirmed in report updates.

"Our approach is unique in that we are the only company that designs and manufactures our own onboard systems, and that operates our own network, so we deliver a fully integrated end-to-end solution," says Kits van Heyningen. "This approach allows us to deliver a better user experience by simplifying our equipment and tailoring services to perform on our network without a lot of custom configuration."

KVH's advanced TracPhone antenna systems include the TracPhone V11-IP, a 1.1 meter diameter, dual-mode C/Ku-band antenna for global VSAT connectivity; the TracPhone V7-IP, a 60 cm diameter enterprise-grade antenna for Ku-band service worldwide; and the TracPhone V3-IP, a 37 cm diameter Ku-band antenna that is the world's most compact maritime VSAT antenna. All three TracPhone V-IP systems feature the Integrated CommBox modem (ICM), a streamlined belowdecks unit that replaces the need for a rack full of components and integrates all antenna control, onboard network management, and modem functions in one small box. The compact antenna hardware makes installation faster and less expensive, and gives worldwide fleets the ability to efficiently install the KVH system with minimal idle time for their vessels.

"Operating our own network provides us with unique opportunities to offer creative solutions to our customers' problems," says Kits van Heyningen. "For example, delivering large files such as movies, music, and TV shows, or digital charts and training videos used to cost thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars over competing satellite networks, if allowed at all. We invented a new service called IP-MobileCast that actually broadcasts large files to all of our customers at once, which is so efficient we don't charge for the content's delivery. Instead, fleets subscribe to the news, entertainment, and sports content that they want."

Prior to launching the IP-MobileCast content delivery service last year, KVH developed not only the multicasting technology to make it feasible, but also acquired a company to produce, procure, and license content for the maritime market. KVH Media Group produces daily digital newspapers under the NEWSlink brand; licenses award-winning new-release Hollywood movies and TV programs under the MOVIElink and TVlink brands; provides sports highlights and video clips from around the world under the SPORTSlinkTM brand; and develops digital music channels under the MUSIClink brand. This content is available via IP-MobileCast subscription packages.

To help fleets operate more efficiently, KVH has collaborated with leading maritime navigation and weather content providers such as Jeppesen, Transas, and AWT to deliver electronic charts and high-resolution weather data via the IP-MobileCast content delivery service. Aware of the importance of seafarer safety and professional qualifications, KVH also plans to provide multicasting delivery of maritime training content from VideotelTM, a leader in maritime training and a company that KVH acquired in July 2014.

KVH conducts global sales and support activities from offices around the world, and provides 24/7/365 network monitoring and technical support to mini-VSAT broadband vessels. The global satellite network is the world's most extensive C/Ku-band maritime VSAT network, utilizing capacity from 23 transponders on 16 satellites. In 2014, the mini-VSAT broadband network delivered 500 terabytes of data and 25 million voice minutes to vessels around the world.

By Professional Mariner Staff