Cruise Ship Internet is Getting Faster and Cheaper, Providers Say
PHOTO: Cruise passengers are accessing the Internet more than ever. Shown is the FunHub on Carnival Dream and four other Fun Ships. (Courtesy of Carnival Cruise Line)
Is cruise ship Internet access faster and less expensive now? It is, based on information released by two shipboard communications providers.
MTN Communications and Harris CapRock Communications have released information about improved cruise ship Wi-Fi in advance of Cruise Shipping Miami, the industry’s biggest annual convention, taking place next week.
“Cruise passengers and crew have reported back that their connectivity experience at sea has improved significantly over the past two years,” said Brent Horwitz, senior vice president and general manager-cruise and ferry services for MTN Communications. “The cost of connectivity may never fully come down to where it is on land, but passengers demand — and deserve — more value for the amount of money they pay. This increases consumption, which drives operator revenues.”
MTN delivers Internet applications and various value-added services to several Carnival Corp. brands, including Princess Cruises and Holland America Line, as well as many other companies such as Norwegian Cruise Line, Disney Cruise Line, Silversea Cruises and Windstar Cruises.
MTN said it began rolling out “an unmatched customer toolset” in 2012 that included a hybrid satellite and terrestrial broadband network, an Internet billing method akin to land-based resorts for increased revenue growth, and an “Internet café solution” delivering seamless access at sea through any device and shared plans with improved management of data consumption.
The industry’s response to the exploding demand for data was to “increase the pipe” by adding bandwidth to ship service plans.
“Satellite connectivity comes at a high price, though, so operators continued to challenge the industry to improve the passenger and crew Internet experience, decrease credits issued and increase revenues,” Horwitz said. “MTN was first to market with a way to ‘push more data through the pipe on cruise ships faster.’”
The MTN Terrestrial Broadband Network (TBN), made up of access points at 29 of the world’s busiest cruise ports, switches ships from satellite to land-based connectivity seamlessly using patented and patent-pending technology.
“The experience is equal to mobile users moving from one cell tower to another,” the company said. “Switching to the TBN enables faster Internet speeds and higher reliability.”
MTN also shifted Internet pricing so passengers are billed per megabyte (MB) instead of by the minute. Users can browse websites as long as they want, read email, or wait on a text reply without paying more. The company also eliminated the need to keep logging on and off.
“This consumption-based shift increased usage and improved the experience dramatically on ships MTN serves,” the company said. “As a result, operators saw Internet refunds decrease by more than 50 percent.”
Meanwhile, Harris CapRock Communications, the satellite communications provider to Carnival Cruise Line, is touting its solution that increases bandwidth levels on the Fun Ships.
As part of the program, Carnival offers a social media package including unlimited access to popular sites and apps such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Snapchat, for a flat rate of $5 per day.
“The demand for bandwidth continues to grow, and Harris CapRock is focused on providing it in the most advanced and efficient way possible,” said Rick Simonian, president-maritime for Harris CapRock. “Working together, we can ensure that Carnival’s customers enjoy the right level of communications no matter where they are cruising.”
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