Growing volumes of cruise traffic will drive demand for more polar bandwidth

Marlink research shows future evolution of non-geostationary satellite connectivity services will support growing market demands in polar regions

Marlink, the smart grid solutions company, has published a report on the current status and future prospects of satellite capacity and connectivity based on ship activity in the Polar Regions. The report examines ship demand in the context of the post-pandemic rebound and includes data and insights from industry experts on where the market is heading in the medium term.

Its central conclusion is that the demand for high-quality data connectivity in the polar regions is expected to increase as specialist and mainstream cruise operators expand sailings to meet growing demand. This contrasts with merchant shipping – often cited as having large-scale polar potential, but which is constrained by geopolitical factors – while government activity is also showing growth.

A post-COVID rebound in cruise passenger numbers is expected in Arctic cruising, with Norwegian domestic cruise traffic forecast data in 2022 predicting an increase from actual numbers in 2019. International cruise operators could start sending more conventional ships in the region as they seek to extend sailing schedules and fill passenger berths.

The trend of increasing leisure traffic will lead to further growth in bandwidth demand, with large “floating village” cruise ships consuming more satellite capacity in Ka, Ku and C bands, with some also adopting non-geostationary services (NGSO) once they become available. . Expedition cruise operators with itineraries above 80 degrees north latitude will likely pursue a strategy focused on NGSO services with L-band backup, according to the report.

The increase in demand will drive a steady growth in demand for satellite bandwidth in the Ku and Ka bands between 65 and 80 degrees latitude, where large conventional cruise ships are likely to operate, and a potential boom in bandwidth of OSNGs at more extreme latitudes between 80 and 90 degrees. This new generation of satellite constellations will for the first time provide high-speed bandwidth to expedition and specialized vessels.

The report includes an overview of the Polar/Glacial class fleet and its growth prospects, sample AIS data on ship traffic in the Polar Regions, cruise port calls to Norway within the circle arctic polar, a summary of available polar connectivity options and a comparison of the comprehensive “network of networks” provided by Marlink.

“The scale of the polar connectivity challenge is significant, but so is the opportunity and we believe the situation could change rapidly, from scarce bandwidth to new capacity that will support safer and more secure operations. a higher frequency of reporting”, said President, Maritime, Marlink, Tore Morten Olsen. “A single connectivity system will never be a complete solution for our customers’ needs; all available networks are needed to maximize opportunities and meet these rapidly changing needs.