Were you where the 1/1/2013? Maybe not at sea. Instead some brave sailors were enjoying strong winds. Following a great video from the Maserati sail yacht the 1/1/2013, just one day after living New York.
Reading from the website we can discover that the 13225 nautical miles that separate New York from San Francisco via Cape Horn, are an historic route, widely travelled by clippers that were involved in the gold rush starting from the second half of 1800. Instead looking for gold, the Maserati team goal is to sail this route beating the record of Aquitaine Innovations: 57 days, 3 hours, 2 minutes.
The technology that is enabling this reliable communications from the sea is essentially FleetBroadband from Inmarsat. The Fleetbroadband coverage is enabled by 3 geosynchronous orbit satellites. The service is available on latitudes lower than 60º. If you look in detail the coverage map you will discover that also some areas over latitude 60º are covered, but the coverage is discontinue.
If the sail yacht route is going to be out of the FleetBroadband coverage, an Iridum device will be required. Iridium has global coverage. It uses 66 low-Earth orbit satellites, but the data speed offered is lower than the one offered by the FleetBroadband (max FBB500: 432kbps vs. max Iridium Next: 134 kbps).
The main devices permitting FleetBroadband data transmission are antennas produced by various manufacturers: Thrane/Sailor, JRC, Furuno, KVH, just to mention same of them. One of the best brands in the market is Sailor. In the video from Maserati we can observe the presence of a bigger antenna, maybe a Sailor500 FleetBroadband, and for redundancy a smaller antenna maybe a Sailor150/Sailor250.
Today telecommunications at sea can already offer the possibility to be always connected, but the increasing demand of bandwidth is forcing the market players to find new solutions. Some of the technologies that are shaping the market are: 1) Ka bandwidth availability using the future Inmarsat GX service, 2) Spot beams services (e.g.: Intelsat Epic), 3) Consolidation of suppliers (e.g.: Cobhan acquisition of Thrane&Thrane), 4) Evolution in multiple access technologies (e.g.: CRMA), 5) Evolution in antennas technologies (e.g.: flat VSAT antennas, C/Ku band antennas like the KVH V11).
How you imagine communications at sea in 10 years?