The Yacht Technology Blog

A Yacht VSAT Primer

Posted by Darren Mayhead on Mar 28, 2013 12:36:00 PM


yacht_vsatYou’re probably familiar with VSAT and its prevalence in modern at-sea yacht communications. You know that the satellite antenna topping many yachts is related to Internet connectivity.


But what exactly is VSAT? And what should you consider when choosing the best VSAT configuration to serve your yacht guests and crew?





What is yacht VSAT? 

yacht_vsat_diagramVSAT stands for “very small aperture terminal” and is used for yacht communications because it works even when the yacht is changing locations.


The ability of marine stabilized antennas to work in situations where one point is constantly moving makes VSAT a reliable technology for yacht computer and voice communications.


The above-deck equipment (ADE) includes a stabilized maritime VSAT antenna with a dish typically between .5 and 2.5 meters in diameter. This in turn communicates with below-deck equipment (BDE)--consisting of a modem and router--for data distribution to the on board computer network. 


The on board VSAT system connects with a satellite in geosynchronous orbit. It transmits and receives data to different earth-based terminals, providing reliable access to wireless broadband--even in remote locations. 




How do guests and crew use yacht VSAT? 

electronic_devices_on_yachtsVSAT can process voice, data and video signals. Users receive information when it is downloaded from the satellite to the VSAT antenna and then—often over on board Wi-Fi—to user devices such as tablets, laptops, phones and TVs.


Users’ information is sent when it is uploaded from user devices—often over Wi-Fi—to the satellite through the VSAT antenna, then transferred to the land earth station (LES) and distributed via the land networks.







What are yacht VSAT’s limitations? 

nas3000_internet_bandwidth_optimizerBandwidth is the speed at which data is transmitted. On board VSAT speed, which is expressed in kilobits, megabits and gigabits per second (Kbps, Mbps and Gbps), is limited by available bandwidth. Bandwidth packages are typically written as download x upload speed (or download/upload), such as 2Mbps x 1Mbps.


Applications that require a great deal of bandwidth can slow the speeds experienced by each individual user, especially when many individuals attempt to use computer and voice devices simultaneously. But bandwidth optimizing devices, such as the NAS300 Optimizer, can alleviate this problem by allocating bandwidth to specific users or applications using predetermined criteria.


A bandwidth optimizing device can also combine the bandwidth of VSAT, WiFi, and GSM, if all three are available. This combined bandwidth may be shared by all users on board, or different Internet connections can be reserved for specific users or subnets on the network.




How can you determine your VSAT needs?

mtn_vsatYou have decided to add a yacht VSAT system, so now what? According to MTN Satellite Communications, a leading international yacht VSAT provider, you should first identify typical usage scenarios when determining  your on board bandwidth needs for guests and crew.


For instance:


  • How many individuals want to access the Internet simultaneously?

  • Are users accessing applications with high bandwidth requirements, such as streaming audio or video?

  • Is there a particular time of day when the Internet connection will be most frequently used? 




Evaluating your answers.

The answers to these questions will help you better evaluate on board needs and manage the network accordingly. You may even decide to upgrade your bandwidth plan with optional bandwidth increases and value-added services for your guests.


MTN suggests that you share your answers with your VSAT provider. Together, you can evaluate your needs and compare them with the actual services being delivered. Consider options for temporary bandwidth upgrades and bandwidth prioritization, for example, to most effectively meet your varying needs.


To learn more about how to assess your yacht's bandwidth needs, download your free 2-page document: Questions to Ask When Assessing Your Yacht's Bandwidth Needs--AND--How to Calculate Your On Board Bandwidth Needs. Simply click on the red button below.



Download Bandwidth Evaluation






Topics: vessel communications, vessel internet, marine vsat

JD_Crawford_head_shotDarren and the GCS team have been instrumental in the development and deployment of several carrier grade IT networks for large scale, Savant-based super-yacht projects where the technology infrastructure needed to be extremely reliable. 


The capabilities of the GCS team have proven instrumental in helping us deliver a world class technology experience to some of the most prestigious yachts in the world.


J.D. Crawford of Savant Systems


I have been working with Great Circle Systems since 2006 when they did the installation of all our networking and Internet communications equipment on our boat being built in Germany.


The equipment they recommended and installed was exactly as we required.  We have had extremely good results with all of their equipment and it has performed as they had advised.


I would highly recommend them to all fellow captains.


Captain Keith T. Moore of M/Y Lady Sheridan

CE_W_Michael_Hummel_of_MY_TVTriton Administrator has proven to be the perfect tool for us on M/Y TV, which is a 78 meter Luerssen yacht.


Triton has comprehensive essential features plus any additional features one can possibly need. It is still easy to use and has a swift support team to implement customer-specific wishes, such as individual day logs, etc.


W. Michael Hummel, Chief Engineer of M/Y TV


Captain Bruno Herregods talks about Great Circle Systems tech support. 

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