If you read our last blog post, Vessel Internet Bandwidth: Are you Addicted?, you understand the difference between on land and on board bandwidth speeds.
You also know that after a certain point, no amount of money will improve your on board Internet speed.
However, there are some things you can do right now to improve your vessel Internet connection's performance. Although bandwidth speeds will never reach those of your home or office on land, these techniques will let you use what you've got more efficiently and effectively.
1. Monitor your bandwidth use.
Even with the fastest possible connection, bandwidth demand will likely always exceed supply. That is why it is very important for vessels to have a way to monitor and manage bandwidth use.
Monitoring bandwidth lets network administrators see which users and which applications are using up bandwidth. Is it a high paying charter guest streaming a World Cup soccer match, or is it a stewardess downloading The Hobbit in HD?
How bandwidth monitoring works.
Typically, Captains set Internet policies for their vessels. In addition, Captains often use bandwidth monitoring to insure policy compliance among the crew.
A bandwidth monitoring system can automatically generate usage reports to let the Captain or ETO determine if any crew members are violating vessel Internet policy. In this way, bandwidth monitoring assists with enforcing yacht Internet policies without requiring anyone to babysit the crew.
2. Manage your bandwidth allocation.
Bandwidth monitoring lets you observe real-time vessel Internet usage as well as usage over any time period. Top Lists can reveal the biggest bandwidth hogs and can list items such as:
The bandwidth monitoring system can also notify crew and shore-side managers when the Internet is down. Alerts can be automatically sent by email or text, depending upon the parameters set in the system.
Bandwidth management allows you to create rules to control which Internet traffic is allowed and by whom. It also lets you set priorities among users (e.g. the Captain vs. deckhands) and classes of users (e.g. guests vs. crew).
Some bandwidth management solutions even let you use more than one Internet connection simultaneously. For instance, you can couple the vessels VSAT system with a shore-side 4G connection.
How bandwidth management works.
Traffic shaping is a key component of Internet bandwidth management. Traffic refers to Internet activity, including email, website browsing and Skype phone calls. Shaping has to do with controlling the types of traffic allowed on the system and setting priorities between individual users and traffic types.
Traffic shaping comes in different forms:
- URL shaping boosts or limits bandwidth allocated to a specific website. For instance, the yachts Captain and IT Manager may allow crew to access Facebook, but can give it a low priority in relation to other bandwidth uses.
Application shaping limits or boosts bandwidth allocation depending upon the protocol used (i.e. HTTP protocol when using a website, POP or IMAP protocol when downloading email or VOIP protocol).
Policy-based shaping defines policies for individual users or groups of users. You can specify the maximum bandwidth or burst rate allocated to an individual or group. Or you can set up priorities among users so that the highest priority individual or group always takes precedence over the others.
Policy-based shaping gives network administrators granular control over bandwidth resources. You can grant specific groups of users priority over other users for access to Internet bandwidth. This lets the system favor priority users, preventing background processes from crippling the system.
On a typical yacht, you might group users as follows:
Owner Priority 1
Guests Prority 2
Select Crew (Department Heads) Priority 3
Remaining Crew Priority 4
Update Servers Priority 5
Devices that continually access the vessel's Internet, such as servers downloading updates and video distribution systems downloading content, can use up all available bandwidth if they are not regulated.
Is there one device that will monitor and manage your yacht Internet bandwidth?
It performs all the functions outlined in this article and also acts as a fully stateful firewall with layer-7 packet inspection. The firewall is policy-based, so you can manage it with a simple or complex rule structure.
For more informationabout the NAS3000 Optimizer, click the gray button below, or click the green button to speak to a NAS3000 specialist.