Growing cruiseship traffic volumes will drive demand for more polar bandwidth

Wednesday 31, August 2022

Research by Marlink shows that the future evolution of Non-Geostationary Satellite connectivity services will support increasing market demands in the polar regions

Oslo and Paris, 31 August 2022. Marlink, the smart network solutions company, has published a report on the current status and future outlook for satellite capacity and connectivity based on vessel activity in the polar regions. The report examines vessel demand in the context of the post-pandemic bounceback and includes data and insights from industry experts on how the market will evolve in the medium term.

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

A post-COVID bounceback in cruise passengers is predicted in Arctic cruising, with forecast data for Norwegian domestic cruise traffic in 2022 predicting an increase compared to actual numbers in 2019. International cruise operators may start sending more conventional ships to the region as they seek to expand sailing schedules and fill passenger berths.

The trend towards more leisure traffic will see additional growth in bandwidth demand, with large ‘floating village’ cruise ships consuming more Ka-, Ku- and C-band satellite capacity with some also adopting non-geostationary (NGSO) services once they become available. Expedition cruise operators with itineraries above 80 degrees latitude north will likely pursue a strategy focussed on NGSO services with L-band back-up, the report finds.

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

The report includes an overview of the polar/ice class fleet and its growth prospects, sample AIS data on vessel traffic in polar regions, cruise port calls to Norway inside the Arctic Circle, a summary of the available polar connectivity options and a comparison of the comprehensive ‘network of networks’ delivered by Marlink.

The scale of the polar connectivity challenge is considerable but so is the opportunity and we think that the situation could change quickly from scarce bandwidth to fresh capacity that will support safer operations and higher frequency of reporting, said President, Maritime, Marlink, Tore Morten Olsen. A single connectivity system is never going to be a complete solution for our customers’ requirements; all available networks are required to optimise opportunities and meet these fast-changing needs.

About Marlink

Marlink is the trusted partner in fully managed smart network solutions, based on an intelligent hybrid network and unrivalled digital solutions.

The company provides Smart Network Solutions, connecting people and assets around the globe and across all markets where conventional connectivity cannot reach or is not available. Marlink’s Intelligent Hybrid Network combines global satcom and terrestrial technologies via a proprietary global infrastructure.

The Marlink Smart Edge, an integrated service delivery platform, orchestrates and optimises all network elements and applications, from data handling and IT to application-based routing (SD Wan), cloud and Digital Solutions, including remote data and ITcyber security as well as IoT/OT solutions.

This provides customers with full ‘Peace of Mind’ that their chosen network solution is fully optimised, integrated and has the security required to operate more profitably and sustainably, increasing their efficiency and safety through operational optimisation, tracking and routing, monitoring and reporting.

Marlink’s Smart Network Solutions are provided as Managed Services meeting the highest quality standards and service level agreements. The company proactively monitors and supports network solutions, providing alerts, reporting and insights on performance and usage of connectivity, systems, and applications as well as advice and consultancy on how to further optimise customer networks.