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Carnival and SES Set New Bandwidth Capacity Record at Sea

By Kendall Russell | February 26, 2018
The Regal Princess cruise vessel. Photo: Regal Princess.

The Regal Princess cruise vessel. Photo: Princess Cruises.

Carnival established a new industry apex in connectivity capabilities at sea today. Using its newly developed connectivity service, MedallionNet, and working with SES Networks, Carnival and Princess Cruises achieved the most bandwidth ever delivered to a mobile platform, verifying during a demonstration 2.25 Gbps and a peak of 2.6 Gpbs. The record attempt was meant to demonstrate that connectivity is no longer a limitation to cruise vacations.

Via Satellite’s editorial director Mark Holmes was on site as an industry authenticator and was able to sit down with Steve Collar, SES’ Chief Executive Officer (CEO), to discuss the details of MedallionNet and what its significance is for the industry:


Regal Princess is currently stationed off Princess Cays, one of the brand’s private island destinations, located on the southern tip of the island of Eleuthera in the outer Bahamas. A bandwidth capacity of 1.5 Gbps will give guests Wi-Fi access that equates to more than 6,000 users concurrently surfing the internet, or 1,500 Netflix or Hulu subscribers streaming TV shows or movies. Collar told Via Satellite that the aim of MedallionNet is to provide a “frictionless” experience for consumers, with wireless connectivity similar to speeds at home.

According to a study conducted last year by Ookla, an internet speed test company, the average U.S. fixed broadband download speed was 64.17 Mbps in the first half of 2017, while the average upload speed was 22.79 Mbps. MedallionNet download speeds can thus exceed residential service levels, often eclipsing 100 Mbps, with upload speeds exceeding 60 Mbps, according to Carnival.

“You can get more done, actually, when you’re away at sea than on land, which is pretty incredible and not something you could have said about satellite a couple of years ago,” Collar said.

The system leverages multi-band antennas to minimize any potential impact to guest connectivity due to seasonal weather or ship positioning, while fusing multi-orbit satellite bandwidth.

“That takes a lot more than just concerns about satellites, that takes also a whole lot of networking and a bunch of skill sets that weren’t necessarily present in the satellite industry not that long ago and they are a fundamental part of our success,” Collar added.

“This event gives us the opportunity to demonstrate that guests can have connected experience that parallels land-based Wi-Fi, making it exceptionally easy for our guests to share photos, videos and messages about their fabulous vacation. Cruise vacations are already the fastest growing segment of the vacation sector, and eliminating any connectivity barriers will make cruise vacations even more desirable,” said John Padgett, chief experience and innovation officer for Carnival.