On Board and Online – Importance of on board connectivity for Seafarers


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On Board and Online explores the importance of connectivity and communication in the lives of seafarers and how they contribute to their overall happiness while at sea.

Life at sea is often marked by extended periods of isolation, far away from family, friends, and familiar surroundings. In such situations, connectivity and communication become essential for maintaining the well-being and happiness of seafarers. 

What is the importance of on board and online connectivity for seafarers?

Seafarers spend weeks or even months at sea, isolated from modern conveniences. Reliable internet connectivity becomes essential in such isolation. Staying connected with loved ones through emails, social media, or video calls serves as a lifeline for them, offering a crucial connection to the outside world. This connection is vital for maintaining their well-being and sense of belonging while they are away from home.

Moreover, connectivity is not only essential for personal communication but also for professional purposes. Access to online resources, weather updates, navigation tools, and communication with the shore-based team are crucial for ensuring the smooth operation of the vessel. Reliable internet connectivity enables seafarers to perform their duties efficiently and safely, contributing to their job satisfaction and overall happiness. It not only allows them to stay connected with their loved ones but also empowers them with the necessary tools and information required for their work at sea. This dual aspect of connectivity, both personal and professional, plays a significant role in enhancing the well-being and contentment of seafarers during their time away from home.

What are the challenges in accessing reliable internet services at sea?

Despite the undeniable importance of connectivity, seafarers often face challenges in accessing reliable internet services while at sea. Technical limitations, remote locations, and cost constraints can hinder their ability to stay connected. The vastness of the ocean and the remoteness of many maritime routes make it difficult to maintain a stable internet connection. Additionally, the high cost of satellite internet services can be prohibitive for many seafarers and shipping companies. These challenges not only affect seafarers’ personal communication but also impact their ability to access vital professional resources, weather updates, and navigation tools necessary for safe and efficient operations at sea. Addressing these challenges and improving access to affordable and reliable internet connectivity is essential for enhancing the well-being and job satisfaction of seafarers during their time away from home.

What is being done to address these connectivity issues at sea?

To tackle the challenges of connectivity at sea, ship owners and maritime organizations are increasingly investing in satellite communication systems and onboard Wi-Fi networks. They are investing in advanced satellite communication systems such as VSAT (Very Small Aperture Terminal), Fleet Broadband, Iridium, and Inmarsat. These systems provide reliable internet access, allowing seafarers to stay connected with their families and access essential online resources.

Many ship owners are installing onboard Wi-Fi networks that enable seamless internet connectivity for crew members. These networks allow seafarers to use their own devices to access the internet and communicate with loved ones.

Upgrading onboard infrastructure to support better connectivity, including the installation of high-speed internet equipment and reliable communication systems.

Supporting regulatory initiatives aimed at improving connectivity at sea and ensuring that shipowners comply with standards for providing adequate internet access to seafarers. By providing reliable internet connectivity, these systems allow seafarers to stay connected with their families and friends, easing the feeling of isolation during long voyages.

What are the satellite communication systems commonly used on board ships?

VSAT (Very Small Aperture Terminal): VSAT systems provide high-speed broadband internet access via satellite. They offer continuous connectivity and can support various applications such as internet browsing, email, video conferencing, and access to online resources.

FleetBroadband: FleetBroadband systems provide reliable voice and data communication services, including internet access, email, and voice calls. They offer global coverage and are suitable for both maritime voice and broadband data communication.

Iridium: Iridium satellite communication systems provide global coverage and are often used as backup communication systems on ships. They offer voice and data communication services, including internet access, email, and messaging.

Inmarsat: Inmarsat offers a range of satellite communication services for maritime use, including Fleet Xpress, Fleet One, FleetBroadband, and Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) services. These systems provide voice and data communication services, internet access, and safety communication features.


In today’s interconnected world, connectivity is indispensable for the happiness and well-being of seafarers. Reliable internet services and effective communication channels not only facilitate personal connections but also enhance professional collaboration and job satisfaction. As the maritime industry continues to evolve, prioritizing the connectivity needs of seafarers is essential for ensuring their happiness and overall quality of life at sea. Investing in satellite communication systems, onboard Wi-Fi networks, and support services such as crew welfare programs and mental health support is crucial. These initiatives address the challenges of connectivity at sea and improve the well-being of seafarers during their time away from home.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs)

How is the internet provided on ships?

One of the primary methods through which ships access the internet is via satellite communication. Specialized satellite systems orbiting the Earth enable vessels to establish a connection to the internet, even when they are hundreds of miles away from the nearest landmass. These satellite systems provide global coverage, allowing ships to stay connected regardless of their location on the open seas. 

Satellite communication works by transmitting data signals between the ship’s onboard satellite communication equipment and satellites in orbit around the Earth.

These satellites act as relays, transferring data between the ship and ground-based internet infrastructure. As a result, sailors can access the internet, send emails, make video calls, and access online resources, even when they are far from shore.

What type of network is used in ships?

The Local Area Network (LAN) on board ships can be connected to external resources like the internet through a router or satellite link. There are two main types of LANs used on ships: wired and wireless. Wired LANs, the more traditional option, use physical cables to connect devices to the central hub.

This setup ensures reliable and secure connections between devices and allows for efficient data transfer. Wireless LANs, on the other hand, use radio waves to connect devices, offering more flexibility and mobility on board. However, wired LANs are often preferred for their stability and reliability, especially in the maritime environment where connectivity is crucial for the smooth operation of the vessel and the well-being of the crew.

How do you get internet at sea?

When you’re at sea, staying connected to the internet is crucial, and there are several options available to achieve this. One of the most reliable methods is through global broadband satellite services. You can choose from various devices that operate on established networks such as  Iridium or Inmarsat.

These networks offer unmatched global coverage, ensuring that no matter how long you’re on the ocean, you can stay connected with ease. Whether you need to access emails, make video calls, or stay updated with the latest news, global broadband satellite services provide a reliable and efficient solution for internet access while at sea.

What is the fastest maritime internet? 

Starlink stands out as the fastest maritime internet provider, delivering high-speed, low-latency internet with up to 220 Mbps download speed while at sea.

How many bands are used in satellite?

Commonly used satellites bands are the L-band, S-band, C-band, X-band, Ku-band, K-band, and Ka-band.

Which satellite band is commonly used on ships?

Ku-Band is used for most VSAT systems on ships. There is much more bandwidth available in Ku -Band and it is less expensive than C or L-band. The main disadvantage of Ku-Band is rain fade. The wavelength of rain drops coincides with the wavelength of Ku-Band causing the signal to be attenuated during rain showers.

Ku-band satellite antennas are smaller than C-band antennas, but they are susceptible to rain fading during heavy rainfall (their signals can be affected by rain absorption). Ku-band is commonly used for broadcast and VSAT (Very Small Aperture Terminal) systems on ships and vessels.

Must read article – Problems faced by seafarers


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