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Connecting the dots of onboard connectivity

Updated: Nov 25

(Article originally published by superyachttechnologynews.com)


Ryan Porter, Co-Owner of YOT Store shared with Superyacht Technology News his thoughts about connecting the dots of onboard connectivity.  For an in-depth discussion – read on…


Q: Internet access is not only critical for operational reasons but also for the crew to keep in touch with their friends and families. How is the use of V Sat penetrating the smaller boat market?


The vast majority, if not all, of yachts, have a VSAT antenna and would be connected to a VSAT service. I would say that is the least preferred WAN currently compared to 4G-Marina Wi-Fi and a shore connection. The high latency of 600ms kills the experience, plus the outrageous cost for such a small amount of bandwidth is frustrating in 2020. Still, a geostationary VSAT link is the only option for vessels that want to be connected to the internet while travelling outside of the cellular footprint- there isn’t currently an alternative option.


Q: What exciting developments are happening in the world of onboard AVIT just now?

1) Wi-Fi 6 


 Wi-Fi 6 will introduce a significant difference to your onboard wireless networks with speeds up to 4 times faster than the past generations Wi-Fi equipment. It will bring reduced latency, higher reliability, and a seamless handover between access points. With higher performance for mobile devices, Wi-Fi 6 will improve the user experience across the entire wireless landscape. Wi-Fi 6 also offers enhanced security, with WPA3 and improved interference mitigation providing a better quality of experience. Part of the technology behind Wi-Fi 6 and 5G is OFDMA.


What is OFDMA?


The core technologies behind Wi-Fi 6 and 5G are both based on orthogonal frequency division multiple access (OFDMA) technology, which originated from LTE. Quite simply, OFDMA is a type of frequency-division multiplexing that is able to use subcarriers more efficiently when it comes to transporting data. Previously, when using Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiplexing (OFDM), each user got a one-time slot or a whole bandwidth channel. Users needed to wait in line before they were able to deliver their packets. As more clients joined, it took longer for packets to be delivered, resulting in lag time and people waiting to transport data.


OFDMA provides a more regular and consistent packet delivery, and users don’t have to wait as long. Here’s another way to put it. With OFDM, any time a user would request a data packet, it would essentially send out one truck to meet each request of that single user, which isn’t very efficient. OFDMA is different in that it can act as a single truck that can deliver data packets to individual users, all in one round. This way is far more efficient and takes less time.


Cisco Wi-Fi 6 products use OFDMA. As a result, your network will be significantly faster, and your users will have a better and smoother Wi-Fi experience. The leading Wi-Fi 6 Cisco products are from the Cisco 9100 Catalyst range, which has pioneered the wireless technology and would suit any yacht looking to upgrade their wired and wireless network for an upcoming refit. What’s not to like about a faster, reliable seamless connectivity throughout your vessel? Wi-Fi 6 will pave the way for future wireless technology.


Q:        What are the best options for vessels that do not want to install V Sat?


For any vessel looking to improve their internet connectivity, I believe I have the recipe for success with a robust 4G-LTE-LTEA-5G /Wi-Fi solution. This solution is a result of my own personal experiences taking on numerous vessels, seeing many disasters and having to repair them all.

With some consultation with experts in this field, I’ve put together a set of techniques to give your yacht the best chance of maximising the throughput of modems. There are various options on how you may wish to configure your WANs, but if you follow this principle, you won’t go far wrong.