As commercial shipping has become increasingly reliant on broadband connectivity – for everything from remote diagnostics of the engine room to over-the-air navigational chart updates– a corresponding need is emerging for tools to manage the resource of broadband on board a vessel.
To meet that need, KVH has introduced TracPhone V7-IP, a new satellite communications antenna system that includes a built-in CommBox Network Manager for keeping all networked data flowing smoothly and efficiently to and from the vessel, no matter where the ship may be voyaging. The antenna system was developed specifically for KVH’s mini-VSAT Broadband network, the world’s most extensive Ku-band maritime VSAT network.
One of the most innovative aspects of the new TracPhone V7-IP is its completely integrated – and extremely streamlined – belowdecks unit, which includes ArcLight spread spectrum modem and KVH’s breakthrough IP-enabled antenna control unit – the CommBox-ACU. The CommBox-ACU includes built-in CommBox Network Manager, Voice over IP (VoIP) adapter, Ethernet switch, and WiFi capabilities. The TracPhone V7-IP’s modem/CommBox-ACU unit is a sleek 3U (rack unit of height), or about 5.25 inches high.
This streamlined belowdecks unit stands in stark contrast to the unwieldy stack of components typical of many onboard SATCOM and network management solutions that combine discrete components – modems, antennas, controllers, switches, adapters, and servers – from a number of different manufacturers.
The CommBox-ACU innovation is possible because KVH is the only end-to-end solution in maritime SATCOM, and therefore able to develop improvements for the entire solution instead of individual aspects. KVH makes the antenna hardware, operates the satellite network, manages the airtime, and provides after-sale support.
The company will be showcasing the new TracPhone V7-IP as well as the new CommBox-ACU and the mini-VSAT Broadband service during a Sep. 5 SATCOM Technology Update at the Shipbuilding, Machinery, and Marine Technology (SMM) international trade fair in Hamburg, Germany.
“The TracPhone V7-IP represents a significant leap forward in delivering fast, affordable, reliable broadband connectivity to maritime customers,” explains Martin Kits van Heyningen, KVH’s chief executive officer, who will lead the SATCOM Technology Update at SMM. “It offers a complete end-to-end solution for managing both IT functions and communications on board the vessel.”
For example, creating unique onboard networks for operational vs. crew Internet and e-mail access to ensure that important operational data is given priority on the network is a major reason that commercial vessels need a network management solution as part of their always-on broadband service.
In the last five years, KVH has built the mini-VSAT Broadband network from the ground up, and introduced a series of TracPhone antenna systems to meet the needs of commercial, military, and leisure vessels of every size and type. Independent research reports recently noted that the mini-VSAT Broadband network is now the world’s No. 1 maritime VSAT network.
Advancements in maritime VSAT throughout the satellite communications industry and the role KVH has played are documented in the new publication, “Connectivity at Sea: A Guide to Advances in Maritime VSAT,” available from KVH.