European satellite operator SES has announced a partnership with SpaceX’s Starlink to offer a joint service to cruise operators called “SES Cruise mPOWERED + Starlink.” The service aims to provide high-speed and reliable internet service to cruise ships, both in port and at sea. SES CEO Ruy Pinto stated that there is unmet demand in the cruise industry that neither company can fulfill individually.
SES, based in Luxembourg, operates over 70 satellites in geosynchronous equatorial orbit (GEO) and medium Earth orbit (MEO). On the other hand, Starlink operates its satellites exclusively in low Earth orbit (LEO). SES is upgrading its MEO network with new satellites called mPOWER, with four already in operation and plans for an additional seven to be launched soon.
SpaceX, the operator of Starlink, has already launched over 5,000 satellites and has over 1.5 million customers. SES and Starlink’s joint solution will combine the capabilities of both satellite networks to provide a unique service to the market. Chad Gibbs, SpaceX Vice President of Starlink Business Operations, expressed excitement about the collaboration and the opportunity to leverage the reach and capacity of both constellations.
SES views the partnership as a way to find growth in new markets as its traditional satellite video business declines. The cruise industry is one of SES’s fastest-growing segments, generating €139 million ($149 million) in revenue during the first half of 2023, a 14% increase year-over-year. SES also considers its multi-orbit approach and collaboration with Starlink as a competitive advantage over other satellite operators.
SES stated that it is in discussions with multiple cruise customers for the joint service, but did not provide further details. Revenue will be shared between SES and SpaceX based on the usage of each service. In addition, the companies are exploring other potential markets that could benefit from their combined service offerings.
Overall, the partnership between SES and Starlink aims to address the demand for high-speed internet connectivity on cruise ships, combining the strengths of each company’s satellite networks to deliver reliable service to the cruise industry.