Tue. Oct 3rd, 2023
SpaceX and SES Partner to Provide High-Speed Broadband to Cruise Operators

SpaceX and SES have joined forces to offer cruise operators an integrated broadband service that promises up to 3 Gbps of capacity per ship. The service, called SES Cruise mPowered + Starlink, will primarily use SpaceX’s low Earth orbit (LEO) network and SES’s medium Earth orbit (MEO) satellites. In areas where there is no coverage, SES will utilize its geostationary satellites. SES will be responsible for selling and managing the multi-orbit service, with SpaceX receiving a portion of the sales.

Gregory Martin, the Vice President of Product Management for Maritime Products at SES, stated that the Luxembourg-based operator will also provide software to optimize data traffic. Martin mentioned that SES currently serves five out of the top six cruise lines, all of which are either using or testing Starlink services. Despite the partnership, both Starlink and SES will still have the option to independently sell standalone connectivity to the cruise market.

According to Martin, cruise operators will likely have multiple connections on their ships, and SES aims to assist in managing this by working together with Starlink. The service will be offered in two tiers: Pro at 1.5 Gbps per ship and Premium at 3 Gbps. Martin noted that currently, only a few cruise ships have access to speeds close to 1.5 Gbps, and the joint offering will enable them to double their throughput at a competitive price.

There are no plans at the moment to develop a user terminal that can connect directly to Starlink and SES. The Pro tier will require 10 Starlink high throughput flat terminals, while the Premium tier will need 18. In addition, both tiers will require two to three terminals for SES in MEO.

SES CEO Roy Pinto expressed openness to replicating the partnership with SpaceX in selective opportunities, markets, or geographies.