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MTN to Re-Invent Onboard Internet and Digital Offerings – Installing Port-Based WiFi

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Errol Olivier, CEOMTN Satellite Communications (MTN) is introducing a major new product initiative – MTN Nexus – that will reinvent at-sea communications for passengers and crew alike.

MTN Nexus is the company’s next-generation communications network. It is a hybrid network that builds on satellite connectivity and integrates it with new terrestrial wireless technologies as well as sophisticated computing, powerful processing and specialized optimization. The network integrates VSAT satellite connectively with land-based wireless networks.

MTN is launching a new satellite through IntelSat in 2015 that will deliver strong spot beams to the Caribbean and Mediterranean (which will come three months later) – meaning better signals for internet, TV and mobile service.

MTN also has created its High Throughput Multi-Spot Beam solution to extend Intelsat Epic. Through MTN HTMS, vessels will be able to seamlessly roam between MTN HTMS beams and conventional Ku-beams. This will ensure global coverage and redundancy while reducing cost and antenna complexities.

MTN service will remain backward-compatible with existing Ku-band satellite systems, current network infrastructure and customer-preferred network topology, making it the most interoperable network available

But the company isn’t stopping there, as it is also about optimizing everything onboard, said Errol Olivier, president and CEO, MTN, in an exclusive interview with Cruise Industry News.

Thus, MTN has already and will continue to install port-based WiFi networks in some 39 ports by the end of the first quarter in 2013. Ships will be able to seamlessly switch off the satellite to the port network, thus giving more bandwidth back to ships at sea.

Olivier described the port WiFi systems as major infrastructure that is requiring a significant investment from MTN.

As far as the driving factors? Demand, he said, and that current VSAT solutions, just giving the ships more and more bandwidth, was just putting a bandage on the problem.

Port networks will also allow the ship to “download” the latest and greatest of the internet – Netflix, YouTube videos, Facebook updates and more – caching that information for passengers to view and not strain the satellites when the ship is at sea.

Nexus is the result of packaging together a number of services, those being satellite connections, terrestrial WiFi and the ship cloud.

The platform will also offer an API for developers and cruise lines to bring in their own applications, with Olivier adding that in the future, alongside internet packages, passengers may be able to buy stand-alone Facebook packages.

MTN ShipCloud is the integrated shoreside and shipboard platform that will build on the MTN Nexus hybrid network to support higher-demand onboard applications. Leveraging cloud computing technology, MTN ShipCloud will deliver powerful processing and caching of data and content. MTN ShipCloud is designed to decrease time and costs associated with at-sea applications, delivering a better end-user experience.

Furthermore, non-MTN ships will be able to run a Nexus platform with their existing satellite providers, if they wish.

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