Updated: Sep 5
A lot of people are talking but they don’t know what they are talking about. I will use layman’s term and be truly short.
First, 5G will be available in Mediterranean in 2023, it will start in 2021 but you will fully benefit for season 2023, so why investing now in equipments that will not catch proper network. Second, 5G is using 3 bands:
One for IoT, not relevant for the purpose of maritime.
One for extremely high speed, the promise of extremely fast internet on a mobile device, but distance from the station should be short, so maritime cannot benefit from it;
One for regular connectivity as of today with 4G++, I will describe later.
We have the chance in Sophia Antipolis to be at the heart of the European Telecom Valley, with the European Telecommunication Standard Institue having its HQ there. A lot of companies are working in the field. I have been Telecom Valley President when I was working for telcos prior founding SeaSatCom. I know this world and the technologies behind, and I am still in touch with this community and the researchers in the field already working on 6G. Today you can benefit of high-speed internet with 4G connectivity. You have several frequencies and categories associated to various equipment (modems or gateways). I have chosen to work with Peplink for one simple reason, they are at the forefront of the technology with a large variety of products to meet different needs and configurations. We are Peplink certified for maritime (mPCE). They also have a worldwide network so you can always find a solution when remote assistance cannot work. Last but not least, they have a full proposal providing a complete local network, not only Pepwave modems. They produce switches, routers, access points, etc. All using the same easy to use web interface and remote connectivity for assistance when cruising. Perhaps I will do a more detailed article to explain all benefits of Peplink infrastructure on board a vessel later on. Let’s come back to pure connectivity and 4G. You are familiar with 4G (LTE) and 4G+ (LTE-A where A stands for Advanced) the second generation of 4G. You also have now available what I will call 4G++, the third generation with the same networks which are available today, it is called LTE-A Pro. Speed with :
4G goes up to 150Mbps (Mega bit per seconds), called Category 4 in our jargon;
4G+ goes up to 450Mbps (called Category 12);
4G++ goes up to 1200Mbps (called Category 18).
4G modems need 1 x 4G antenna to work, 4G+ needs 2 x 4G antennas and 4G++ needs 4 x 4G antennas per modem. These differences explain also the difference in pricing for a modem and a 4G SIM card subscription. You cannot buy a Rolls Royce for the price of a 2CV as we say in French. I don’t want to be too technical and lose my purpose so I will not go further. Use all the potential of 4G++ and think 5G later. Bear in mind that no network will provide you such speeds on a SIM card, which is why we say up to. The good thing is that 4G++ is using more frequencies, so you catch more networks, and you can go at sea up to 50km from shore with external equipment (ie: Peplink Dome), etc. So today you can enjoy the benefit of fiber optic on board for your streaming Netflix, Prime video, PS5 gaming, My Canal, etc. It is just a question of expertise from your service provider. Of course, at SeaSatCom we do this job for more than 15 years and will be more than happy to help. Let’s be in touch +33 4 89 73 01 32 or email@example.com.