Solstad Offshore to trial SpaceX’s Starlink connectivity

Written by Nick Blenkey
Vessel that will trial Starlink

Solstad Offshore will be the first offshore vessel operator on the Marlink network to trial Starlink, as part of a smart hybrid solution.

Norway’s Solstad Offshore is to be one of the first offshore service vessel operators to trial SpaceX’s StarLink LEO satcom service. Back in September 2022, the company completed the migration of its fleet connectivity to Marlink, including Sealink VSAT and 4G connectivity. It is now evaluating if this should be further extended with Starlink integration.

Most satellite internet services come from single geostationary satellites that orbit the planet at 35,786 kilometers. As a result, the round trip data time between the user and satellite — or latency — is high. Starlink is a constellation of thousands of satellites that orbit the planet much closer to Earth, at about 550 kilometers, and cover the entire globe. Because Starlink satellites are in a low orbit, latency is significantly lower—around 20 ms vs 600+ ms.

Solstad offshore will use the Starlink connectivity to deliver enhanced communications for seafarers, with high speed, low latency connectivity, designed to provide an unparalleled Maximum Information Rate (MIR) performance in combination with a reliable Committed Information Rate (CIR) over VSAT, guaranteeing business critical connectivity.

Marlink says its integration of existing and emerging networks into one seamless end-to-end managed hybrid network will improve user experience, application performance, reliability, scalability and security. Solstad will also benefit from advanced network management tools, including SD-WAN application-based routing, to optimize communications and enable a higher quality user experience.

“We are delighted to be supporting the adoption of next-generation networks in the maritime offshore market through this agreement with Solstad Offshore, which is the first of its kind on the Marlink network in this sector,” said Tore Morten Olsen, president, maritime, Marlink. “The integration of new LEO capabilities with our well-established Sealink VSAT service represents a new frontier of performance for maritime customers, like Solstad, that will experience unparalleled connectivity that improve business operations and crew welfare.”

“Solstad Offshore is committed to innovation and quality in all our operations and we consider connectivity to be an important driver of value for our customers, crews and our people ashore,” said Christian Nesheim, ICT director, Solstad Offshore. “We are happy to further deepen our relationship with Marlink and have the opportunity to pilot the Starlink connectivity solutions together. Testing done on vessels in the North Sea region will give us valuable experience on the roughness and stability of the solution during the tough winter months. Following the Starlink trial we will evaluate if this should be incorporated as a supplement in the Solstad Offshore fleet, as an integrated part of our existing connectivity solutions by Marlink.”

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