Starlink to Provide High-Speed Internet on Ships in Japan

Aug 01, 2023

Mitsui O.S.K. Lines and KDDI Corporation announced that from August 2023 onward, the two companies will conduct trial use of Starlink onboard MOL Group-operated cruise ship, ferries, and a coastal RORO vessel aimed at enhancing the communication environment aboard the vessels.

By tapping into Starlink's advanced technology, the service will offer download speeds of up to 220Mbps during voyages. This significant boost in communication speed will lead to faster and more efficient interactions between crew members and passengers, transforming the overall maritime experience. The trial phase will thoroughly assess the technical feasibility and economic viability of the service, paving the way for its implementation on various ships by autumn 2023, adapting to each vessel's unique conditions and schedule.

A crucial driver behind this initiative is the challenge posed by weak terrestrial signals in remote marine areas. While geostationary satellite communication has been traditionally used, the growing volume of information and data has made real-time communication between land and sea more complex.

The initiative particularly addresses the demands of crew members who seek high-speed internet connectivity similar to what they enjoy on land. Bridging the information gap between land and sea enhances their working conditions. Additionally, passengers on cruise ships and ferries also clamor for high-speed internet access to enrich their travel experience.

Four vessels—namely, the cruise ship "Nippon Maru" operated by Mitsui O.S.K. Passenger Line Ltd., the ferries "Sunflower Sapporo" and "Sunflower Satsuma" operated by Mitsui O.S.K. Ferry Ltd., and the RoRo ship "Musashi Maru," operated by Ferry Sunflower Co., Ltd.—will be equipped with "Starlink Business," KDDI's maritime satellite broadband service. During the initial trial phase, the service will be assessed by crew members and employees. Subsequently, based on the outcomes, the possibility of expanding the trial to customers will be explored.

KDDI's Starlink service boasts a remarkable maximum download speed of 220Mbps during sea voyages, mirroring onshore internet usage and granting easy access to crucial navigation information.

The advantages of high-speed communication extend to passengers on cruise ships and ferries, enabling them to share real-time videos and other content while traveling.

Preliminary trials conducted on international ships under the Mitsui O.S.K. Lines group have demonstrated up to 50-fold improvements in communication speeds compared to existing facilities.