On the lookout for a connectivity solution fit for their prestigious yacht and other marine customers, Voyager IP sets sail with ARCUS and discovers premium yacht connectivity.
Based on the east coast of Ireland, close to the country’s major ports, Voyager IP specialises in the design, installation, configuration, and management of all on-board communication systems, from VSAT, cellular to local area Wi-Fi, for marine use.
Voyager IP is bringing a fresh approach to old issues frequently encountered in the business, by partnering with some of the best technology partners out there, to upgrade and transform existing maritime internet and telecommunications solutions.
When it comes to connectivity, yacht owners and operators care about three things: speed, cost, and coverage wherever they go, which can be any number of international destinations. Yachting is high visibility, so yachts tend to be close to shore in exclusive areas, but they also regularly travel in and out of cellular range and depend on satellite connectivity, too. The ideal yacht connectivity solution should provide for a seamless handover between carriers and cell towers as the yacht is cruising.
In contrast, the multi-WAN solutions to be found on the yachts of many prospective customers are frequently underwhelming in terms of performance. Even though some of the existing solutions are imperfect, as in any business sector, “inertia together with the attitude of ‘better the devil you know’ is hard to shift, with a debilitating effect on end user satisfaction,” says Voyager IP’s managing director Mark Elliott. He understands the reluctance of some customers to move to newer and better solutions not yet well known, but he wants to challenge the status quo, and his goal is to give customers a compelling reason to make that move. It is why the company is focused on delivering solutions that are a cut or two above the rest without breaking the bank.
Voyager IP was introduced to Celerway technology by a partner. They liked what they saw but wanted to put ARCUS, Celerway’s flagship mobile router, to the test. “ARCUS looked great on paper, but we wanted to use it in a real-world scenario, the kind that’s rarely ideal,” said Elliott. “If ARCUS performed as described in the spec sheet, we’d have solid and compelling proof of a superior alternative for our yacht customers.”
The Voyager IP team set up ARCUS on a 44-metre Timmerman yacht positioned on the west coast of Italy near Livorno (about 78 kilometres west of Florence). ARCUS is a ruggedized multi-WAN router with up to three integrated cellular modems and can combine cellular with satellite. The team equipped ARCUS with three SIM cards from two providers to demonstrate the router’s resilience. The overall cellular solution also included a Stella Doradus voice/data repeater and Poynting omnidirectional antennas.
To simulate the activity of a full complement of crew, owners, and guests, the team connected the yacht’s internal network and all onboard equipment to ARCUS, running multiple simultaneous Apple TV streams in HD. The HD streams were flawless. Elliott reports that ARCUS did deliver it what the spec sheet said, and more.
One of the beauties of ARCUS is diversity.
Following the stationary tests, the next step was to observe the performance of ARCUS in the more challenging scenario of an international voyage. At cruising speeds of 8 to 12 knots, the Timmerman made its way from Italy to Turkey, while the yacht transits the coastline. All the while, ARCUS delivered constant connectivity within the extended cellular service range. There were no dropouts or disconnections during handover between cell towers and network operators, and no impact on user experience.
“One of the beauties of ARCUS is diversity,” says Richard McGrath, Operations Manager at Voyager IP. “In Turkey, where cellular options are limited, we used SIMs from two local providers and one global SIM. This ensured that there was always at least one cellular module with a very strong and high-quality signal, providing connectivity.”
A superior end-user experience is not the only key outcome. Yacht management information, such as engine management data, must be transmitted regularly to central operations when the yacht is within range of strong cellular signals. Yacht management can rest assured that with ARCUS, such important and time-sensitive data is sent and received promptly.
The extraordinary performance of ARCUS for both onboard experience and yacht management is due to Celerway’s mobile-first approach and ability to extract maximum benefit from cellular data networks while managing their unpredictability. Other features unique to Celerway technology include:
ARCUS performed exactly as advertised, giving us a superior solution for our yacht customers.
“Many vendors put ideal performance specs on their datasheets, and everyone knows that real-world performance is going to be substantially less,” says Elliott. “Not Celerway. ARCUS performed exactly as advertised, giving us a superior solution for our yacht customers.”
The broad applicability Elliott was seeking and has found in ARCUS is relevant, not only to yachts, but to many other cases of marine use. What’s more, McGrath says that yacht connectivity is one of the toughest end-user cases around. “Yachts tend to visit out-of-the-way places, like small islands in the Caribbean or off the coast of Italy, where cellular coverage is spotty. Other modes of transport, like road vehicles, often involve areas where cellular infrastructure is built up.”
Celerway has always been a “mobile-first” company, designing its entire portfolio with mobile in mind, whereas many other router vendors have had to go back to the drawing board and reengineer their products to accommodate new cellular technologies. For yachting today, 3G and 4G are most prevalent, but ARCUS is available with up to two integrated backward-compatible 5G modems, making it a future-proofed yacht connectivity solution as 5G proliferates in the near term.