Next steps to a truly connected boat

Here’s a bit of weekend thinking for you…

Reliable high speed and low cost internet access will transform maritime navigation with the ability to download charts and updates, share data with other users and supplement charting information with weather overlays.  However, internet access from the high seas or even just a few miles offshore can be prohibitively expensive with satellite communication systems hardware costing $1000’s and hefty data charges too – but two new satellite ventures involving some heavy weight players may have huge implications for maritime users

Google and SpaceX are joining forces in the space race against Facebook and Richard Branson to create a new satellite internet access system.

SpaceX has raised $1 billion from Google and Fidelity in a deal that values the spaceship manufacturer at about $10 billion, The Associated Press reported Tuesday night. This investment would help Google’s plan to bring reliable Internet access to remote areas around the world via satellites but it also helps maritime users.

space x

Just last week, Musk revealed SpaceX’s newest venture to build a network of satellites that could accelerate Internet connectivity around the world.

“Our focus is on creating a global communications system that would be larger than anything that has been talked about to date,” Musk told Bloomberg BusinessweekThe project can be expected in “sooner than five years,” with a price tag of $10 billion, according to Musk.

Google’s effort to “organize the world’s information” cannot succeed if two-thirds of the world does not have reliable access to this information. So in recent years, Google has experimented with several methods and devices to bring the Internet to unconnected, rural areas. In 2013, it launched Project Loon to send high-altitude helium balloons beaming down Wi-Fi. Last year, it acquired dronemaker Titan Aerospace for $60 million and began testing solar-powered drones to spread internet access.

“Space-based applications, like imaging satellites, can help people more easily access important information, so we’re excited to support SpaceX’s growth as it develops new launch technologies,” Google said in a statement.

Satellite industry entrepreneur Greg Wyler, who worked for Google’s space project briefly last year, has also secured funding for OneWeb, a very similar Internet-via-satellites initiative. OneWeb’s most prominent backer is Virgin’s Richard Branson.

There’s a great article from Gizmodo here on the technologies.  Whatever happens, it looks like we really are getting closer to a truly connected boat.


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