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Marlink to upgrade 27 Stena ferries

A Stena Line ferry A Stena Line ferry Stena Line

Marlink today announced that it has been contracted by Stena Line to roll out its customised Ku-band VSAT service, Sealink, on 27 ferries operating in Scandinavia, the Irish Sea and the North Sea.

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The deal, aimed at increasing bandwidth, includes equipment upgrades (antennas, modems and routers). It will allow the Swedish operator to dynamically allocate bandwidth among its ships.

Stena Line will initially have access to 25Mbit/s to meet needs from business, crew and passengers, says Marlink, adding that the long term contract covers technology which is compatible with next generation HTS (High Throughput Satellite). The VSAT provider is currently operating a test network on the next generation iDirect system including IDX 3.2 and X7, which once approved will provide further improved bandwidth throughput and service availability.

Marlink has provided communication services on Stena Line ferries since 1996. Those services are used for a variety of applications including telephony and free internet access for passengers as well as crew, operational connectivity and third party services such as on board ATM and credit card authorisation. In this area, the new solution introduces data backup via Iridium Pilot to ensure payments are completed as usual.

Marlink says that the upgraded services and technology will provide Stena with improved availability of services. Increased bandwidth will be dedicated to the CUG, the fleet's so-called 'Closed User Group' (CUG), which can be dynamically allocated between the 27 vessels in order to meet specific usage demands. For instance, a vessel sailing further offshore may require more VSAT bandwidth than a coastal vessel that can route telephony and data connectivity through 3G and other carriers using hybrid network functionality.

"Connectivity is a key differentiator for Stena Line. High quality telephony and internet access support our passengers' satisfaction, crew welfare and operational efficiency," said Raimo Warkki, Stena IT.

"We have worked closely with Marlink for several years to develop and apply innovative new communication solutions designed to reduce costs and provide us with the facility to offer market leading connectivity services, which help to differentiate our offering in a very competitive marketplace. So we are pleased that we have joined forces to upgrade our communications even further."

Marlink says that its hybrid network solution improves internet access with seamless switching between satcoms and 3G (voice and data). It enables a dedicated administration LAN by integrating satcoms with GSM 3G coverage and a redundant terrestrial network from the teleport to Stena Line HQ. The network also supports provision of on board third party GSM voice, SMS and data services, in addition to routing for third party service providers such as navigation, digital signage and ATM devices.

Marlink also developed integrated ship-shore telephony where all ships and three shore offices are interconnected via one switch board, to allow calls in all possible directions between land offices and the fleet. All voice calls within this network are free.

"Stena Line is one of the most forward thinking ferry operators out there so we are pleased to support their ambition to upgrade to the most advanced satellite tech and services available," said Robin Hernandez, regional sales manager at Marlink. "The new solution will give Stena Line vessels more bandwidth per vessel, more flexibility, stability and availability of communication services, better equipment reliability, improved satellite roaming and new back-up capabilities. With the recent launch of the satellite network initiative, AuroraMaritime from Airbus Defence and Space, migration to High Throughput Satellite (HTS) services is possible."


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