When it comes to invention, technology development, service and cost-savings, the superyacht industry is leading the world, at least according to Tony Holland of e3 Systems.

At the Connectivity 2014 conference held today in London, UK, Holland explained how his firm is providing enormous bandwidth and global connectivity to superyacht clients, whose data demands for a single yacht can often be greater than those for entire commercial fleets. And the solutions e3 are developing for their clients are years ahead of what’s on offer for commercial and leisure shipping fleets by virtue of the fact that superyacht owners expect to get innovative solutions and even good prices.

“All of the customers that we deal with in the yacht sector are super rich,” Holland said.” They understand that putting something into the market that’s faster and cheaper is the way to success. In fact when we make proposals to owners on the latest communications systems, not only to they understand the benefits of the system, they also sometimes want to invest in the technology itself.”

Roger Horner (left) and Tony Holland of e3 Systems

The audience at the Strand Palace Hotel was composed of global satcom industry business leaders as well as senior executives from across aviation, maritime and rail industries who had gathered in London to meet and discuss options and opportunities in the mobile and satellite data market. Holland, who is the group airtime and contracts director for e3 Systems explained how e3 are working to deliver the best data delivery solutions to clients with extremely high expectations and data demands.

“It’s not all about VSAT,” Holland said. “Other technologies are competing and we will put as much of the traffic as we can onto the cheaper, faster channels when they’re available.”

Pointing to innovations across the data communications world, including Kymeta’s forthcoming flat-panel antennas, new video compression standards, Hotspot 2.0 automatic authentication protocols and 5G broadband with a 40km offshore range, Holland painted a forward-thinking picture of their approach to connecting superyachts to the digital world that clearly impressed the audience, some of whom were managing commercial fleets with bare-bones 256Kbps links.

E3's approach is to offer yachts the data and equipment package that best suits their needs, regardless of the service provider or equipment manufacturer, says the company's founder and CEO, Roger Horner. It's a policy that ensures the client isn't shoehorned into service packages that only deliver part of an effective solution. "Some of the bandwidth service providers want their customers to get all their services through them, even if a mixed approach would ultimately serve the customer better," Horner said. "We prefer to find out what the owner needs, then assemble the best package for them."

The two-day long event also featured a talk from Nick Burrett, sales manager from global satellite broadband provider SES, who noted that from his perspective, there is never one solution that will work for all clients. “Even we are guessing how this satcoms market will evolve,” Burrett said, referring to the competing Inmarsat GlobalXpress and EPIC high throughput satellite systems that will be coming online from 2015.

Roger Adamson of marine consultancy Futurenautics made a very strong case for the future of the “sentient ship,” in which all vessels will be connected to the cloud and services will be bookable via third-party comparison sites. His attention was squarely on container shipping, though the implications of his analysis could equally be applied to superyacht charter, for instance.

A comprehensive report on the superyacht satcoms market is forthcoming in the April issue The Superyacht Report.

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