When consuming digital media onboard, problems occur when you use your yacht as it should be used, that is, at sea as opposed to when it is docked or near the shore. When close to land, conventional products are perfectly adequate for capturing native satellite television signals. However, when entertaining international guests or cruising, local satellite television may not fit the bill and may be entirely unavailable. KVH has released a net-based product called IP-MobileCast to augment (or replace) the satellite television signals that you pick up from port to port by providing international news, entertainment, sports and critical operations information globally - without negatively affecting the onboard broadband speed.

Internet protocol (IP) entertainment is an extremely bandwidth-consuming form of media. On land increasing usage and hunger for bandwidth is being supplemented by the laying of fibre optic cables and the problem - for most - is negated. However, the laying of ever more cables cannot sate ocean fairing usage, and as a result bandwidth bottlenecks are created, leaving the streaming of visual media painstakingly slow at sea.

The central principle behind the IP-MobileCast is that it is far more efficient to deliver multimedia information globally by multicasting rather than unicasting. Multicasting is the process of sending files once to everyone as opposed to many times to multiple people. According to the KVH website, “For 1000 users, it’s literally 1000 times more efficient than the standard internet unicast protocol”. As an example, “traditional video-on-demand servers answer 1000 viewer requests to see a movie with 1000 individual replies.” At sea, demand this high is unfeasible and extremely expensive.

With IP-MobileCast technology media data is sent to every yacht that uses the KVH mini-VSAT broadband system at once, but only those who have subscribed to the service are able to ‘unlock’ the media from the yachts internal server. “Beam capacity is sized for peak loads, leaving about half the network capacity unused. Multicast data is transmitted in unused bandwidth, at a lower priority than standard IP traffic and it does not use the vessel’s or customer’s broadband plan’s data allowance”, said KVH executive vice president Brent Bruun during a major shipping conference, adding, “a multicast approach like IP-MobileCast sharply reduces the crew’s demand for bandwidth.”

This medium for delivering information allows the media to arrive ‘over the top’ of the network itself, culminating in no additional data charge. Costs are incurred for the monthly subscription to the media package of your choosing, rather than the ‘pay by the megabyte’ services currently available.

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