ran a communications survey in partnership with independent satellite communications provider NSSLGlobal Ltd., to better understand the expectations, desires and needs of crew working on board superyachts today. A full write-up of the findings will appear in issue 71 of The Crew Report, but here we bring you a snapshot of the findings and what’s happening in the world of superyacht communications and speak to survey sponsor NSSLGlobal Ltd. about the results.

With a plethora of Wi-Fi enabled devices on the market such as tablets and smartphones, we asked crew how many they had on board for personal use. The most popular answer, and the choice of 33 per cent of crewmembers, was three; however a surprising 16 per cent of crewmembers revealed they had six or more devices. Interestingly, 10 per cent of crewmembers told us they were unaware that some Wi-Fi enabled devices automatically run online updates and synchs, which both slows down internet connections and can become costly. The survey revealed that the costs were, in most cases, to be borne by the yacht itself, with 90 per cent of crew admitting to be able to access the internet thorough the yacht’s own network.

However, crew taking the survey did not praise the speed of yachts’ networks too highly. We asked crew to rate the speed of the internet on board, for day time (06:00 to 17:00) and night time (17:00 to 06:00), from the following options: poor, fair, good, excellent and outstanding. No crew hailed their on board network connection as outstanding for either time period, while 21 per cent said the connection was poor during the day time compared with 16 per at night time.

“The survey showed that nearly half of all crewmembers expect their internet connection on board to be the same or nearly the same as that at home."

“As the proliferation of smartphones, tablets and other Wi-Fi-enabled devices continues to grow exponentially, the desire to get online regardless of location propagates at pace. The superyacht industry has responded accordingly and, as this research has found, over 90 per cent of crew can now get online while on board. This enables them as well as holiday makers and owners to browse the internet, use social media and communicate online,” comments Sally-Anne Ray, managing director of NSSLGlobal Ltd. 

“The survey showed that nearly half of all crewmembers expect their internet connection on board to be the same or nearly the same as that at home, and while the majority of those interviewed – 89.5 per cent – realise that some devices automatically run updates and syncs that can slow down connection speeds, it is questionable whether those on board actually turn off this functionality” continues Ray. “What’s more, nearly half of those interviewed do not have or know of a restriction policy that ensures a fair usage policy on board. The impact of all this is that the superyacht industry will continue to struggle handling the demand for increased connection speeds. The knock-on effect of this could be frustrated owners and unhappy holidaymakers. It is only through actively managing its broadband access that the superyacht industry can ensure that everyone on board can get online when they want, wherever they are and enjoy outstanding connection speeds.”

Could it be that these results are calling for improvements to the connections and network offerings themselves? Or could it be that yachts are in greater need of dedicated personnel on board to handle connectivity (the research revealed that only 26 per cent of crew who took the survey had a certified IT engineer on board)?

A detailed analysis of the survey’s findings will be available in issue 71 of The Crew Report, out October 2014.

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