Meridian5G - Speeds taking off
Dasha Grupman discusses the potential that 5G has to revolutionise onboard connectivity …
5G has been coming for some time, with networks providing significantly improved 4G in preparation of the 5G rollout. We will explore what that means for superyachts to keep up with that innovation, and meet guests’ expectations and demand for more bandwidth and speed, be it on upcoming 5G or using the full potential of the more widely available 4G. As we’ve learned at MYS 2021 Long term evolution (LTE) equipment manufacturers have also been upping their game as more and more antennae are needed for the next generation of routers, which poses intricate challenges for superyachts.
SuperyachtNews spoke with Dasha Grupman, Founder and CEO of Meridian 5G, along with her team during the MYS2021. The interview formed the basis for the below film, made at the Yacht Club de Monaco. For the show, The Yacht Club took advantage of the Meridian 5G equipment and the 5G already available in Monaco, resulting in speeds that were faster than the club’s fibre optics lines. For those not familiar with the brand, Meridian 5G develops and manufactures proprietary superyacht-specific LTE equipment, particularly known for their flagship DOME router product. As Grupman summarised:
"As more and more guests work onboard with Zoom calls, remote schooling and heightened demand for interactive games, high latency on VSat is simply not able to deliver a solution for such applications."
The 5th generation of connectivity has been in development for many years, so why not have a system on board that is not only able to take full advantage of this emerging network but also make the most of the rapidly improving existing 3G and 4G networks that may be the most cost-efficient and fastest solution available.
“Captains have felt like sometimes they cannot rely on 4G as much as they can on VSAT. However, with the right equipment setup, you can achieve unparalleled speeds by having a reliable connection in virtually all cruising areas while guests are onboard.” Said Grupman
The right equipment for a superyacht should avoid long coax cables between the router and the antennas that cause massive signal loss and decreased range as a result. And that is what sets the Meridian 5G DOME router apart. With only one 15cm cable inside their proprietary panels, installed in a dome high up on the mast, Meridian routers may achieve coverage up to 100km offshore on 4G alone.
“It is not only about coverage offshore”, as Grupman noted. “Extended range greatly helps in remote bays in rural areas with no tower nearby, or in a busy port with overloaded networks, as you can simply choose to connect to a tower away from a busy superyacht hub”. Much like we have come to expect onshore, maintaining an effective 4G / 5G solution can significantly improve the guest and crew experience. Uninterrupted zoom calls and HD streaming are just some of the beignets reported by Meridian customers. Such as Pietro Salini, owner of the 45m motor yacht Rose Pigre.
“We cruised in Southern Italy and the Ionian Islands, and we had great offshore coverage with good connection (50 Mbits) until about 90 km from Cephalonia in our direct trip back to Messina strait. Highly recommend Meridian DOME, support and SIM data.” -Said Pietro Salini.
One of the key ways that the Meridian 5G system is able to get more out of existing networks comes down to being able to use 16 antennas, similar to those found within an iPhone, taking full advantage of what the modern 4G and 5G can supply. As Grupman continued, “The high frequencies of 4G and 5G that provide speeds above 200 Mbps are super sensitive to loss in the cables. For those frequencies every centimetre counts, that is why an iPhone so often outperformed below deck routers onboard yachts.” This loss drove the design innovation, which lays the platform for the performance that the Meridian 5G DOME is able to achieve. “If you can get down to only one super-short cable and avoid any connections you remove 60-90% signal loss, so that is exactly what we did. We took all the equipment and put it into a panel like this, with the antennas inside,” continued Grupman.
Speed in Monaco is one thing, but the true test of an internet connection comes further afield, and while, as Grupman explained, VSat may still be needed for emergencies, blind spots and long crossings, the many traditional cruising grounds are now interconnected with 4G and 5G solutions, for vessels that have the technology on board to take advantage.
“In Croatia, we are seeing 4G speeds between 150 to 350 down, Greece is between 100-400, depending on the location. In Monaco, we are getting 850 on 5G. The Caribbean used to be horrible for speeds but that changed significantly as we observed during the last season, and the extended range helps there more than anywhere,” said Grupman.
The ‘Total Solution’ that many vessels have been searching for may be closer than ever. With the Meridian 5G solution, its specifically designed hardware and the software automatically selects the best network provider and runs off that service, no matter the area of operation. Comparisons are hard between some systems, but as can be seen in the interview from MYS 21, Meridian 5G has created a unique system that captures the advancement of the terrestrial networks and brings that to coastal vessels, and maybe the solution that will bring the connectivity we expect at home all the way to the main salon. Watch the full interview below:
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