Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Extends New Deal for Starlink Maritime
News of Starlink Maritime deals and installations are coming thick and fast within the world of maritime satellite connectivity.
Recently, the Japanese-based shipping company Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL) announced a new deal to use Starlink Maritime via Navarino. This follows on from another deal when shipping company trialled Starlink on a selected number of vessels with Marlink in late 2022.
Stepping back from MOL, NYK confirmed it was trialling Starlink earlier this year. Also, Atlantic Bulk stated it was using Starlink Maritime via Navarino on two vessels earlier this month and would be deploying the service across its fleet.
List of past publicly announced Deals, Installations and Trials
- Carnival began a fleet rollout of Starlink in December 2022, to provide Wi-Fi for their vessels. This initially began with Carnival Cruise Line and Aida Cruises, but there are plans to expand to its other cruise brands.
- In January 2023, Solstad Utilities became the first Marlink customer to trial Starlink, as Marlink rolls out its new blend of hybrid network services, which include Starlink connectivity integrated with VSAT, L-band back up and 4G services
- In January 2023, NYK Line also conducted a trial of Starlink on their container vessels.
- In addition, a month later, Eastern Pacific Shipping started using Starlink’s LEO services, a Marlink customer since 2016. The service will first be trialled on selected vessels before being integrated into a blend of networks to be managed by Marlink.
- In March 2023, Marlink announced that it will further extend connectivity options on Ultramarine with Starlink.
- Castor Marine is to outfit Acta Marine’s Walk-to Work vessels with Starlink connectivity. With Castor Marine already serving the entire fleet, Starlink will be integrated into the existing communications structure.
- In March 2023, Anglo-Eastern confirmed that it had completed its first formal installation of the Starlink maritime service within its fleet, with the first phase of its rollout set to cover 12 vessels. Should everything go as expected, Anglo-Eastern believes in completing at least 200 installations across its fleet by the end of 2023, with more to follow in subsequent years from the more than 600 ships it has under full third-party management.
- Also, in March 2023 Athens bases Enesel S.A has begun implementing the rollout of Starlink with a trial on MT Kanaris 21. Navarino is the Starlink reseller.
- In April 2023, Columbia Shipmanagement began trialing Starlink on several vessels. Starlink’s service is being explored in conjunction with the use of its SD-WAN technologies, combined with cellular 5G connectivity.
- Also, in April 2023, Greek ship operator Costamare, manager of 70 Containers and 45 Dry Bulk Carriers, is trialing Starlink on four of their vessels using Navarino.
With this glut of activity, it is hard to decipher between the hype and cold, hard cash generated from airtime revenues. As such, please allow Valour Consultancy to provide a few snippets of insight.
We believe or have been told:
- As of April 2023, more than 5,000 vessels are using Starlink’s connectivity services (what portion of those are for RVs and those are for maritime remain shaded in grey. For us and Starlink too).
- Expect some big shake-ups in this regard in the coming months.
- The total number of vessels served is split 50/50 between those going direct to Starlink and via their service providers. This is going to change rapidly in the next 7 months.
- After interviewing an IT manager at a merchant shipping operator using Starlink, he proclaimed that almost every merchant vessel using GEO VSAT will be using Starlink in the next two years. We would not be that bullish, but it is a very bold statement by a typically conservative profession.
- We believe the biggest Starlink service provider, based on vessel count is Speedcast. However, Anuvu, Marlink and Navarino are also very high up there.
Conclusion and Key Takeaway
Of those vessels going direct to Starlink, more than 1/3 of the leisure vessel VSAT equipped are actively subscribing to the LEO service. One smaller reseller of Starlink thinks it is more than 80%, but this is difficult to believe. The monthly contracts offered by the satellite operator suit the leisure vessel connectivity market well, particularly with the seasonality of the vessel’s activity.
We estimated more than one in ten fishing vessels, already using GEO VSAT, are using Starlink Maritime, particularly small fishing fleets.
One notable point; Iridium is seeing some huge upside from the growing popularity of Starlink. The American satellite operator has recently updated its fair usage policy and continues to see strong growth as a companion product to Starlink Maritime.
One subtle point within the list of those announcements; several traditional Marlink customers are using Starlink Maritime with other service providers. This may be an indicator highlighting Marlink’s reluctance to embrace the new LEO service completely. Also, with OmniAccess as part its group, you can easily see how Marlink has been forced into becoming a Starlink reseller without possibly really wanting to be. However, it should be noted, this is purely speculation.
What will become clear is that Starlink will start to onboard more smaller and niche maritime service providers on smaller vessel commitments but focused on recurring monthly revenues. Hardware units stacked in warehouses in bigger service providers doesn’t help Starlink’s bottom line.
By the end of 2023, the total number of vessels using Starlink Maritime will be far in excess of 70/30 to service providers to direct. Inter Milan has more chance of beating Manchester City in Champions League Final next month than this being wrong.