Best onboard sat comms-TV, internet, data & phone
10/18/2021

Walk the docks at almost any busy marina and you’ll see satellite domes atop boats of varying sizes and types. Some pull in live TV programming far from shore while others provide links, by way of VSAT technology, to the internet, data and worldwide phone service. VSAT is short for Very Small Aperture Terminals and, like satellite TV antennas, deliver service by locking on to specific satellites despite sea conditions. Satellite communications equipment has evolved to the point that boats as small as 25 feet or so can be equipped with the latest technology. Below are some of the best systems on the market.

The lineup is part of an exercise Marine Electronics Journal does every year as part of our Buyers’ Guide. It works like this: We ask the top manufacturers to identify the one model they produce in a particular category (17 in all) that they consider to be their Best & Brightest—not necessarily the most technically advanced or newest but rather the one they rate highest in the product line for one reason or another. Could be the functions and features it offers, or maybe it breaks new ground in maximizing effectiveness or utility, or maybe it’s the most popular as measured by sales to boaters. Last week we rolled out part 2 of the best VHFs, both fixed mount and handheld.

Satellite TV

KVH TracVision TV3

With its single-cable design, compact 37-cm (14.5 inch) antenna, and device-friendly user interface, the NMEA award-winning TracVision TV3 satellite TV system is a snap to install, set up, and use. In no time, boaters can enjoy favorite television programming while on the water. Plus, the DVB-S2-compatible TracVision TV3 is the ideal solution for single- or multiple-receiver installations. Features include: compatibility with high-powered Ku-band satellite TV services around the globe for favorite satellite TV entertainment; high-performance tracking with advanced algorithms for a crystal-clear television picture in heavy seas; single coaxial cable for power, data, and video enabling easy installations and retrofits.

Intellian s6HD

Get DirecTV high-definition channels on your boat in all sea conditions. The s6HD incorporates Intellian’s proprietary iQ² technology, which Intellian says guarantees boaters the fastest signal acquisition and most rock-solid reception. The s6HD is lightweight, has a wide elevation angle (5°-90°) and boasts a next-generation alignment control system that delivers seamless, uninterrupted satellite reception for boaters travelling throughout US waters. With its Single Wire Multi-switch (SWM), the Intellian s6HD enables up to 16 receivers to view all DirecTV HD channels, with the possibility to upgrade to 32 SWM receivers. Features include: fully automated system, enhanced antenna for dual bands, quick & quiet technology, Wi-Fi-enabled antenna control unit, built-in GPS and NMEA 0183 interface, lightest HD antenna available at less than 49 pounds and three-year global warranty.

VSAT

Intellian v45C

Fast internet on your boat has never been more accessible. The v45C is a compact 45-cm, 50-pound Ku-band system that is designed to deliver enhanced connectivity to smaller boats and vessels, ideal for fishing and leisure boats. This antenna offers exceptional value and performance within the space constraints onboard. Easy installation with a single coaxial cable connected outside of the radome. The advanced design ensures optimal performance on both HTS and wide-beam Ku-band satellites. The v45C antenna is qualified for the Intelsat FlexMaritime network or another Ku-band service provider of your choice. This antenna also interfaces with Intellian’s Aptus NX software, ensuring ease of operation onboard as well as access to remote support whenever it’s needed.

KVH TracPhone V7-HTS

Boaters can enjoy fast data speeds, global coverage, HD streaming, popular social apps, and other benefits of connectivity for a new era of digital life at sea with KVH’s TracPhone V7-HTS marine satellite communications antenna system. This advanced 60-cm (24 inch) system delivers data speeds of 10 Mbps download/3 Mbps upload via KVH’s mini-VSAT Broadband HTS network and is offered with hybrid airtime for unlimited use and high-speed data channels running at the same time so everyone onboard is always connected. For worry-free connectivity, KVH includes network-level firewalls with automated cyber threat management for every user on the network. Best, KVH provides 100% transparency into data use with powerful smart data tools for high-performance control over data usage.

Small-boat Internet, Phone and Data

KVH TracPhone V30

KVH’s new TracPhone V30 is an ultra-compact Ku-band VSAT antenna delivering data speeds as fast as 6 Mbps download/2 Mbps upload so boaters can experience all the benefits of internet at sea. Measuring 37 cm (14.5 inches) in diameter, the TracPhone V30 provides ease of installation and retrofit with a single power-data coax cable, and utilizes DC power, a plus for small boats with a limited power supply. Unlike other KVH VSAT systems, the TracPhone V30 has the modem in the dome, a feature KVH engineered to deliver outstanding reception with improved signal efficiency. A streamlined belowdecks unit, called the VSAT-Hub, provides state-of-the-art HTS modem connections, built-in Wi-Fi, data routing, firewall security, and a VoIP adapter for phone calls.

Intellian C700

The C700 provides reliable phone and data services wherever you need to be. The terminal connects to the Iridium Certus network of Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites, providing pole-to-pole communication. With its top-quality RF performance, the C700 can deliver uplink speeds of 352 Kbps and downlink speeds of 704 Kbps, with impressive low-elevation-angle RF efficiency thanks to its unique 12-patch phased-array solid-state antenna design. It supports three high-quality, low-latency phone lines simultaneously. The C700 is especially robust, requiring no scheduled maintenance over its lifetime. The C700 can stand alone or function as a VSAT companion. The combination of traditional VSAT Ku-band and the C700 system will guarantee a seamless connection wherever you are. Available as a bulkhead mount unit or ready to be mounted in a 19-inch rack.


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