KVH’s IP‑MobileCast content delivery service is a new solution to an ancient reality of life at sea: the isolation. Ironically, modern shipping practices are making isolation worse. Slow steaming (reducing speed to save fuel) can add days to ocean voyages. Logistics improvements reduce port calls from days to hours. New security requirements often prohibit shore leave.
Onshore, we live in an ever more connected world while offshore, transmission bottlenecks make the Internet's rich content prohibitively expensive.
Some crew work in areas covered by the same satellite TV services that serve the home market. For crew posted to a coastal vessel within the coverage area of land-based satellite TV services, their vessel may already use one of KVH’s TracVision antennas to pick up the signal.
However, satellite TV is broadcast over beams that match continental footprints very closely because that’s where consumers live. When a ship wanders from coastal waters, TV reception drops to zero, the loneliness of long distance voyaging sets in, and IP‑MobileCast may be the crew’s only connection to home.
O. S. Emerson Tibayan,
(from “A Tale of a Tub,” by Patricia Marx,
The New Yorker, Feb. 3, 2014)
The central insight behind IP‑MobileCast is that it’s far more efficient to send a file once to everyone than again and again to every recipient. Network engineers call this strategy multicasting. For 1,000 users, it’s literally 1,000 times more efficient than the standard Internet unicast protocol.
Multicasting is already used onshore in special cases, but not at sea where the benefits would be enormous. Why not? Multicasting requires a system-wide implementation touching every step of the data flow, from teleport to satellite to ship. And it requires the entertainment and operations content to justify the technology.
For most Internet traffic, the conversation between a content provider and the content viewer is 1-to-1. For example, traditional video-on-demand services answer 1,000 viewer requests to see a movie with 1,000 individual replies.
Onshore, there’s enough connectivity to go around. But at sea, satellite prices are high and throughput is low. A satellite can’t possibly support 1,000 streaming video requests. Not at any price.
For operations, we’re partnering with the market leading application providers in each segment of the maritime industry. They specialize in electronic charts, weather and voyage routing, and crew training and education. If you’re using a best-of-class application to do anything worthwhile at sea, the odds are good that we’re in contact with its developer. We’re running joint development projects to leverage multicasting so that you receive far more data, more frequently, than before. Our partners will win in their markets. You’ll win in yours.
For entertainment, we took the opposite tack. There weren’t several leading companies to partner with. Just one with vast experience in the maritime market and more than 60 years experience in providing content to a wide range of sectors. So we acquired them and formed the KVH Media Group. That explains why our content is the most fun to watch.
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Designed by KVH specifically for IP‑MobileCast, the KVH Media Server facilitates digital rights management (DRM) of the copyrighted movies, TV programs, and music that make up IP‑MobileCast’s unparalleled entertainment content.
And, the Media Server supports iOS and Android systems to ensure that the content can be seen on the personal digital devices so prevalent on ships today as the BYOD culture gains popularity. As with so much else in IP‑MobileCast, there’s nothing comparable on the market.
Another big part of IP‑MobileCast is the device that you watch it on. It can be anything from a ship PC to your own smartphone. Would you like to scroll through our text news digests? Go right ahead. Are there times when you’d love to catch up on a favorite TV series? Download our free app for iOS or Android.
Watch your favorite football team's latest game's highlights with your mates on the mess hall TV? At last you can, even days into a transoceanic trip. We’ve optimized the viewing experience for just about every smartphone, tablet, notebook, and TV on the market.