Technology Update with e3 systems

Along with the New Year’s Eve fireworks, there have been several rocket launches recently, carrying yet more satellites to populate the LEO constellations orbiting us.

Starlink and OneWeb increase launch activity to achieve 2023 global coverage.

 In early December last year, the FCC issued a key authorisation to Elon Musk’s SpaceX, granting approval to launch up to 7,500 of its next generation satellites.


SpaceX launched the first batch, totalling 54 of their new generation (Gen 2) Starlink satellites into orbit on December 28th last year on the reusable Falcon 9 rocket. This was the eleventh flight for this rocket which returned to earth safely landing on the SpaceX drone ship.

By the start of 2023 this brings the total number of Starlink satellites in orbit and operational to 3,300 with nearly one million subscribers.

The first launch of the next batch of 53 Gen 2 Starlink satellites was on 9th January from California. Interestingly SpaceX also launched 40 more OneWeb satellites on 8th December 2022, and another 40 on 9th January this year from Florida, bringing the total number of satellites to 542. This represents over 80% of their total fleet putting them on track to provide global connectivity this year. This was the second launch of OneWeb satellites by their LEO competitor SpaceX -that owns Starlink- which shows how healthy the competition is.

Monday 9th January was a significant day for satellite launches, as not only were there two successful SpaceX rocket launches on the east and west coast of the USA, but there was also the planned horizontal launch of nine satellites from UK soil via a rocket from a repurposed Virgin Orbit Boeing 747. Unfortunately, the latter did not go according to plan as the rocket made it into space but failed to reach the right altitude for its designated orbit, with its valuable cargo of satellites being left to break up in the atmosphere.

The Kymeta with OneWeb service is already on track to launch second quarter of 2023


Following on from my column last month, with the launch of these additional OneWeb satellites the Kymeta OneWeb solution is getting very close to its original target of global coverage by second quarter 2023, so is well on track.

How best to implement Starlink from a selection of satellite experts with experience

 There have been a number of interesting interviews with satellite industry experts, by Alan Gottlieb of Satellite Mobility World ( These took place at the end of last year describing their experience with Starlink.

Hughes Network Systems’ Executive E.V.P. and International GM, Ramesh Ramaswamy states in his interview that While Starlink achieves high speeds in areas of low subscriber density, it appears to be experiencing significant speed limitations in congested areas. Ultimately, localized demand will dictate the capacity required in each geographical area. A high-demand solution will most likely embody a combination of GEO and LEO to selectively enhance capacity and lower latency.”

Alan Gottlieb also interviewed iNet CTO and Founder Stanley Hughey about his Starlink experience. iNET deployed its first Starlink terminals in early 2022, and throughout the
summer they integrated Starlink’s offering with their existing end-to-end, private LTE solutions. Their initial focus was to improve network availability and increase bandwidth, in the same way it is required on a yacht.

They experienced a network outage for about an hour that impacted their subscribers which was widely reported to the press, so they do not now recommend Starlink as a sole solution. He states, “Communication is critical in an offshore environment. Starlink will have to prove that it can meet the uptime and consistent speeds demanded and back its claims with an SLA if it is to become a primary solution”.

 Finally, from Alan Gottlieb interviews, Viasat Energy Services President Lee Ahlstrom, who is responsible for critical oilfield operations that require guaranteed services and not just “best effort” services as provided by Starlink said, If Starlink wants to successfully serve the energy industry, they’ll have to think about adapting their hardware and service policies to meet market needs. The Starlink network today is not fully contended. The through-put people are seeing may not be what they’ll experience when the network is fully loaded. It’s a shortcoming that’s already been recognized in highly concentrated areas on land.”

Experience is saying implement Starlink as a HYBRID solution


 After the first year of using Starlink, the general consensus is that Starlink is highly recommended, but should be implemented as the super broadband “best effort” service (MIR) component of a HYBRID solution working seamlessly together with a guaranteed (CIR) VSAT service, to still provide a guaranteed (99.9%) service, enhanced performance, low latency and with 24/7 direct support.

Do you know about the new GMDSS regulations from January 1st, 2024?


 SOLAS Chapter IV is the “Bible” for GMDSS.  It describes in detail the need for safety communication equipment. There is a new edition issued every 5-6 years. The last one was in 2020 and now there has been a complete rewrite of Chapter IV that comes into force on 1st January 2024.

The changes affecting compliance are:

  • Sea Area 3
  • HF Radio
  • GMDSS Printers

The Sea Area 3

This change is to do with the difference between the Inmarsat Sat-C and the Iridium GMDSS service. The existing Sea Areas have a Sea Area A4 which is the area north and south of 70 degrees to the poles. If using Iridium GMDSS Sea Area 3 is global and there is no Sea Area 4. If using Inmarsat Sat-C Area 3 extends to 70 degrees north and south and there is a Sea Area 4. The exact definition is:

“Sea Area A3 means an area, excluding sea areas A1 and A2, within the coverage of a recognized mobile satellite service supported by the ship earth station carried on board, in which continuous alerting is available”.

So global compliance, using Iridium GMDSS is simple.

NAVTEX change

The NAVTEX receiver and the need to receive NAVTEX broadcasts is out. Now every ship needs a receiver(s) capable of receiving MSI (Maritime Safety Information) and search and rescue related information throughout the entire voyage in which the ship is engaged.

HF Radio (requirements for Sea Area 3) change

MF or HF radio instead of MF and HF radio

MF: Transmitting and receiving on only two channels:

DSC:   2.187,5 kHz

Voice: 2.182 kHz


HF: Transmitting and receiving on all DSC channels

GMDSS Printer change

There is no requirement for direct-printing telegraphy, if the equipment has a screen and sufficient memory capacity.

The simplest way to comply with the new rules

Our recommendation is to install the all-inclusive Iridium GMDSS system from Lars Thrane. The range of solutions from the pedigree stable of Lars Thrane is extensive and all inclusive. This is our standard recommendation for all new builds now, together with the airtime.

The GMDSS functionality includes:

  • Distress Call (safety)
  • Distress Alert
  • Maritime Safety Information (MSI or EGC)
  • Priority Messaging (to RCC)
  • Bridge Alert Management (BAM)
  • Navigational (NAV) interface
  • Alarm panel
  • Printer output

The Non-GMDSS functionality includes:

  • Ship Security Alert Systems (SSAS)
  • Long-Range Identification & Tracking (LRIT)
  • For daily communication
  • Voice
  • SMS
  • Email
  • Tracking
  • Extra SIP telephones
  • Analog Telephone adaptor

There are many accessories. Please talk to us about your compliance requirement.

We will be at the Superyacht Technology Summit ISE Day and Gala Dinner in Barcelona on 31st January, so hope to see you there.


Roger Horner – e3 systems


+34 971404 208


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