Technology Update by e3 systems

Technology Update - e3 systems

What’s Hot and What’s Not

 As any reader will know, my monthly column -now in its 25th year (!)- focuses primarily on technical developments within the wide communications spectra that exist on superyachts. Recently, and more specifically, they have focused on the significant developments within satellite communications and what this means for us at the frontline of the sector.

In terms of what’s hot and what’s not, the very hot topic remains much as it has for the last year; whether (and how) yachts integrate Starlink capability in either its RV or Maritime form. As always, there are a multitude of factors to consider.

 Starlink RV – Still a sensible option?


 Last year, a number of vessels were early adopters of the RV system as a temporary or permanent installation. These worked well throughout 2022, even on the move and without being geo-fenced. This was unexpected, contrary to the messages we received from Starlink (albeit with a good mixture of positive and negative feedback reported in its performance).

Slide One Caption: “Temporary Starlink RV system

We’ve even had clients transit to the Caribbean prior to Christmas using their Starlink RV system, with coverage all the way across. One of them enjoyed the World Cup Final in HD 1000nm from land. But for how much longer will this be the case?

It continues to undermine the launch of the Maritime system in July 2022 and the flat, non-motorised Version 2 of the high-gain maritime antenna launched at the Monaco Yacht Show in September.  However, Starlink seems to be targeting its sale of these to resellers!

Slide Two –Caption:  “Dual Starlink Maritime HP panels and wedge mount installation”

 However, with only a best-efforts service offered by Starlink, whether Maritime or RV (they offer only Maximum Information Rate – MIR), there is no contractual obligation on performance (as offered with a guaranteed Committed Information Rate service – CIR). Bandwidth is from zero to approximately 250Mbps in practice and most commonly around 90-150Mbps. With reports of regular, albeit brief, dropouts (not good for live streaming or important conference calls), it illustrates perfectly that active conventional Ku and Ka Band VSAT services with a guaranteed CIR remain absolutely relevant for the immediate future for vessels with incumbent VSAT installations.

This is, however, leading to a greater attraction towards lower-bandwidth and shorter-term conventional VSAT contracts, so long as the flexibility is there to upgrade for key periods, such as charters or when owners and guests are on board.

 Starlink Maritime – 50% Hardware Reduction

 The dual-panel system from Starlink Direct dropped by a full 50% in January from $10,000 to $5,000. This brings it in line with industry resellers that had invested many millions in purchasing several thousand systems, thereby removing a key USP that they could offer on discounted hardware.

Also appearing in late 2022 were limits on data consumption for Starlink Maritime. Previously unlimited, it is now restricted to 5TB for the standard Airtime monthly contract at $5,000/month, with overages at around $2.00/GB. With the exponential growth in demand for both speed and data, 5TB will be used up in a matter of days of streaming over a few TVs.

Some resellers can offer ‘Maritime Light’ Starlink airtime contracts of 1 or 2 TBs/month, but these are linked and obligated to run alongside an in-house VSAT contract from the reseller.

An Agnostic Approach

 e3 Systems has chosen the agnostic route and is treating Starlink and VSAT as separately procured entities. This leaves the vessel free to explore the various VSAT solutions offered independently and to tailor these to their specific requirements. We continue to marry these systems on board in terms of installation onto the vessel itself and its integration into the communications/IT network. We also continue to provide ongoing support either on an ‘as-required’ hourly basis or through an annual support contract.

Through our e3 Systems US office in Ft Lauderdale, we are currently facilitating the provision of Starlink Maritime direct for yachts and installing it on several vessels in Europe and beyond. With a lead time of 3-4 weeks from order to delivery, it’s worth investigating now for the Mediterranean season ahead. Installation is relatively straightforward, although as always, it presents more challenges on sailing vessels than motor yachts – and we are currently doing both!

 Further Conventional VSAT Choices

 To offer further increased flexibility to our conventional VSAT portfolio, we have recently launched a new service specifically for new clients with Starlink. And for those whom we are facilitating the Starlink Maritime provision of hardware, installation and integration – an ultra-flexible VSAT service with CIR that can be switched off and on at short notice.

 To RV or Not to RV…?

 We are also advising vessels that if there are no plans to install Starlink Maritime for the 2023 summer season, then the RV system makes sense at just €450.00 and €85.00 for the monthly Airtime. This is considerably less than the cost of many overnight berths!

Unlike the Maritime version, this can be purchased directly through the Starlink website at Not least, vessels can test a relatively temporary and cheap installation, get familiar with the system and check any under-performing elements within their own IT network which may negate the benefits of all the higher bandwidths available. This helps to identify increased cyber security risks that present themselves – and lower their potential expenditure on 4/5G data for this summer season.

Of course, this comes with no guarantee of future limitations of the RV system’s performance off the beach or on the move. Good 4/5G connectivity and flexible VSAT remain as relevant backups to the RV system to ensure you are covered for every eventuality.

In either scenario, a Pay As You Use 4/5G option remains highly suitable to take up the slack within 4/5G coverage areas, serviced by us through our Big Data series of Pay As You Use sim card services – for Europe, the Caribbean, the United States and globally.

Other Interesting Tech Developments

At the end of January, Iridium Communications launched the new Iridium GO! Exec. This is a device that may well be the most capable ultra-portable solution for global connectivity on smartphones, iPads and laptops. It extends off-grid capability to send and receive emails, make phone calls, share pictures and get help in an emergency.

Slide Three – Caption: “Iridium GO! Exec

Using Iridium Certus technology, the Iridium Go! exec provides faster data speeds at a size, weight, power and price point unheard of to date. Whilst it will certainly appeal to everyday adventurers outside our sector, it is a desirable bit of kit to have on board any vessel sending people ashore in remote areas, such as Antarctica or the Northern Passage, as it easily fits into a backpack. We like it – a lot:

e3 Systems / Yachting Gives Back Cycling

Securing primary sponsorship again from our friends at Speedcast, we are happy to announce the fifth instalment of our extremely popular e3 Systems cycle challenges focused towards captains, engineers, crew and colleagues in the industry on Friday 21st April.

These challenging rides of around 40km are fully funded by us and our supporting partners and are free of charge to enter, the caveat being that riders donate on the day, every cent of which goes directly towards the work of the fine folk at Yachting Gives Back. So far, we have raised over €10,000 for YGB, which has provided food, computer equipment and even an industrial oven for homeless centres in Mallorca – and we’ve had a great deal of fun doing it!


If you would like to come along, please register your interest to and we will be in touch with the full details.


Roger Horner – e3 systems


+34 971404 208


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