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Musk’s Starlink Beams to Container Ships So Crews Can Web Surf

Elon Musk’s satellite internet service is heading deeper into one of the world’s oldest and vast economic frontiers: the high seas.

By: BLOOMBERG
Updated on: Sep 22 2023, 09:28 IST
Hapag-Lloyd AG, the biggest container shipping line based in Germany, said Thursday it will install SpaceX’s Starlink service aboard the ships it owns. (AFP)
Hapag-Lloyd AG, the biggest container shipping line based in Germany, said Thursday it will install SpaceX’s Starlink service aboard the ships it owns. (AFP)

Elon Musk’s satellite internet service is heading deeper into one of the world’s oldest and vast economic frontiers: the high seas.

Hapag-Lloyd AG, the biggest container shipping line based in Germany, said Thursday it will install SpaceX’s Starlink service aboard the ships it owns and manages after a pilot program involving four vessels proved successful. Charters won’t receive the service under the current plan. According to Alphaliner data, 122 of the 259 ships that Hapag-Lloyd operates are company-owned.

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For crews that spend months at sea, reliable on-board connectivity is a luxury if it’s available at all, partly hinging on proximity to land-based networks. During the first two years of the Covid-19 pandemic, seafarers’ sense of isolation only intensified as they kept working months after their employment contracts expired because global goods trade surged and border restrictions that made returning home difficult.

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In a statement, Hapag-Lloyd said “the high-speed satellite internet has revolutionized communication for seafarers, enabling seamless video calls and streaming services.”

Hapag-Lloyd Chief Operating Officer Maximilian Rothkopf added that the connections will “enhance their well-being on board.”

Next steps in the rollout include ordering more equipment and installing antennas by year-end and activation of the service starting in early 2024.

The broadband network has capacity of as much as 250 megabits per second, the Hamburg-based carrier said. That helps facilitate “not only private use but also enabling Hapag-Lloyd to conduct remote maintenance and vessel inspections,” the company said.

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First Published Date: 22 Sep, 09:07 IST

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