Carnival Corp. staged a live teleconference from the decks
of the Regal Princess, demonstrating the new Medallion technology's bandwidth
The ship is the first to implement Medallion, part of which
is a faster and more reliable internet connection.
During the demonstration in the Bahamas, Carnival attempted
to harness 1.5 gigabytes per second of bandwidth to show that connectivity is a
rapidly fading concern on ships. Carnival showed that games and video streaming ran adequately on the Medallion internet.
John Padgett, Carnival's chief experience and innovation
officer, presided over the demonstration and said that the largest bandwidth
reported to date by a cruise ship had been 580 megabytes per second.
Unlike homes, cell phones or most hospitality venues, cruise
ships at sea are out of touch with the usual transmission networks for Internet
signals and must rely on satellites. Until recently that service has suffered
from slowness, unreliability and expense.
"There's always been a liability associated with
cruising and that has been connectivity," Padgett said.
He said he hoped the stress test would prove that cruise
ships now have the same technical capacity as land resorts for connectivity.
"Once we dispel the myth that connectivity is a
problem, we'll open up the cruise market to new demand," Padgett said.
To gain better connectivity, Carnival has partnered with SES
Networks, which has an array of high and mid-earth orbit satellites, which can
shorten the time that signals travel back and forth in the atmosphere,
Steve Collar, CEO of SES Networks, said on the conference
call that the quality of Internet service is affected by the distance to the
satellite and by the amount of bandwidth devoted to the transmission.
He compared earlier service on cruise ships to a four-lane
highway, and said the bandwidth in the demonstration is more like a 50 or 100
lane highway. The precise amount of bandwidth in use during the call will be
subject to later verification.
"Now it's about making that bandwidth affordable, and
seamless and efficient," Collar said.
Padgett said the super-fast Internet for now is available
only on the Regal Princess and he declined to give a timetable for its
implementation on other Princess or Carnival Corp. ships. But he said there's
been much progress in making the Internet service faster and more reliable.
"All of our ships have connectivity, and we've made a
dramatic improvement across the fleet over the past few years," Padgett