Royal Caribbean International has given away Internet
access for the past couple of weeks on its newest ship, Quantum of the Seas.
The ship is one of three to be rigged for
communications with the O3b mid-level satellite network, that provides for
greater bandwidth and communications speeds.
Royal Caribbean President Michael Bayley said guests were
encouraged to use as much Internet capacity as they wanted or needed at no
charge during recent cruises.
"On Quantum, because we have so much bandwidth, over
the past three weeks we’ve given out free WiFi. I mean free, free, free all
the time,” Bayley told a group of travel agents on Freedom of the Seas over the
Royal Caribbean officials said the experiment was a kind of
“stress test” to see just how much demand the system can handle.
"So we’ve been monitoring the consumption of
bandwidth when we let everybody have free bandwidth — the crew, the guests,
everybody — and we’ve only used a fraction of it,” Bayley said.
The standard charge on most Royal Caribbean ships for Internet
access is 65 cents a minute.
Cruise line officials said it is unlikely that Internet
access will become free on ships equipped with O3b. The current working
model is to charge like many land resorts a fee of $10 to $15 a day for
unlimited access, Royal Caribbean spokesman Harry Liu said.
There will be a premium package for
large-bandwidth usage like streaming video, and Bayley said the line is
exploring what it can do with such applications.
"Soon we’re going to start speaking more about
this capability,” Bayley told the agents. "Because of the scale and size
of this bandwidth, we could do streaming videos. It’s genuinely as good as
being in a city somewhere in the United States. It is better than that."
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.com.