“It will improve and enable more high-bandwidth activities like video streaming as well as activities like video calls,” Royal Caribbean Group CEO Jason Liberty said in a statement.
The company said earlier this year that it has more than 400,000 subscribers around the world. Residential services ring up at $110 per month with a one-time hardware cost of $600.
Traditionally, airlines and cruise ships have relied on satellites in far-distant areas of Earth’s orbit — a place called geosynchronous orbit, where objects orbit at the same speed the Earth turns, allowing one satellite to blanket a specific area with connectivity. The problem is because the satellites are so far away, those services have high latencies, which translates into frustrating lag times.
SpaceX’s service is different, relying on thousands of satellites orbiting much closer to Earth that all work in tandem to beam internet to the ground. Eventually, SpaceX hopes to blanket the entire planet in connectivity using as many as 30,000 satellites. Nearly 3,000 are already working in orbit.
But Royal Caribbean International has relied on a different internet service with satellites orbiting closer to the ground than geosynchronous satellites but still higher than SpaceX’s. The prior deal was with a company called O3b, a Starlink competitor that began launching its satellites in 2013. (O3b has since been acquired by geosynchronous satellite operator SES.)
“Royal Caribbean International remains a customer of ours, and we look forward to continuing to grow and evolve our partnership in the coming years,” SES told CNN Business via email, adding that their contract with Royal Caribbean has never been exclusive and “competition is good as it drives the industry to develop innovative experiences.”