It’s no small task to keep cruise passengers connected to the Internet. A
signal’s complicated path from ship to satellite, and back again, is costly
for passengers and cruise lines alike. By Donna Tunney
What happens when someone on a cruise ship attempts to
connect with the Internet?
1. The request begins at an Internet cafe computer.
2-3. The signal moves through the ship’s Internet proxy to
its WAN accelerator and then to its router.
4. It is directed to the ship’s antenna.
5. It is beamed to a geostationary satellite 22,000 miles
above the Earth.
6. The signal bounces back to an earth station, which is
operated by MTN Satellite Communications.
7. It hits that station’s WAN accelerator.
8-9. It transfers to an Internet router and finally reaches
The process is then reversed. By the time the signal
returns to the Internet cafe computer, perhaps to display
the homepage of a website, the communication sequence
has traveled some 44,000 miles roundtrip. The data request
signal, according to MTN, travels at the speed of light. It
takes half a second to hit the geostationary satellite in
each direction. That delay, called latency, is not present on
land-based Internet connection systems, and it is one of the
reasons why shipboard connectivity is slower than on land.