The iconic ferry service connecting Melbourne and Devonport will, finally, now have onboard wi-fi after partnering with satellite internet provider IPSTAR Broadband.
Spirit of Tasmania travellers will now be able to access the internet for $20 per crossing or $12 an hour, which could quickly eclipse the cheapest ticket price ($79) on the nine to eleven-hour crossing.
The service runs on a 1.5 metre gyrostabilised antenna with a 16W Ku band (12 to 18 gigahertz) transmitter connecting to IPSTAR Broadband’s Thaicom 4 satellite.
While the speed of the service hasn’t been advertised, Spirit of Tasmania advises travellers to “bear in mind that the internet is delivered to the ship via satellite,” and “may be a little slower than what you’re used to on land”.
It also warns that certain types of content or bandwidth-intensive use may be blocked or limited, including connections over virtual private networks, online gaming, torrenting, and sending or receiving large files.
However, the ship also operates a free media streaming service over wi-fi that plays free-to-air TV along with “inspiring videos” of the island state and footage of “behind-the-scenes action” from the ship.
Strategically, passengers are also reminded that they can connect to email and social media to let the world know what a great time they’re having on board (or be pestered by LinkedIn connections).
Connecting to the ship’s Cisco wireless network will also give staff full access to the travel operator’s booking platform, allowing them to check details and make amendments in real-time to reduce duplication and increase responsiveness to passenger requests.
And unlike some employers, the ship operator is also flagging the connectivity as a way to connect with their landlocked friends and family while onboard.
Chief information officer at Spirit of Tasmania, Simon Pearce, said that the stabilised antenna should provide speedy and consistent internet access on the windswept strait.
“We’re continually looking for ways to improve the on board experience for our passengers and by introducing the NAVA system they can now enjoy a fast seamless service throughout their entire journey,” Pearce said.
“From an operational perspective, by ensuring a constant connection between our crew on board and our staff on shore, we are in the best possible position to continue providing exceptional service to our passenger and freight clients.”