Full blog posts

Pepwave
vs Meridian 4G

Reliability

One of the most common complaint about 4G onboard superyachts is the fact that you can’t rely on 4G 100%. You depend on so many factors: how busy the network is in the port, whether signal is available at all, you lose signal when moving away from the shore, or the connection just drops out and you don’t really know why.

Well, the simple answer to that is that you probably use a device that was not built to accommodate the specifics of the superyachts. Devices like Pepwave were developed for commercial use onshore, usually on the same network somewhere in the US with no roaming, good cellular networks, and  proper infrastructure accommodating usual traffic in the region).

Such devices have been attempted to be utilised onboard superyachts, sadly with less than average success. As a result, 4G connection those routers provide works as long as you are in the places and conditions the device was built to accommodate. And once you take the Pepwave “out of its comfort zone” you simply run into its limitations.

Meridian 4G was developed specifically for use onboard superyachts. It was tested for more than two years live onboard yachts so the typical problems could be identified and solutions created. As a result, we came up with a solution that actually works on yachts, and works reliably in 95% of cases within 40km offshore!

“We’ve tried various other SIM based 4G routers onboard Radiant. Meridian4G system really impressed us and is the only solution that truly works.”

Motoryacht Radiant

Speed

4G can be extremely fast. Unless you happened to be in the port of St Tropez with thousands of other sim cards trying to take the best out of the available cellular tower, right?What do you do? Well, better question is: what does your Pepwave do?

Imagine you are streaming a movie. If you do this via a router with 1 sim card only chances are your movie will interrupt, freeze and, you will likely end up having to switch to the slower VSAT.

The reason one sim card lets you down is simple – it kept asking for connection from the cellular tower and sometimes it got a better response, sometimes worse.

If you got a Pepwave with multiple sim cards, you may think you made your connection 4 times faster? Well, not exactly.

More sim cards can take more load: you can be streaming a movie via one card, your Chief Stewardess may be ordering supplies online via the other card, the owner’s wife is browsing Instagram and the kids are Skyping with their friends. All 4 cards are busy.

But as you noticed, you are still streaming your movie via one sim card. And your movie still interrupts and freezes just like it did when you used a device with only 1 sim card in it.

There is a much better way to use 4G to stream a movie, browse internet, Skype and Instagram at the same time. What you need to do is to simply take all these tasks and let all 4 sim cards take care of each.

In simpler words, you can stream your movie utilising connections of all 4 sim cards. Then if one sim card lets you down, chances are that one or two of the other ones will not. They basically work as a team.

And that is exactly what connection aggregation is, and this is what Meridian 4G device allows you to do, allowing you to get the maximum possible speed that does not fluctuate and freeze your movie.

To give you an idea, we work with more than 150 superyachts including such notable boats as Ecliplse, Dilbar, Pelorus, Radiant fleet, Nirvana, Musashi and many more. And those boats report an average reliable speed of 160 Mbit/s down, and 40 up.

Read testimonials

4G solution,
not just a device

orange-yacht

You probably use 4G onboard your boat already, be it with a single SIM card router or a device like Pepwave. Yet you notice that even though 4G can be extremely fast compared to VSAT, it can also be extremely unreliable.

Starting from the hassle of sourcing sim cards with adequate data packages only to see those cards get throttled once you cross the waters into another country. To being in a busy port with an overloaded network that affects your connection unpredictably. Or simply cruising along the coast loosing the connection shortly after the departure from the port.

What if I tell you that there is a solution that can address all the above and allow you to take full advantage of the 4G signal up to 40 km offshore?

“It is not just their device, it is the entire solution that makes 4G work reliably onboard a yacht”

Motoryacht NIRVANA

The only way to create such a solution is by understanding that there are various factors that affect 4G performance onboard superyachts.

It is the device you use, how it allocates the load among multiple sim cards, what contracts your sim cards have when on roaming, what creates delays (latency). And last but not least what happens when you move away from the shore.

Through years of testing in real environment onboard constantly moving superyachts we were able to address all those factors one by one and achieve a constantly stable, reliable and ultra-fast connection. Here is how we did that:

We started by analyzing how a device with one sim card (like your mobile phone) performs in a busy port. Extreme example of this is the Monaco Yacht Show – ever experienced not being able to even send a WhatsApp then?

To give you an idea this is what our solution delivered during MYS 2017:

MYS Interface load

In other words, while everyone struggled to get online we managed to have an average speed of 255 Mbit/s down and 15 up!

How did we do that? (No, we did not hack Monaco telecom or anything like this). First, we used 4 sim cards that had a special contract ensuring that the cards would not get throttled by Monaco Telecom (or any other network in the Med). That was very helpful by itself, as we then had a huge competitive advantage compared to thirty thousand people that attended the Show.

Second, we monitored how each card functioned at any given point in time. In other words, given that each card’s connection quality still fluctuated we could see what cards had better connection and could take more load as a result. With that information at hand, we could allocate the load that each card could handle at any given moment.

To illustrate: lets say we decided to broadcast our busy stand at the show as a live video on Facebook. If our device worked like Pepwave, we could only do that via one sim card at a time. We would still be able to choose the one that delivered the best connection when we started. However, the connection would have likely changed all the time creating interruptions in our video. Not good.

So we solved that too. By figuring out a way to use all four cards simultaneously by aggregating the connection. In simpler words, some of our video would be broadcasted via card 1, some via card 2 and so on, taking into account how much each card can handle at any point in time. Smart, isn’t it?

“You can stream several movies in parallel without interruption, even in 4K! Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Apple TV, Kartina, SkyGo, Youtube etc”

As you probably guessed we did not really do all that work manually. The device we displayed aggregated the connection, selected the best available network, cellular tower, frequency, and monitored every other possible factor that could affect the connection, constantly readjusting to keep the connection stable all the time.

We also used SIM cards with special contracts that cover almost all yachting destinations without ever running out of high speed data. In case you are curious about the cost we have a plan that offers a flat rate of €500/month for unlimited data in the Mediterranean (set of 4 sim cards €2000).

We also found a way to extend coverage up to 40 km offshore by using proprietary signal amplifiers, and secured the connection with multiple encryption levels that is virtually impossible to break.

If this sounds like a good solution to you please contact us: