Ships stage WiFi wars

It is the war of the WiFi at seas with two major cruise lines battling it out for the fastest internet service at sea.

Carnival Cruises will be outfitting their ships with a hybrid wireless network that will provide their guests with faster and more reliable connections at sea.

The system, called WiFi@sea is the first of its kind in the cruise industry, according to Carnival.

It will be joining the ranks of the world’s smartest ship, Royal Carribean’s Quantum of the Seas which already has a similar system in place.

Dubbed the world’s smartest ship, Quantum of the Seas made a quick stopover in the UK to test the new facilities.

But according to The Telegraph, not everything went to plan. Its ‘super-fast’ internet that is said to allow passengers to stream video, Skype and download emails simultaneously at speeds they would on shore did not work.

Service provider O3b Networks does not have a satellite in the UK, so while Quantum has more bandwidth than every other cruise ship in the world combined, passengers were subjected to the same patchy internet service found on other cruise ships.

Passengers also had troubles using the ship’s Royal IQ app that allows passengers to keep track of any restaurant and spa reservations.

On board Carnival’s ships, the WiFi operates uses satellites and land-based antennas installed along the company’s cruise routes.

Carnival will be spending $10 million to upgrade all of their 101 ships, which the line believes will boost revenue.

“What we have developed more than the antennas and the satellites is the capability to be able to switch from one technology to another smoothly,” said Ramon Millan, Carnival’s global chief information officer.

Mr Millan said the Internet speed was 10 times faster than the cruse line’s former satellite service and on par with speeds that cruisers are used to at home.

The system has been tested for the past two years and was recently installed on 10 ships the line sails in the Caribbean.

The system will be in place for ships on Alaskan voyages next summer and completed on ships that sail in Mediterranean, Baltic, Western Europe and Asian regions by 2016.

Most cruise lines are now finding WiFi is an important part of their offering, and the end of slow connections and sudden breaks is in sight.