Marine Communications Leader KVH Introduces LTE System for Fast, Affordable Internet Access Offshore

Boaters can enjoy significantly higher data speeds and greater Internet range offshore than cellphones alone provide, in an all-in-one solution

MIDDLETOWN, RI – June 20, 2018 – KVH Industries, Inc., a leading global satellite communications provider, is introducing the TracPhone LTE-1 marine communications system designed to provide Internet access in U.S. waters more than 20 miles offshore, with data download speeds up to 100 Mbps. The system, which utilizes LTE Advanced (LTE-A) cellular network technology, is compact and affordable enough for a vast array of small and mid-size recreational boats—including sailboats, center consoles, fishing boats, and more—that until now have had few options besides the boater’s own cellphone for accessing the Internet while on the water. With the TracPhone LTE-1, boaters can access the Internet at twice the range and up to 10 times the data speed of typical cellphone performance offshore, with connectivity for multiple onboard devices.

“We used the TracPhone LTE-1 on our 36 Invincible, Gaff Reflexes, for a saltwater fishing tournament, and we were far enough offshore to where we typically lose signal, but with the LTE-1 we never lost service,” says Kirk Beattie, owner of Preferred Marine Sales Group, in Pompano Beach, FL. “We were streaming music clearer than ever, and Wi-Fi-based telephone and email applications came through with no problem. KVH’s TracPhone LTE-1 is truly impressive equipment: The size is perfect, it can fit on any center console, and you can’t beat the performance and clarity.”

The TracPhone LTE-1 is designed to enable various applications for mobile connectivity, such as streaming HD videos and music; Wi-Fi-based voice, messaging, collaboration, and video applications; browsing the Internet; and posting on social media—all while offshore.

“We believe the TracPhone LTE-1 will be a game changer for boaters who want to stay connected with HD streaming, video chatting, and more,” says Martin Kits van Heyningen, KVH’s chief executive officer. “We’ve taken the same end-to-end approach we use with our satellite-based products to offer the best experience for our customers by providing everything they need—from hardware to airtime—to enjoy fast Internet access on the boat.”

A complete system, the TracPhone LTE-1 includes a high-gain dual antenna array, modem, GPS, and Wi-Fi router inside a 34 cm (13 in) diameter dome. A single cable connects the antenna to a belowdecks Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) injector to provide power to the system. The PoE can also be used to create a local area network (LAN) to facilitate faster data speeds; without the LAN, users can rely solely on the secure Wi-Fi router built into the dome to provide easy, convenient connectivity. The TracPhone LTE-1 uses cellular technology from two of the leading LTE carriers in the U.S., automatically switching between them to ensure the most seamless coverage available.

The TracPhone LTE-1 system is priced at $1,699 MSRP, with a flexible, month-to-month airtime plan providing 20 GB of data for $199 per month with no annual contract; the cost for additional data is $9.99 per gigabyte. The system is designed for use in U.S. waters only (including Hawaii and Alaska), and KVH is exploring expanding the product for use beyond U.S. waters in the future.

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6 Responses

  1. Bryan Austin says:

    I don’t see the “game changer” in this. Equipment price is in line with setting up my own cellular hotspot & booster/external antenna and wifi router. At $200 for 20MB, that won’t allow you to use the system for regular streaming. The game changer will be real unlimited data plans. You can find them now on eBay (right or wrong) for $30-$150 per month. Shakespeare has an all-in-one system and there are others. I like the product and I’m sure it operates very well. Without unlimited data service, Internet use is realistically limited to non-video streaming. And I can get data plans for that much cheaper.

  2. Chris Witzgall says:

    Bryan, I think the big difference is that once you get a few miles offshore, you need a satellite system that costs much much more per gig of data. So this fills a sweet spot for those users. How far offshore does your system work? There are still cellular dead spots where boats go as well, on the ICW, etc.

    If they can get this up and running in the Bahamas it will be huge for many boaters that go there + the eastern coast of the US only.

    • Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

      Well, I did just experience fast Verizon 4G while 20 miles and more off the coast much of the way from Cape Cod Canal to Penobscot Bay using just my Pixel 2 phone, Surecall Fusion2Go booster, and Digital Antenna bullet (after my “unlimited” plan had started a new monthly cycle 😉

      But KVH is capable of a different level. I understand, for instance, the LTE-1 is already built to most every international cell standard and they’re working on service plans outside the U.S. I believe that they’re also able to monitor and update an LTE-1 remotely. I don’t know if they can secure Bahamas cell service, but if they do, I suspect it will be effortless to use for LTE-1 owners.

  3. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Hi Bryan, “game changer” often makes me cringe, but I do think that this LTE-1 is a different game than putting together your own system, and possibly even the all-in-one Shakespeare, Glomex, and Winegard marine cell systems. Because it’s not only an all-in-one hardware system but also an end-to-end system, meaning KVH also manages the service. Plus there are indications that KVH has come up with long range cell performance that’s not available elsewhere.

    I’m a DIY type myself, but, man, I spent a lot of time during the last two cruising months wrestling with “Unlimited” Verizon cell service (I question if there are “real” unlimited plans), cell booster, WiFi boosters and various WiFi services to fill in where Verizon wouldn’t, etc. etc. $200 for 20 gigs and $10 per 10g additional from a really simple single reputable marine vendor system might have been a really good trade if it works as promised.

    • Bryan Austin says:

      I am possibly (naively) biased in that my marine cellular experience only includes up-down the Texas coast. I do get some dropouts when I’m outside of 10 miles or so. I guess KVH is “tuned” to the better LTE-1 band. Seems like LTE-Advanced service will provide as much or better performance. Just need that to continue to expand across the coast.

  1. June 20, 2018

    […] announced they’ve entered the cellular internet market with the TracPhone LTE-1.  Their marketing materials say it can deliver “Double the coverage and 10x faster speed at […]

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