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Satnews Daily
June 5th, 2019

Paddlewheel Riverboats Gain Broadband Connectivity Via FMC Globalsat Comms Solution

FMC GlobalSat has been selected to provide their 4G/LTSAT (Long-term Satellite) connectivity solution aboard all four American Queen Steamboat Company vessels to enable internet broadband connectivity for more than 1,000 passengers on a daily basis.

The system is currently operational aboard the flagship vessel American Queen and is being be deployed aboard the American Duchess, American Empress, and will be installed aboard the American Countess shortly. FMC GlobalSat’s system provides crew and guests with seamless broadband access that automatically switches between wireless carriers and satellite communications networks based on signal strength and throughput.

The latest addition to our fleet of authentic paddlewheelers, and the newest on U.S. rivers, the American Countess, offers many of the same exciting heartland and deep South itineraries as her sisters the American Queen and American Duchess.

The American Queen Steamboat Company operates a fleet of iconic paddlewheel riverboats along the Mississippi river and its tributaries, as well as on the Columbia and Snake rivers in the Pacific Northwest. The company is the premier riverboat cruise provider in the United States, providing guests the opportunity to explore American history from a unique on-the-river perspective.

The FMC GlobalSat platform manages all handoffs and balances network traffic automatically, ensuring that the connection is always available. The system also relies on a robust architecture that optimizes security by mitigating ‘man-in-the-middle’ attacks, making it a compelling offering for security-conscious industries.

Outfitting each of the iconic steamboat vessels with the 4G/LTSAT solution is accomplished in less than one day. The system provides usage-based access to wireless networks and satellite communications through a converged approach, which translates into a 99.9995 percent uptime.

Among the key advantages of FMC GlobalSat’s bundled solution is the use of commercial-grade prioritized 4G service which does not suffer the bandwidth issues common with consumer wireless offerings, and the automated adoption of satellite channels when wireless service is unreliable.

FMC GlobalSat employs the advanced Kymeta flat-panel satellite antenna to enhance satellite connectivity. The Kymeta antenna has no moving parts and automatically adjusts to track satellite connections while the vessel is in motion.

Emmanuel Cotrel, CEO of FMC GlobalSat, said that for years, commercial maritime operators have been forced to depend on extremely unreliable terrestrial coverage or expensive satellite connectivity to achieve even a baseline level of data and voice communications to satisfy staff and customer needs. The company's approach has been to create an intelligent service that automatically connects users with the best available bandwidth option for a particular location. Through this solution, customers can receive more reliable coverage — with greater security — and at a far lower cost.

Thurman Jones, director of information technology of American Queen Steamboat Company, said the firm's guests expect seamless and reliable connectivity as part of their cruise experience, and the experience with FMC GlobalSat thus far has exceeded expectations. FMC GlobalSat improves broadband connectivity throughout each cruise and does so at price points that are less than traditional satellite-centric broadband solutions.  FMC GloalSat anticipates that the firm's customers and crew will be pleased with the reliability and security of this new service as it is activated across our entire fleet.