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by Matt Alderton | September 30, 2015
Carnival Corp. is expanding its WiFi@Sea connectivity network, a first-of-its-kind hybrid solution that combines satellites, onboard software, networking equipment, land-based antennas, and port connections to deliver wireless Internet to passengers aboard its cruise ships. The expansion, to nearly 40 percent of Carnival's fleet by the end of the year and to the "majority" of its fleet in 2016, will create the cruise industry's largest Wi-Fi network and one of the largest satellite mobility networks in the world.

"We know that each of our guests is looking for something different when they cruise, whether that is being completely or partially unplugged from the Internet or staying plugged in," said Reza Rasoulian, vice president of global connectivity and shipboard technology operations at Carnival Corp., whose brands include: AIDA Cruises, Carnival Cruise Line, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Seabourn, Costa Cruises, Cunard, P&O Cruises, and Fathom. "For those who want to stay connected with their life back home or research the next destination on their trip, we are offering faster, more reliable, and more affordable options to give our guests what they are looking for."

Currently deployed on 30 of its 100 ships, Carnival's WiFi@Sea network leverages more than 31 advanced satellite systems to deliver broadband connections at sea. The resulting Internet connection is up to 10 times faster than was previously available on Carnival ships.

To complement its faster Internet, Carnival also has introduced a new Internet pricing system. Whereas passengers previously were charged for the amount of time they intended to spend online, the new system offers packages based on the types of services guests plan to use on their trip. For example, guests who are only interested in using Wi-Fi to post to their social networks can purchase a basic package for a lower fee.

"As we continue to enhance our WiFi@Sea system, we implement technologies, packages, and overall approaches that will create the best experience and value for our guests wherever their cruise vacation takes them," Rasoulian continued. "We optimize all of our service layers continuously to ensure a great connectivity experience. With this approach, we are giving our guests faster Internet speeds without constraining the time they can be online through our packages, which has led to more people than ever using their devices to connect while on our ships and a steady improvement in guest satisfaction ratings as the new plans and pricing are rolled out."