Both R/V Neil Armstrong and R/V Atlantis will have expanded bandwidth at sea for the rest of 2023. The faster upload and download speeds are part of a fleetwide trial, funded by the Office of Naval Research (ONR), and are for use by everyone sailing—crew as well as science parties.
“This bandwidth is to increase morale and communications for everyone on board,” said Sarah Fuller, the operations manager for shipboard scientific services at WHOI. “But it’s critical as ship equipment is brought into the 21st century and gets more complicated. Expanded bandwidth has become essential for remote troubleshooting, and that is one of the main reasons ONR is trialing this increase.”
Faster data speeds will also allow for a wide range of telepresence and data exchange that was difficult at former speeds, including remote participation on scientific expeditions, the ability for students or professors to attend classes on shore during a cruise, and much faster transfer of data back to shore.
“This will increase the inclusivity of our at-sea operations,” Fuller added. "People who can’t go to sea—because of medical, teaching responsibilities, or family commitments—who are experts in their fields will be able to meaningfully participate from shore.”
Armstrong will have 8x8 bandwidth (8 Mb/s upload and 8 Mb/s download), with bursts up to 10x10 through midsummer, at which point it will increase when the vessel starts going to higher latitudes. Atlantis will have 20x20. These data speeds are not unlimited, Fuller noted, and will still require coordination. Science parties that have regularly scheduled video calls during an expedition should include these on their schedules so they can coordinate with ship crew.
The contract to expand bandwidth across the UNOLS fleet is through HiSeasNet, operated by Jon Meyer, Information Systems Manager at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego. More details and a bandwidth schedule are available here.