Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) regarding elements of the HiSeasNet project.


Frequently asked questions and answers regarding services. See our Services page for more information.

Question Answer
Why do you provide network connectivity with 1990s speed? Put simply, we do not want to, but have budget constraints. Satellite-based Internet at “normal” speed (E.G. Cellular LTE) is roughly 3-4 orders of magnitude more expensive than your cellular plan, and it is currently not possible with our funding levels to buy this regularly. As such, we aim to provide the best possible throughput we can, within the budget we have
I don’t want to remember the 1990s. Why don’t you advocate for more funding? We absolutely have, for years. Please bear in mind that we would need funds for our fleet, which consists of multiple systems on multiple ships. That compounded need adds up very quickly. Extreme budget shifts in science equipment and/or days at sea might have to diminish in order to change that
That sounds hopeless. Will I ever see a increase of provided nominal throughput? We have done that for years, albeit slowly. Funding was increased in 2014 and rebalanced in 2020 toward that end. Any time we see a fiscally responsible way to upgrade throughput, we will. This approach is slower than everyone wants, but progress is happening
I still don’t like this. What can I do to help you get more and permanent funding? Provide your/our program manager(s) with defensible facts about what your bandwidth needs are for research. Either explain why a 21st century level of bandwidth is required to meet your current scientific outcomes (good), or how that level of bandwidth would advance or innovate scientific outcomes in the field (better). The more facts our funding agencies have, the better case we have to move forward. HiSeasNet advocating alone is less powerful than you advocating with us; we need and welcome your help
I hear LEO satellites solve this. Why don’t you go buy that? While we are very interested in this, and aim to leverage technology like this ASAP, there is presently no production-worthy LEO satellite constellation that has a worldwide work area and meets or beats geostationary levels of performance and cost
I want the vessel I am sailing on to work more like a building, in terms of Internet. What can be done? A building with a similar personnel count to your vessel would typically have an Internet link rated between 50 Megabits per second to 1 Gigabit per second (aka 50,000-1,000,000 kbit/s, aka 6-128 MegaBytes/s). Achieving such speeds via satellite is likely to be possible over time via LEO, but it is currently not broadly practicable. While we wait for more performant satellite constellations, and the budget to use them, seagoing communications are likely to be somewhere between 1-2 orders of magnitude slower than typical building Internet throughput.
Can supplemental funds increase the throughput of our data plan? Yes
I need a lot of telepresence due to operational need of coordinating with personnel off ship. What do I do? Ideally, tell us where the funds are coming from and notify us 90 days in advance, or more. We also ask you to be understanding that, as of 2020, not all vessels have been engineered for stable, always-on network connectivity at sea (we aim to change this over several years). Currently, sea conditions and heading or latitude can cause network stability issues that are challenging for most people to predict. We also ask you to understand that there are currently financial constraints to what can be supported in terms of throughput, so you may have to consider a more complex solution that requires less bandwidth as a result


Frequently asked questions and answers regarding suspensions.

Question Answer
When should I suspend my satcoms plans? When a stable, terrestrial link (shoreline, WiFi, cellular) is available for one month or more to your ship (E.G. many shipyards, home port layup, etc), we ask you to work with us to suspend your HiSeasNet-provided plan(s)
I use those links! Why should I suspend my satellite communications plan(s)? Funded research pays for your satcoms. When a ship sits with no funded research for extended periods of time, this increases the day rate for satcoms. In coordination with you, HiSeasNet can make planned suspensions part of our budgeting process which will help keep costs lower for all stakeholders. Also, there are certain conditions where you may be required by law to secure transmission near land, meaning you would not be able to use your system anyway. We recommend ships to pursue shoreline/WiFi/cellular uplinks in port as much as practicable
If you do not want me to use satcoms in port, can you provide a solution? We think that is the least burden for all parties. We are investigating doing that. Stay tuned.
How much can I suspend my satcoms plans? 6 months per year for Fleet Xpress. 3 months per year for Sealink
How do I request a suspension? Please contact us 1 week in advance or more, and tell us the start date and stop date
Oops, my suspension dates need to change because my ship’s schedule changed. What do I do? Please contact us 1 week in advance or more, and tell us the updated start date and stop date
What if I need it sooner than 1 week? We will do our best to help, but it will be a best-effort scenario with no guarantees. We understand that it is not always possible, but ask that you please attempt to avoid creating this scenario by providing initial start/stop dates that avoid worst cases as much as feasible


Frequently asked questions and answers regarding phones.

Question Answer
How are phones paid for? Currently, moderate phone usage is budgeted for by our project, per agreement with our funding agencies. Heavy use of this resource will be addressed case-by-case if/when it comes up. This policy is subject to change once we are able to consider a model that allows for ships to account for their use better. There are multiple systems to choose from and we want to test them before we deploy
Which phones should I prefer to use? Use any you need, but in terms of least cost… Sealink phones, if available, are the cheapest to use on average. A close second is the VoIP Fleet Xpress phones. Phones directly plugged into the FleetBroadband unit are most costly


Frequently asked questions and answers regarding network.

Question Answer
Will my vessel get a fixed IP address? Yes, though it can take some amount of time to provision
My firewall won’t work with your system. Can you fix it? We aim to do our best to ensure you can work, but, as of 2020, there is no defined plan as to who truly owns responsibility, here. In principle, if you can plug in a laptop and get online, we have given you what you need. We are working on figuring out a more defined structure going forward. In the meantime, you need to work, so we help how we can. However, please consider that we are not necessarily experts on systems we do not have a login to, did not specify, and did not set up
Will my vessel get my institution’s IP subnet(s) working on it? This is planned to be supported, but initial 2020 deployments will not do this in lieu of the rapid deployment schedule. We will update here when this is being rolled out


Frequently asked questions and answers regarding equipment. See our Equipment page for more information.

Question Answer
Who owns the satcoms equipment? HiSeasNet generally purchases and owns equipment as part of a fleet-wide effort. We also lease equipment from our contracted service providers. We expect to lease more equipment from 2020, onward
What kind of coaxial cable is provided for Fleet Xpress and/or Sealink systems? RFS SCF12-50JFN, 1/2” CELLFLEX Superflexible Foam-Dielectric Coaxial Cable
Why do I have to have such a big radome on my ship? 2.4 m radomes offer the best performance options for Ku-band and/or C-band. If you want high performance at lower costs, this if the radome to use. Plus, bigger radomes stand the best chance of not being subject to weather-related blockage


Frequently asked questions and answers regarding maintenance.

Question Answer
Will my system(s) receive a regular health check? Yes. HiSeasNet coordinates yearly maintenance. We will reach out to you each year to schedule this. We are happy to have you contact us if you have a great idea for timing, too
Can I get maintenance service to my vessel several times a year? This should be expected only in emergency scenarios. We budget for one regular maintenance visit per ship per year, and, fleet-wide, for several emergency visits per year. This does allow us some flexibility when a challenging problem arises for a particular vessel. However, that is a scenario we generally aim to avoid
My system won’t work and requires an expert to come service it. How do we proceed? While we aim to avoid this scenario with regular maintenance, emergencies do happen. The personnel needed to work toward solution can vary, so HiSeasNet personnel will arrange the visit in coordination with you
But my ship is pulling into a remote foreign port. Is that a problem? Our primary vendor has worldwide offices and has personnel on multiple continents. While we cannot predict all eventualities, in general terms, this is fine
How long should I expect a particular set of equipment to last? With regular maintenance, we have operated equipment up to 15 years, but this approach generally incurs service disruptions that ships increasingly cannot tolerate operationally. We are aiming for a lifecycle replacement schedule of 5-7 years, but how we afford this, as of 2020, is still being sorted out with our funding agencies


Frequently asked questions and answers regarding installations.

Question Answer
What do you mean when you say “99% uptime” or “high availability”? We believe that any satellite system capable of high performance that we install on your ship should also be highly available – 99% available, at least. The more any single network connection is always on, the less personnel aboard have to be concerned with a changing landscape in terms of Internet connectivity. Reducing or removing such concerns improves operational efficiency for all and we think it is worth the effort. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_availability for more on this subject.
Why 99%? Why not 99.9999999999999% or 100%? Generally speaking, the percentage of availability that seagoing vessels can practicably achieve is 99%, I.E. this is what commercial vendors are willing to sell for systems that will spend their time bobbing up and down in water. If a specific installation is able to do better (E.G. 99.9%), we think that is fabulous. However, to maintain realistic expectations, 99% availability is our current desired entrance criteria for any high-performance-capable system we support.
How do we get 99% for my system(s)?

Putting a high-performance radome at the very top of the vessel is a field-tested way to do this. Vessels such as R/V Roger Revelle, R/V Neil Armstrong, R/V Atlantis, R/V Thomas G. Thompson and R/V Sally Ride have or are currently making plans to install a top-of-ship radome for either Sealink or Fleet Xpress.

When not feasible, two radomes that arbitrate the signal to the below-decks gear can be considered to achieve a “full sky” view between two radomes. Vessels such as R/V Sally Ride, R/V Sikuliaq, and R/V Atlantis have or are currently making plans to install multiple radomes to achieve this for either Sealink or Fleet Xpress.

When neither is feasible, the vessel has a blockage zone that makes 99% availability unachievable. As a result, your network connection with suffer from difficult-to-predict stability issues when on in certain headings, in certain parts of the world, exacerbated by distance from the satellite in terms of longitude and latitude.

In our experience, this tends to create confusion for users and a lot more work for support staff on the vessel as well as shoreside support staff. As a result, we think the effort to achieve 99% high-availability results in a more productive solution for all stakeholders and we would be happy for you to contact us to discuss a long-term plan.

You just serviced my vessel. Why didn’t I get a 99% uptime install? While we advocate for this given the opportunity, the reality is that can mean expensive changes like relocating and/or adding radomes. This is not always possible without long-term planning. We are happy to work with you toward that end, but need your help in understanding when that can happen well in advance and we both probably need ample time to request budget toward achieving this goal
Who owns responsibility for what when we are installing new equipment or removing old equipment? The reality is complex, but we will work with you toward a functional solution. We have a responsibility matrix worksheet we review with you when planning a project of this nature
What do I do with the old radome that came off my ship? Generally, we own it, which means it is UC San Diego property on record. Therefore, it is on us to dispose of it in a compliant manner with our central Surplus department. That said, it is often impractical to ship a radome that has little/no monetary value. In this case, we fill out some university paperwork, then work with you to remove the radome, remove any equipment of value to our project, and finally coordinate a local salvage company to retrieve the dome. Since you’re the on-site expert, we aim to coordinate with you on the best logistical solution
If you’re just disposing of it, can I sell the gear myself? No. This is a policy violation for UC San Diego property