Two of the major competitors that use satellites to provide Internet connectivity to cruise ships have merged, the companies announced May 11.
SeaMobile Inc., a recently founded Seattle-based company devoted to using satellite technology to provide wireless voice, data and Internet communications services to a variety of maritime clients — and particularly cruise line passengers — has acquired Maritime Telecommunications Network Inc. (MTN) for $168 million in cash.
The new company will be known as SeaMobile Enterprises, with SeaMobile and MTN working as two operating units of the new parent company . MTN will continue to work out of its Miramar, Fla. headquarters, according to Nancy Brumfield, chief marketing officer for SeaMobile Enterprises. The companies will continue to do business under their separate brands.
The acquisition has been approved by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), according to a May 11 SeaMobile press release.
SeaMobile and MTN have been competing for the same customer base since May 2005, when SeaMobile was established.
It is the companies’ similar targets but differing technologies that make the merger a good fit, Brumfield said.
SeaMobile’s technology uses satellite broadband in a way that allows customers to use their personal wireless devices, such as phones and blackberries, when at sea.
The technology is compatible with any type of wireless phone, regardless of its format. The company has worldwide roaming agreements with each mobile provider so that billing for the service goes through an individual’s home carrier.
MTN’s service is satellite-based, using Very Small Aperture Terminal technology, and provides connectivity to devices installed on ship, such as phones in passengers’ rooms or computers. Brumfield said that MTN’s technology allows for a variety of media applications previously unavailable to SeaMobile customers, such as live television feeds and shipboard ATM machines.
“We’re going after the same customer, but we have complimentary services,” Brumfield said.
Though cruise ships remain SeaMobile Enterprise’s focus, Brumfield said the company also plans to chase business in the oil and gas industry, private yachts, and military and government sectors.
The merger narrows the field of competitors in these areas, but Brumfield said there are still companies such as CapRock Communications of Texas pursuing oil and gas customers, and other wireless maritime providers such as Maritime Communications Partner of Grimstad, Norway, which pursues cruise ship customers.
William D. Marks, formerly the chief executive officer of SeaMobile now will lead the combined company.
David Kagan will stay on as president and chief executive officer of MTN, and Jack Donohue, one of SeaMobile’s founders, will lead the SeaMobile unit.