Sky Perfect Jsat investing $4.5 million in maritime satcom company KVH

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WASHINGTON — Asia’s largest geostationary satellite operator Sky Perfect Jsat has agreed to buy $4.5 million worth of stock in U.S. maritime connectivity company KVH Industries.

Japan-based Sky Perfect Jsat and long-time satellite capacity customer KVH said Feb. 28 that they expect the deal to close later this week, and will spur additional joint work on products for internet access out at sea.

“For years, the collaboration of KVH and SJC has developed the Asian shipping market with excellent satellite communications services, and we look forward to continuing our relationship,” Shinji Takada, SJC’s chief executive officer said in a statement. “Our investment is based on our conviction that KVH’s superior technology, equipment, and services are crucial at this time of digitalization in the maritime industry.”

The investment agreement comes just three months after Sky Perfect Jsat and Middletown, Rhode Island-based KVH teamed up on a next-generation broadband service focused on higher speed connectivity to ships, including connecting onboard sensors and devices for maritime “Internet of Things” applications.

Japan has the third-largest volume of maritime traffic in the world, following China and Greece. Satellite companies that provide connectivity to maritime vessels note that many are currently in the process of upgrading from low-bandwidth safety services to higher speed broadband using very small aperture terminals, or VSATs. Regional competitor KT Sat of South Korea expanded into the Japanese maritime market last summer with Tokyo-based Hun’s Corp. in order to sell its maritime VSAT products there.

KVH CEO Martin Kits van Heyningen said KVH continues to have the largest market share in global maritime VSAT, a title bestowed by satellite research group Comsys in 2014. Comsys said 17.9 percent of all maritime vessels using VSAT that year were relying on KVH “mini-VSAT Broadband” antennas.

Sky Perfect Jsat highlighted KVH’s new TracPhone V7-HTS satellite antenna system, which enables download speeds of 10 Mbps and upload speeds of 3 Mbps, during a Feb. 8 presentation to investors. The satellite operator launched an upgraded maritime service this month called “OceanBB plus” in cooperation with KVH.