(Also known as "connection aggregation")
In 2013 Meridian 4G pioneered connection bonding technology that allows merging four 4G connections (using 4 SIM cards) into one superfast secure stream. The result is a very fast, stable and secure 4G internet connection with an average speed reported onboard of 200 Mbps down, 40 up.
(As a guide, you ideally need 25 Mbps in order to stream one movie in 4K, an additional 25 Mbit/s if you plan to stream another one in parallel and so on).
An additional benefit of connection bonding is that it provides a static dedicated IP address required to stream country-specific content (US or UK Netflix, BBC player etc).
How does connection bonding work?
The connection aggregation requires multiple modems (multiple SIM cards). Given that signal quality of every connection (SIM card) constantly fluctuates we found that merging 4 connections allows to achieve the most reliable connection, even in busy ports with overloaded networks. Hence our devices have 4 modems in them.
When the users onboard send a request (stream movies, google, or have a video call) the device onboard splits every request into thousands of packets and sends it via all 4 connections, depending on how much load each connection can handle at that point in time.
That request arrives in pieces via all 4 connections to the Data Centre where a counterpart of the onboard device puts the request back together and sends it to Google, Facebook, Netflix etc (content providers).
We strategically position our data centres in the main internet hubs close to the data centres used by major content providers. As a result, we get a faster response that then is communicated back to the boat via all 4 connections and put back together by the device onboard.
Why aggregate connection?
There are multiple reasons why it helps to aggregate the connection. One simple
advantage that using multiple connections provides is more bandwidth that allows
more internet load. In the perfect 4G coverage areas this would be the main benefit
for a superyacht that usually has more traffic than any single mobile phone user.
With that said, a superyacht is rarely in the perfect 4G coverage areas and with many factors that come into play affecting 4G performance a properly equipped superyacht can derive a number of other benefits from connection aggregation.
The signal quality of every 4G connection constantly fluctuates. To illustrate,
your mobile phone's connection is not the same at all times. Sometimes it is stronger,
sometimes weaker. Such fluctuations become more apparent in busy ports with overloaded
networks (an extreme example is the Monaco Yacht Show). Signal quality changes every
second and limits the internet speed possible if only one SIM card is used.
However, if you have two mobiles next to each other, even if they connect to the same cellular tower - chances are one mobile would have a stronger connection than the other. Through extensive testing, we established that by using 4 connections (4 SIM cards) and aggregating those into one we can virtually neutralize signal fluctuations that every single modem is so vulnerable to.
For that reason, Meridian 4G's technology allows the use of four SIM cards in one device and merges four connections into one. As a result, all internet traffic routed via 4G is communicated through all 4 connections, taking into account how much load each connection can take at any given time. This allows to use the bandwidth of each connection to the fullest extent possible at all times.
To illustrate, imagine that you are streaming a movie. With connection aggregation, you will be able to stream that movie via all 4 SIM cards simultaneously. So if one card's signal gets weaker chances are the other three will have a better signal or in the very least compensate with more bandwidth combined.
Aggregation vs Load balancing
"Connection aggregation" is not the same as "load balancing". Load balancing is a very common approach used by many commercial 4G routers that allow the use of multiple SIM cards (Pepwave etc). Load balancing simply allows the device to spread the load (internet requests) evenly between several connections (SIM cards). The limitation of that approach is that if you are streaming a movie or having a video chat you will still end up using a connection of one SIM card only, being at mercy of the fluctuating signal.
Our devices allow using SIM cards of the same or different cellular operators.
However, we rarely recommend using cards from different operators. Using cards
from different operators helps if you have standard basic SIM data contracts,
cruise in areas covered by multiple cellular operators and look to avoid blind
This is usually not the best solution for a superyacht as this is counterproductive for connection aggregation (you cannot aggregate a connection that you do not have if your contract leaves one of your cards "blind" in a certain area).
The solution is to use proper SIM data contracts that don't go blind (or get throttled on roaming), and then use a device that can select the best network for all sim cards at any given point in time.
The description of the best network in this example is the network that can provide the fastest internet speed, not simply the strongest signal (highest number of bars) that most commercial devices tend to default to.
Our technology breaks the user's request down into thousands of packets, encrypts
each packet and sends the request in random data packet combinations via all 4
To make a simplified illustration, imagine googling the word "Superyacht". If every letter was a packet then the technology would first encrypt every letter with a high-grade AES, and then send letters S, E, R, C and H via one connection (probably the stronger one out of the four). Letters U, Y and C via another connection. And the rest of the letters via the remaining two, based on how much capacity every connection has.
The result is a military grade double layer encryption.