In 1981, Richard Hadsall founded Crescomm Transmission Services, Inc., a satellite common carrier to provide satellite services to the broadcast industry. Crescomm specialized in providing transportable satellite uplink/downlink services and point-to-point portable microwave services to the broadcast industry. Three years later, the company leased land in Holmdel, New Jersey to begin building its first teleport. The location, coincidentally, is on Telegraph Hill, site of the first transatlantic broadcast by Guglielmo Marconi from New Jersey in 1899.
Crescomm had the opportunity to support U.S. President Ronald Reagan’s visit to the Island of Granada in 1986. The organization provided emergency communications backup through a transportable truck that was on site to provide press pool feeds for the networks as well as for the Pentagon. Due to the success of the mission, the Pentagon requested the company to provide a stabilized antenna platform capable of transmitting a full motion video broadcast at sea, to which Richard Hadsall happily obliged.
This opportunity opened the door for a very strategic relationship to begin between Crescomm and SeaTel, a maritime-based stabilized TVRO antenna manufacturer. This was a perfect fit for the two companies, as SeaTel had the patent on gyro stabilized TVRO antennas and Crescomm had the FCC license for the very small aperture terminal (VSAT) terminal to transmit. The first maritime antenna built by the Crescomm and SeaTel partnership operated in Ku-Band frequency. Intelsat authorized it as a Standard “G” terminal and assigned the authorization code of CRE-6G. It was first used on the U.S. Navy’s LPH-2 USS Iwo Jima and became the first tactical full motion Ku-Band satellite video broadcast terminal at sea. This system supported classified surveillance video and the Pentagon press pool during the Persian Gulf Crisis.
Two years later, Dr. Bob Ballard from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, contracted Crescomm to provide live full-time video broadcasts at sea for a scientific project. Dr. Ballard used an undersea robot to discover shipwrecks and relics that dated as far back as 400 B.C. The live footage broadcast from CRE-6G was received in Ku-Band via the Holmdel teleport and rebroadcast via C-Band satellite to the Smithsonian Institute, National Geographic, and NBC’s Today Show.
In 1990, the CBS Morning Show contacted Crescomm to provide live video broadcast on a Carnival Cruise Lines ship while sailing in the Caribbean. Crescomm rose to the occasion once again by delivering a weeklong broadcast. The cruise officers were impressed with the clarity of the voice and the ability of the antenna to provide simultaneous voice, faxing and data capabilities, and were quick to advise Carnival headquarters of this new communications system.
Following the successful broadcast from the Carnival ship, Crescomm began to demonstrate the new system to the cruise line industry and, in 1991, Norwegian Cruise Line was next to test the system on one of its ships, the Norwegian Seaward. During this first permanent VSAT installation, Crescomm and SeaTel began an official partnership and named the company Maritime Telecommunications Network (MTN). By 1993, MTN had installed its VSAT system on 14 cruise vessels and, in 1994, installed the first commercial C-Band antenna on a U.S. Navy vessel.
In the mid-90s, the company changed ownership a few times but Richard Hadsall remained with MTN. By 1997, MTN was the largest C-Band maritime telecommunications provider, with a 70% share of the cruise market, and significant business with the U.S. Navy, as well as offshore oil and gas operators. Today MTN is owned by SeaMobile and it is headquartered in Miramar, Florida with offices around the globe. MTN currently serves approximately 36 of the world’s leading cruise lines, more than 30 offshore oil and gas vessels, and more than 300 yachts, with a focus on vessels larger than 40 meters. Based in Leesburg, Va., MTN Government Services (MTNGS), a subsidiary of MTN, opened its branch in 2009 to focus on solutions for the government sector. MTNGS is dedicated to serving classified and unclassified needs of the military and government with a range of turn-key global communication solutions.
MTN has been an innovator since day one and continues to revolutionize how people are connected as they move around the world for work and pleasure, to some of the most remote locations. MTN is dedicated to providing its customers state-of-the-art technology and service excellence to deliver unmatched industry value. Its markets have embraced MTN’s services, and the company is adding capabilities which allow customers unmatched Internet access and applications while at sea. These services offer a value-added benefit that brings more passengers onboard, as well as an on-board source of revenue for MTN’s direct customers, in addition to increasing crew morale and impacting the operator’s bottom line.
Along these lines, in November 2012, MTN launched plans for a next-generation hybrid communications network, MTN Nexus™. Connectivity and content demands on cruise operators, specifically, increase significantly as cruise passenger and crew communications requirements grow. This new network will deliver sophisticated computing, caching and security infrastructure to deliver connectivity and communications to a degree never realized before at sea and in port. Passengers and crew at sea no longer accept limitations — they want to stream video, post social media updates and share images with co-workers, friends and family off – and even on – their ship. MTN Nexus will bridge the gap between land-based and sea-based connectivity and content delivery to cater to today’s always-connected passengers and crew.