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21st January 2016

A look at the ever evolving maritime communications market

At Satcom Global we are passionate about personalized service and always providing innovative solutions that are tailored to meet the needs of our individual customers. 

As there are vessels of all shapes and sizes from leisure yachts, and fishing boats, to workboats, tankers and car carriers, the numbers, lifestyle and therefore communications needs of the captain, crew and passengers on board differ greatly.

At Satcom Global our large and varied maritime customer base touches both ends of the spectrum, consequently offering interesting insights into preferred and popular maritime communications for the different users and sectors. We wanted to offer a short round up of the current options for maritime satellite communications for different types of users on different vessels.

Starting with Inmarsat’s Fleet One, this low cost service may prove popular with smaller fishing boats and leisure cruisers such as those in Australian coastal waters, who use data sparingly for weather forecasts, catching up with those at home on email or checking in with similar vessels in the region.  

Recently very popular with our customers with medium sized vessels including tankers such as those in south-east Asia, is the value proposition from Thuraya. The Thuraya MBB service via the Orion IP terminal offers high throughput for vessels in popular shipping routes around the world, with a range of airtime plan options, all at very competitive price points.

On board the larger leisure boats and superyachts, such as those often spotted off the coast in the Mediterranean and around the Caribbean, today’s demand for 24/7 internet access is far from left on shore. There has been a surge in demand for communications which can give vacationers the ability to check social media, the latest news, and maybe do some remote-office work at any time of day. Inmarsat’s FleetBroadband and XpressLink services provide dependable, seamless voice and broadband data proving popular with this demographic. In addition, Inmarsat's Ka Band VSAT service, FleetXpress (Global Xpress for Maritime) promises to deliver unlimited data access with even greater bandwidth and access to a wide range of new content and specialist applications. Finally, Satcom Global Aura VSAT  portfolio from Satcom Global delivers high bandwidth Ku-Band services to provide industry leading flexibility and value. Available in bespoke packages with high bandwidth speeds, as well as multiple hardware and L-Band backup options, Satcom Global Aura combines easy setup and an uncomplicated installation, with a low cost of ownership to ensure customers are never faced with unexpected costs.

Large commercial ships from car carriers in the Pacific Ocean, to container ships in the Straits of Malacca off Singapore’s busy port, traditionally also favour the reliable and trustworthy Inmarsat FleetBroadband or the truly global Iridium OpenPort service. With exciting new developments from Iridium, current offerings are sure to receive a sizeable boost with the new Iridium CERTUS service launching this year, brought to us over the new Iridium NEXT satellite constellation, and the development of dedicated maritime terminals by expert manufacturers Cobham SATCOM.  

Last but not least, as touched on previously, those data hungry consumers at sea who need reliable communications on tap, whether for business operations or crew welfare, are heading in the direction of high speed VSAT services. These VSAT services such as Satcom Global Aura  offer unrivalled data speeds and unmatched performance, however in order to maximise benefits from the investments of installing VSAT on-board, ship managers and owners must secure a reliable system for satellite communications control and management. Within the Aura below deck rack, our in-house developed multi-router, IPSignature 4 provides centralised control of vessel network connections and communications over satellite.  The intuitive device supports easy switch-over from Aura VSAT to L Band back up as required, makes cost effective use of high-speed data enabling low cost crew calling voice services and provides ‘bring your own device’ wireless technology, enabling access to satellite data via personal iPhone and Android smart devices. The BYOD capabilities of IPSignature 4 enables ship owners and managers to provide crew with access to satellite data whilst at sea, which they can either gift as part of a crew welfare initiative or charge to the crew in order to recoup some of the vessel communications costs.

Whatever your requirements for connectivity at sea, we are happy to advise on the best solution. Please contact [email protected] to discuss your maritime satellite communications needs further. We would love to hear from you :)

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Maritime Satellite Communications