Demand For Data Connectivity In Shipping Industry Ascending

Credits: Tara Winstead/ Pexels

In the ninth in a series of interviews ahead of Seatrade Maritime Logistics Middle East, Ben Palmer, President, Inmarsat Maritime, London, UK, spoke to Seatrade Maritime News about developments in the technology.

Revolutionize Global Communication

In February this year, Inmarsat’s I-6 F2 satellite went up from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, to join I-6 F1, which launched from Japan in late 2021. “This launch marked another milestone as we revolutionize global communications at scale and deliver network orchestration solutions to our customers. Orchestra will be a global network including Elera L-band and Global Xpress Ka-band networks with terrestrial 5G, targeted low earth orbit (LEO) capacity, and dynamic mesh technologies..” said Ben Palmer, President, Inmarsat Maritime, London, UK. In March, Inmarsat’s I-6 F1 satellite successfully connected to new ground stations in Western Australia, doubling the capacity in the Asia Pacific region. The new capacity is highly flexible, offering 20 Ka-band spot beams per I-6 satellite that can be directed to meet customer demand second-by-second, allowing the company to steer capacity to ‘hotspots’ around the world, to prevent issues in congested areas.

“In addition to the need for flexible capacity, there’s no doubt that the satellites’ expanded L-band offering for our ELERA network has much to offer our maritime customers,” he said. In 2022, technical trials in Singapore, one of the busiest ports in the world, verified the ability of ORCHESTRA’s maritime mesh technology—in which ships are used as range-extending ‘stepping stones’—to deliver additional capacity at hotspots via unique, shore-based terrestrial networks. “We will add five more advanced spacecraft to our fleet by 2025 as part of our fully funded technology roadmap. That will allow us to continue to meet our customers’ needs into the 2030s and beyond, while enabling new technologies for a smarter, more connected Earth,” he said.

Data Hungry

“Shipping companies are more data-hungry than ever before, with the maritime industry using more data—with year-on-year demand for data more than doubling in some sectors. As this need for connectivity accelerates, so does the need for high-quality broadband to keep vessels connected wherever and whenever necessary,” he said. Fleet Xpress is not a standard VSAT service—it is a versatile, fully integrated modular solution offering shipping companies a path to operational efficiency, decarbonisation and enhanced crew welfare through Inmarsat’s suite of value added services, such as Fleet Data—sensor- and supplier-agnostic IoT platform that facilitates data collection, transfer, storage and analysis of operational data.

Palmer said ship-to-shore data connectivity was more than a bandwidth issue, as ship owners relied on more than high-bandwidth solutions to meet all their connectivity needs. In modern shipping, fast and reliable communications that support mission-critical operations, crew internet, operational safety and ship-to-shore data transfer simultaneously—all while protecting vessels from cyber-attacks—rely on bandwidth being delivered across multiple networks, he believes.

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Source: Seatrademaritime