Crew Con­nec­tiv­ity Cen­sus

Re­cent mar­ket indi­ca­tions re­veal that there’s money to be made, crews will­ing to part with cash for con­nec­tiv­ity on­board and, as of yet, some un­tapped re­sources. But how to claim a piece of the pie? In this Spe­cial In­sight Report we take a look at some of

OffComm News - - FRONTPAGE -

The cur­rent state of crew con­nec­tiv­ity and what they are will­ing to pay to stay in touch

Help­ing a re­mote work­force stay in touch with friends and fam­ily is a

cru­cial part of a ship op­er­a­tor’s op­er­a­tional struc­ture. It is also be­com­ing a gen­eral ex­pec­ta­tion of the sea­far­ers.

An in­dus­try poll re­vealed that, just five

years ago, peo­ple didn’t see the in­ter­net as a ba­sic re­quire­ment or even an ex­pec­ta­tion. How­ever, the ex­plo­sion of pocket de­vices with the abil­ity to get on­line any­where any­time ( ac­cess de­pend­ing) has changed all this dra­mat­i­cally. To­day, 85 per­cent said yes it was be­com­ing an ex­pec­ta­tion. While

it’s true that we as a species wont die

with­out it, many feel that con­nec­tiv­ity

is be­com­ing their ‘ right’. And if cur­rent fig­ures in­di­cate the pro­gres­sive na­ture of that ex­pec­ta­tion, then the weight in

the yes bank can only in­crease. So it’s good to see re­mote op­er­a­tors are talk­ing about new ways to im­prove crew com­mu­ni­ca­tion on­board. How­ever, with in­creased ac­cess comes the need for in­creased con­trol over data quo­tas for in­di­vid­ual users. Many in the in­dus­try be­lieve that 2013 will see a steep rise in us­age quo­tas in a bid to help re­tain crew mo­rale. The I nter­na­tional La bour Or­ga­ni­za­tion Mar­itime Labour Con­ven­tion 2006 reg­u­la­tions will come into force in Septem­ber 2013, mak­ing whole­sale changes to on­board crew wel­fare. It in­cludes rec­om­men­da­tions for rea­son­able ac­cess to, ship- to- shore tele­phone com­mu­ni­ca­tions, email and in­ter­net fa­cil­i­ties, where avail­able with any charges for the use of th­ese ser­vices be­ing rea­son­able in amount. See page 10 to see what crews are will­ing to spend on con­nec­tiv­ity. Tra­di­tion­ally crew com­mu­ni­ca­tion used to be only ba­sic voice but now with smart phones and tablets data is as im­por­tant as voice to keep the crew happy and in touch with the rest of the world. In­creas­ingly com­pa­nies now

in­clude ‘ in­ter­net on­board’ in their re­cruit­ment ad­ver­tis­ing to at­tract the best tal­ent.

The cur­rent crew call­ing op­tions al­low ship own­ers to seg­re­gate the busi­ness op­er­a­tional voice calls from those of a per­sonal na­ture. This re­duces the time spent ac­count­ing and cal­cu­lat­ing the costs of crew voice us­age. How­ever, a bar­rier to ship own­ers pro­vid­ing crew call­ing on­board is

that some op­er­a­tions can’t af­ford it, un­less they have op­tions like chat cards where they can charge back to the crew. Pre­paid call­ing cards may be the best choice if a com­pany wants its crew ser­vice to be iso­lated from the busi­ness and, is only pre­pared to of­fer its crew pre­paid voice ac­cess. If a com­pany is look­ing at a long term crew com­mu­ni­ca­tion op­tion for voice and data ac­cess or, is look­ing to con­sol­i­date its busi­ness and crew pre­paid call­ing us­age, an op­tion with a smart on­board box could pro­vide the best way for­ward. Voice over IP ( VoIP) has been gain­ing pop­u­lar­ity in the mar­itime in­dus­try by pro­vid­ing crew with cheap ac­cess to voice call­ing. While VoIP can be viewed as a cheap alternative to PSTN, it is al­ways ad­vis­able to com­pare the voice qual­ity de­liv­ered by this ser­vice and the true cost of VoIP. Ap­pli­ca­tions, such as Skype, use very high band­width as it was de­signed to work in a ter­res­trial en­vi­ron­ment. Some in the mar­itime in­dus­try con­sider it slow and ex­pen­sive over

sat­coms when com­pared to to­day’s ter­res­trial stan­dards. For ex­am­ple, a one minute VoIP call would re­quire ap­prox­i­mately 1 Mb of data, ren­der­ing VoIP at sea more ex­pen­sive than a tra­di­tional PSTN voice ser­vice of­fered by sat­coms providers. In ad­di­tion, a two to three sec­ond de­lay is of­ten ex­pe­ri­enced by users of VoIP ap­pli­ca­tion over sat­coms ser­vices.

VoIP may ap­pear like an at­trac­tive propo­si­tion to the mar­itime in­dus­try but once the true cost and qual­ity of the ser­vice is com­pared, with the qual­ity and cost of a PSTN ser­vice, the value of switch­ing to VoIP is not as it first ap­pears. Satel­lite op­er­a­tors con­tinue to re­duce the price of their voice pric­ing and the qual­ity of calls de­liv­ered is im­prov­ing, mak­ing it a more vi­able propo­si­tion to the mar­ket.

NSSL Crew Card Ser­vice

In 2009 NSSL Global, an in­de­pen­dent ser­vice provider for satel­lite com­mu­ni­ca­tions so­lu­tions launched its Fleet­Broad­band- based Crew Card ser­vice which of­fers a 24/ 365 ex­clu­sive tar­iff any­where in the world via In­marsat or NSSL Global’s own cruise net­work, from ded­i­cated tele­phones.

Fleet­Broad­band Mul­tivoice

Fleet­Broad­band Mul­tivoice al­lows up to nine si­mul­ta­ne­ous calls to be made through a sin­gle ter­mi­nal. Ves­sels that re­quire more than one voice­line will ben­e­fit from Fleet­Broad­band Multi- voice. Im­ple­men­ta­tion is flex­i­ble, for ex­am­ple, the bridge can be as­signed as the pri­mary in­bound call­ing unit, al­low­ing the re­main­ing lines to be ac­cessed from the ship’s PABX net­work. Crew mem­bers can then make per­sonal calls in pri­vacy, us­ing pre­paid cards, with no dis­rup­tion to bridge op­er­a­tions.


Globe Mo­bile, from mar­itime so­lu­tions provider Globe Wire­less, of­fers mariners the con­ve­nience of us­ing their own GSM phones over Fleet­Broad­band, for stan­dard voice calls to and from the ves­sel, SMS and roam­ing on­shore. Mariners in­sert a pre­pay SIM card to send and re­ceive calls and texts in pri­vate. The SIM can be recharged at any time.

Comm­Box Ship / Shore Net­work Man­ager

A net­work man­age­ment tool for mariners, with web caching and web im­age com­pres­sion to re­duce band­width re­quire­ments. It ben­e­fits op­er­a­tions, char­ters and/ or crew and op­tions for in­ter­net café and VoIP so­lu­tions. Com­pat­i­ble with mar­itime com­mu­ni­ca­tions ser­vices in­clud­ing In­marsat, mini- VSAT Broad­band, VSAT, GSM & WiFi; the Comm­Box from KVH features low cost rout­ing, pre­paid roam­ing crew ac­counts and data com­pres­sion fa­cil­i­ties. Us­age can be mon­i­tored in real time.

Amos Con­nect Crew

Amos Con­nect Crew of­fers email, SMS, in­ter­net and voice. It op­er­ates en­tirely sep­a­rately from busi­ness com­mu­ni­ca­tion but still al­lows the IT de­part­ment to con­trol the us­age and de­fine poli­cies. Crew can en­joy the flex­i­bil­ity of a per­sonal email box that can be used on any ves­sel with Amos Con­nect Crew on­board. This prod­uct au­to­mat­i­cally com­presses emails to give bet­ter mileage to the crew.

Crew email so­lu­tions al­low ship own­ers/ man­agers to pro­vide the fa­cil­ity for crew to stay in touch with friends and fam­i­lies but con­trol the costs. Th­ese so­lu­tions let ship own­ers set the rules for mail size and at­tach­ments, con­trol mail boxes and set quo­tas from the shore.


SkyFile Mail from Astrium, pro­vides re­li­able and cost­ef­fec­tive email, fax and SMS mes­sag­ing. It has an ef­fec­tive anti- virus and anti- spam fil­ter, is avail­able in nine lan­guages which can be used si­mul­ta­ne­ously on dif­fer­ent ac­counts. It uses the same soft­ware for pre­paid or post­paid com­mu­ni­ca­tion. It is able to com­press data up to 90 per­cent mak­ing it very cost ef­fec­tive.

Mar­link CrewE­mail

Email and SMS soft­ware that can be re­motely ac­cessed at on­shore in­ter­net ac­cess points, en­abes mariners to use the same ser­vice from any lo­ca­tion ashore. It also al­lows them to keep the same email ad­dress if they move to a new CrewE­mail equipped ves­sel. File size lim­its can be set us­ing per­sonal fil­ters. Us­age can be con­trolled by the use of pre­paid cards or a quota sys­tem. Pre­paid call­ing card users ben­e­fit from pre­paid mes­sag­ing when used to­gether with SkyFile ® Mail, ad­vanced email­ing soft­ware for use with satel­lite ter­mi­nals.

Vir­tual vouch­ers and seg­re­ga­tion are im­por­tant for crew and busi­ness net­works on­board op­er­at­ing in iso­la­tion. The crew net­work ac­tiv­ity must not pose any risk to busi­ness ap­pli­ca­tions.

Evosat (Globe­com SA) MWC

Evosat in­tro­duced Mo­rale and Wel­fare Com­mu­ni­ca­tions ( MWC) for its Fleet­Broad­band cus­tomers in 2010. MWC is a con­ve­nient pre­paid crew call­ing of­fer­ing that gives mariners voice and in­ter­net ac­cess, with zero risk or in­vest­ment for the bill payer. In­ter­face users ac­cess it via a web browser, where crew can upload vir­tual pre­paid vouch­ers or check their bal­ance.

In­fin­ity by Navarino

In­fin­ity al­lows ship own­ers/ man­agers to max­imise data al­lowance pack­ages with band­width man­age­ment and op­ti­mi­sa­tion so­lu­tions. It also of­fers ship own­ers the flex­i­bil­ity to cre­ate vir­tual vouch­ers that can be based on mon­e­tary value, data/ voice us­age or time based, that can be shared be­tween crew voice and data. In­fin­ity also of­fers a fire­wall, com­pres­sion, con­tent man­age­ment as well as email for crew and busi­ness.

Astrium ( Vizada) XChange and Uni­ver­sal Card

Vizada XChange is a plat­form that pro­vides ship own­ers & man­agers with con­nec­tiv­ity to de­liver voice, data and in­ter­net ac­cess. It of­fers a num­ber of value added ser­vices for the crew in­clud­ing: on­board data caching, free on­board news con­tent, me­dia file shar­ing, on­de­mand train­ing ma­te­rial and voice calls us­ing own smart phones. Uni­ver­sal Card en­ables crew to use the in­ter­net on­board as well as make voice calls and send emails and text mes­sages via Fleet­Broad­band. Crew can pur­chase pre­paid 30 or 50 minute com­mu­ni­ca­tions credit with a stan­dard per­sonal debit or credit card.

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