$33.3m untapped revenue per annum
2% or 18,500 seafarers are currently without access to any form of crew communications
If each unconnected person paid $ 150 per month for a data quota ~ a notion that seems acceptable for
most ~ there’s an opportunistic
market value of $ 33.3m
Top Line Findings
Many seafarers are prepared to pay for connectivity. The emergence of onboard hybrid networks with VSAT and MSS empowers owners to provide the levels of reliable and cost effective connectivity to support changing communication usage patterns. BYOD and social media are driving connectivity requirements. Facebook highlighted as one of the most popular web destinations for crews.
Shipping companies able to offer strong crew welfare packages are better positioned to recruit from the limited pool of talent and increase staff loyalty.
The popularity of using one's own device shows that owners investing in vessel-wide broadband connectivity and corresponding WiFi connections ~ to provide either free or low cost internet access ~ will experience return in terms of crew recruitment and retention. This is especially important considering that the lack of qualified officers continues to grow, from a deficit of 10,000 to
13,000 between 2005– 2010. Web compression and filtering help to control communication cost and make crew communications affordable. Moreover, the Crew PC, configured for safe, efficient and unsupervised private usage can serve as a personal communications centre. Another way of organising crew voice and data usage is offered by XChange, Astrium Services' integrated solutions platform. Over XChange crew can use their personal laptop or tablet in the privacy of their living quarters and can make voice calls via their own smartphones.
Free Communications Access
Increased levels of access to communications infrastructure onboard are clearly demonstrated by this survey, 68 percent of seafarers can now use some form of crew communication most or all of the time when at sea. Given this reported level of access we can therefore extra polate that 629,000 seafarers onboard 30,600 vessels are now able to access crew communications on a regular basis. Levels of internet provision were very high in the offshore and cruise ~ yet low in the bulk, general cargo and container sectors. The car carrier sector provided comparatively high levels of internet access at over 60 percent which indicates higher levels of VSAT penetration within this small group. Despite having access whilst at sea 46 percent of respondents were not provided with any form of free communications services by ship operators. Interestingly, officers were provided more free communications than ratings. The service most often provided free of charge to seafarers was text only emails with no attachments but this was only available to 20 percent of respondents. Other services were typically available free to less than 15 percent. The lack of free communications at sea is further reinforced when examining responses by sector: 66 percent of respondents from the passenger sector were not provided any free communications services, despite having the highest levels of comms equipment onboard. Crew in many major commercial sectors also fared badly. Only the offshore sector, where qualified crew are in short supply and charterer requirements dictate high bandwidth satellite solutions, are crew communications widely available free of charge.
Most noticeably it is the sector with the greatest range of service provision that provides the least free of charge access to crew.
Many shipping companies face staff retention issues and communication services can represent an attractive incentive to crew members," says Tilmann Michalke, senior product manager for crew communications with Astrium Services.
When it came to accessing crew communications onboard, crew rated issues of cost, quality, privacy and security as highly important. Call quality was rated the most important element in service delivery. This was followed by price, security and finally privacy. Officers rated all service delivery elements higher than ratings, especially when it came to security. When asked their preferred method of access to non- voice crew communications the clear answer was by use of a laptop with a WiFi connection. This scored highest across all vessel types, age ranges and seafarer ranks.