London-based satellite communications provider Inmarsat is rolling out a new set of plans for its rapidly-expanding Fleet Xpress maritime high-speed broadband service that will be specifically tailored for the unique technical and commercial requirements of offshore support vessels.
The new plans will exploit the same technical capabilities of the Fleet Xpress service, such as high-speed connections and guaranteed performance, but with added flexibility to meet the swinging data usage needs typical of the high-end OSV sector.
“When on-hire, the appetite for bandwidth from OSVs can be immense,” Inmarsat said in a statement announcing the new plans. “Projects often generate considerable volumes of data that need sending back to shore for analysis, with third-party contractors onboard and an intense working environment. OSV operators are also traditionally generous with crew welfare.”
Supported by a 1-meter antenna, Fleet Xpress for OSVs will offer connectivity rates of up to 3Mbps for uploads and 6Mbps for downloads with a standard antenna, climbing to 5Mbps and 10Mbps, respectively with an enhanced antenna. When off-hire, vessels can use a more economic connection sufficient for keeping just core operational data exchange ticking over.
“This elasticity means that OSV operators can utilize the full potential of Fleet Xpress for the duration of a project and then switch to a narrower ‘standby’ link between projects, also avoiding early termination costs,” Inmarsat explains.
In addition to offering free upgrades and downgrades in service levels during a 36-month contract period, the OSV plans also includes a provision for owners to suspend services for up to 180 days, subject to conditions.
“The global footprint of Fleet Xpress means OSVs can count on reliable connectivity wherever in the world they are deployed,” says Eric Griffin, VP Maritime, Offshore Energy and Fisheries, Inmarsat.
“Unlike conventional VSAT installations, Fleet Xpress is designed for seamless global mobility and automated satellite and beam switching, supported by the added resilience of unlimited FleetBroadband back-up. Inmarsat satellites are supported by redundant land-based infrastructure to ensure network availability, as defined in the service level agreements that form part of a subscription.”
In addition, the new set of OSV plans include a dual antenna solution to minimise outages caused by line of sight blockages, a common occurrence for OSV vessels due to their proximity to rigs and operating in high seas. This will be managed by a single antenna control unit that will handle the service and seamless switching between antennas.
“The connectivity requirements of offshore support vessels place unique demands on satellite operators. Successful and timely completion of a contract is increasingly dependent on a highly resilient, high-capacity data link.
“The technology behind Fleet Xpress has the capacity to meet these demands and our new plan sets a precedent in joining the dots between the technical requirements and commercial realities of OSV operation and highlights how Fleet Xpress can be used in the energy sector,” said Mr Griffin.