4G connectivity is available in pretty much every metropolitan area of the world, and oddly enough, in the middle of the North Sea as well.
Since 2013, offshore communications provider Tampnet been providing 4G wireless connectivity on the high seas via its network of base stations located on the myriad of fixed offshore platforms. Approximately 3,000 kilometers of fiber optic cable connect each base station together to form a network that stretches from the southern sector of the North Sea, to the Danish Sector and on up to the Norwegian Continental Shelf.
As one might assume, this network will not allow you to continuously Facetime with your friends while sailing through the North Sea, there are gaps in coverage due to the distances between base stations.
Satellite communcations provider Marlink has recently signed a partnership agreement where its established VSAT (Very Small Aperture Terminal) and MSS (Mobile Satellite Services) portfolio will be integrated into Tampnet’s low-latency 4G services to provide complete connectivity while in the North Sea.
Knut Natvig, Media Relations at Marlink says that Tampnet’s 4G services will be primary while the vessel is in the coverage area and vice versa when in areas of limited to no coverage. Natvig notes that one of the key aspects of Tampnet’s 4G infrastructure is its low latency, or the data response time between vessels and shore which Marlink says is expected to be no more than 25-35ms. Using this digital, high speed network will enable new applications where lower latency can improve performance, such as video calling or machine-to-machine communication on critical, specialist operations.
Tore Morten Olsen, Head of Maritime Satcoms in Airbus Defence and Space, said: “Our partnership with Tampnet will help us to meet a significant market requirement and is integral to the development of hybrid, low-latency connectivity solutions where VSAT, MSS, 4G and Wi-Fi combine to provide a seamless user-experience that offers excellent value due to automatic, least-cost routing. Furthermore, it is reassuring for us as a service provider that Tampnet’s LTE network is based on the largest fibre based offshore communication network in the world.”