Communication technology has been a key instrument in achieving business profitability over the last two decades, however for Inmarsat Maritime President Frank Coles,shipowners have proved reluctant investors.
As an all-digital company faced with trying to explain the merits of digital communication and technology to this same group of people, my partners and I at gCaptain can certainly relate.
In the notoriously fragmented and fast-moving communications market, coupled with a highly traditional industry, skepticism abounds amongst shipowners when asked to part with cash for connectivity. Compounding this decision is the fact that with connectivity comes other decisions such as equipment choice, associated software and air time.
Few of which are inherently easy to decide upon.
As a former deck officer with significant commercial shipping experience ashore including a Masters in Maritime Law, five years of legal practice and a General Manager role at Pacific Basins Bulker Shipping Agencies, Frank Coles is familiar with the mind-set of shipowners. His subsequent professional experiences in the field of maritime communications as the former CEO of Globe Wireless, and now president of Inmarsat Maritime convinces him that the 2015 launch of Global Xpress represents a crossroads for industry attitudes.
Global Xpress will be the world’s first worldwide Ka-band mobile satellite system, delivering consistent high-performance data download speeds of up to 50Mbps.
The new platform as a “game changer in ship-to-shore communications,” notes Coles. It will be able to offer service that is “ten times faster than FleetBroadband and able to handle ten times the amount of data exchange.”
“While the maritime sector has had its share of innovative products to improve efficiency, planning and maintenance, what has been missing has been the platform to support these innovations – the high speed, IP connectivity to work in the background. Global Xpress will deliver the enablement platform that we have been working on with CISCO. Its performance and flexibility will match what we get at home or in the office.
“To take advantage of the opportunities for integrated decision–making on vessel monitoring, operations and predictive maintenance will demand a change in mind-set for shipowners. They will need to stop fighting every communications penny and instead consider the real value available from exploiting robust, reliable, transparently billed communications technology.”
A study by ESRG (Engineering Software Reliability Group) has suggested that overall predictive maintenance could save $1 million per ship per year.
This new system may also open up new market sectors adds Coles. “Clearly, the cruise sector will have the opportunity to make a different set of choices,” he says. “Early adopters in the oil and gas sector can also take stock, based on new generation compact (65cm) antennae. Luxury yacht owners too will surely welcome faster comms speeds using less obtrusive installations on board.”