Connectivity at sea: an end to end matter
The satellite telecommunications industry has undergone major changes in recent years, with a significant increase in bandwidth and a wider range of available services. Meanwhile, connectivity needs in the maritime world are evolving:
- Trade needs, with new shore-connected professional tools and a new range of data-consuming applications.
- Private needs, with crew wishing to remain connected with families and wanting more entertainment onboard. An expectation that has become a key challenge for seafarers.
- Regulatory needs, with on-board remote supervision required to ensure that the vessels are compliant.
The digital environment of vessels involves various stakeholders such as captain and officers, crew, ship-owners, customers, suppliers or administration, each with specific connectivity requirements that must be addressed.
Contextual events can also strongly impact connectivity needs. For instance, in-and-out data traffic per ship almost tripled during the Covid-19 pandemic.
These new needs and usages require expertise throughout the whole chain of products and services to ensure reliable and efficient onboard connectivity.
It starts with choosing an adequate satellite communication service that implies the consideration of several criteria: best fitting coverage with respect to the ships’ navigation routes and operations, antenna suitable to vessel capacities (size and type), communication bundles and data speed tailored to meet users’ profiles and expectations.
Then comes the onboard networks configuration. Embedded communication systems (both satellite and terrestrial) should be integrated in an infrastructure that includes networks, sub-networks (LAN, WAN…) defined by stakeholder’s requirements and operational use.
Still, using the most relevant satellite communication solution without any connectivity management gateway would lead to foreseeable risks: mostly unexpected data flows (large email attachments, Windows/anti-virus updates, background tasks, streaming…) and cyber threats.
To mitigate those risks, it is necessary to have a fully managed gateway that centralizes embedded networks and satellite links. A comprehensive connectivity tool that also provides all necessary features to efficiently manage in/out data flows:
- Bandwidth optimization and prioritization per network/usage.
- Firewalling between shore-and-ship and sub-networks.
- Professional usages’ safety.
- Crew connectivity management through a dedicated application.
- Cost effectiveness (email compression, attached files resizing…).
- Real-time monitoring of both delivered bandwidth and data flows, on a dedicated web portal (per communication gateway / network / application / user).
- Enhanced Cyber security, especially when processing sensitive data.
With this kind of technology solution, vessels connectivity is optimized, and satellite communication is more safe, reliable and cost-effective, to help seafarers and ship-owners focus on what really matters.
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