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KVH Industries: Ready for kick-off

Middletown: As the greatest sporting spectacle in the world this year nears its climax with a keenly anticipated football World Cup final between Germany and Argentina set to take place this Sunday, a number of seafarers will be able to view the game live, even when far out to sea.
Maritime comms specialists KVH Industries from the US have been beaming matches to ships around the world, the first time for many seafarers to be able to enjoy this kind of coverage while at sea.
“We’ve gotten feedback that the games have been a great way to bring crew members together, even when they’re rooting for different teams,” says Martin Kits van Heyningen, president and CEO of KVH.
KVH has been broadcasting highlights of every single match, but the challenge will come for the final, says van Heyningen where KVH plans to live broadcast the entire event to its customers. “This will be a really exciting challenge,” he says.
KVH’s mini-VSAT Broadband network is fully deployed now on a global basis, and the latest market study published by Euroconsult this past March estimates its share of the maritime VSAT market at more than 25%, which is double that of its nearest competitor.
“The idea of providing small, simple, affordable onboard systems that deliver fast, high quality, low cost connectivity has really been successful and continues to gain momentum,” says van Heyningen.
KVH’s maritime broadband sales continue to grow nicely, up 35% in 2013 over the previous year.  Last year it shipped more than 1,000 mini-VSAT broadband terminals, growing its total shipments to more than 4,000 systems.
The acquisition of Headland Media – now called the KVH Media Group – last year was part of a larger strategy to improve the quality and economics of maritime broadband services by developing smarter solutions to customers’ problems of moving content to their vessels. With its IP-MobileCast service, instead of trying to send a large file to each individual who might want to see it, KVH sends it once and stores it onboard every ship within the satellite footprint where that one file can be used by everybody onboard.
KVH has also been in the news for its purchase of training firm, Videotel. Van Heyningen says providing training content and interactive training program management has been high priority since the inception of KVH’s IP-MobileCast content delivery service.
“Videotel is the maritime industry’s leading supplier of high-quality training films and e-Learning services for seafarers. It seemed like a natural fit,” he maintains.
On what shipowners are asking for, van Heyningen has plenty to say. “New labour and training regulations, new electronic navigation technology, heightened security concerns, new pollution laws, and a new generation of seafarers with dramatically different expectations for essential onboard connectivity and entertainment options all create increased demands on ship operators,” he points out. Shipowners know new tools are available to help them solve many of these new problems, but, the KVH boss reckons they are confused about changing technology and they don’t have the staff to manage huge IT projects.
“We’re trying to make the decisions easier by offering well conceived, carefully managed services that address their specific problems rather than selling them the fantasy that enough unlimited, low cost bandwidth can be provided to solve every onboard data need.  The simple fact that has been proven on shore is that the faster data is supplied, the faster it will be consumed,” van Heyningen concludes.  [10/07/14]

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