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New initiative provides free wifi for seafarers calling at Sydney

An Australian-first initiative to provide a wifi signal and internet access for visiting seafarers on ships visiting Australian ports called Seafarer Connect has been launched in Sydney at a meeting of the International Transport Workers’ Federation.

An initiative of the not-for-profit Tas Bull Seafarers Foundation (TBSF), a trial of the programme at Port Botany for the past three months proved popular.

Seafarer Connect project manager Bernie Farrelly said: “The new system will deliver 100 GB of connectivity and seafarers will get the benefit of a 4G signal. This will be upgraded to 5G when providers upgrade existing systems. The system is simple to use, it involves new technology where a portable router is plugged into the ship’s power and a wifi signal is generated throughout the ship’s accommodation spaces. This means that seafarers can access the system through their personal laptops or phones”.

TBSF chair Robert Coombs said: “This is simply a modern-day requirement that most of us take for granted. It will mean that when a ship ties up and the router is installed, crew members will be able to connect with their families and loved ones free of cost and without the hassle of going ashore of finding a shore side facility”.

Coombs said all the major operators in Port Botany except one have supported the new programme, but he hoped that negotiations in the future might bring all operators on board.

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Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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