Maritime CEO

Ocean Mobile: Championing VSATs


Edinburgh: Hard pressed shipowners, desperate for savings in every operating department, can expect their shipping communications bills to fall, says the boss of recently launched Ocean Mobile, a UK comms provider. 

Andrew Francis, ceo of the 2012-founded Edinburgh company, tells Maritime CEO: “Prices are not going to rise and realistically in the long run they will decrease. Prices will reduce without affecting performance as hardware improvements filter through.”

Covering the main shipping routes using only Intelsat beams, Ocean Mobile offers global service coverage at Ku Band with per megabyte data rates and what it maintains are competitive voice tariffs. 

What Francis’ team is trying to do is to show the market the potential of maritime very small aperture terminals (VSATs).

“Our medium term aim is to show resellers and shipmanagement companies that they can move to VSAT without encountering the issues that would previously have made them reluctant to make the switch,” Francis says, citing age old gripes such as poor coverage, the expensive dish required, the need to pay invoices even when not in use, and the lengthy contracts that used to deter many firms from the technology. 

Working in close partnership with Intelsat and KNS Francis says Ocean Mobile has overcome these barriers.

“Our target market,” Francis explains, “are ocean-going vessels who wish to have connectivity when necessary but are not keen on the contracts and higher average monthly costs associated with always on VSAT.”

Payment is by the megabyte and $0.00 invoices are possible. 

In the downturn, Francis says customers want value for money from their investments. “They want to feel appreciated,” he says, “and industry incumbents are there to be challenged as there are options everywhere.” New kid on the block Ocean Mobile is clearly positioning itself to take on bigger rivals.  “Established companies who raise their prices because they can are playing a dangerous game,” Francis warns. 

New products the company is keen to develop are media-related and improving vessel efficiency through navigational and weather update improvements.  [19/02/13]


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