Singapore: At a Maritime CEO lunch earlier this year with 12 shipowners in Hong Kong much discussion centered on the growing necessity to have proper broadband connectivity onboard all ships if shipping is to be able to entice a next generation of seafarers. Indeed, it was suggested that were MLC2006 to be passed today, mandatory internet access for all seafarers would be part of the crew welfare regulation.
The discussion at the lunch has been backed up by a survey earlier this year by Futurenautics Research where 60% of the seafarer respondents indicated that having broadband onboard ships will affect their decision to join a company.
Lim Kian Soon, who heads up the satellite business group at Singapore Telecommunications (SingTel) says that while there has been an increase in the access to crew communications onboard in recent years, some sectors, notably dry bulk and containers, are still lagging behind.
“Shipowners are now looking at ways to improve in the areas of operational efficiency, monitoring and controlling and crew welfare, so that they can stay afloat during these rough times for the maritime industry,” Lim says.
While prices for broadband onboard have gone down over the years they are still “strikingly high”, Lim says, compared with terrestrial broadband.
Prices of broadband should be going down further with the introduction of more high throughput satellites (HTS), Lim reckons, which will provide at least double the capacity within the same allocated spectrum.
“These new satellites are expected to facilitate higher adoption rates of broadband onboard ships to improve productivity as shipowners and managers can now deploy more maritime ICT solutions to enable better operational efficiencies on their vessels,” Lim concludes. [24/11/14]