Cellular networks can reach up to 30km out to sea and will help the shipping industry’s move to smart containers
11 May 2022

Cellular networks can reach up to 30km out to sea and will help the shipping industry’s move to smart containers

11 May 2022

Our team of maritime connectivity experts is always tracking the commercial shipping industry and discussing how our global maritime connectivity service helps improve on-board and in-port connectivity.

Consequently, this recent piece Sensors that scavenge their power are all the rage. They can run on light, heat and even vibrations in The Economist caught our eye.

It discusses how a company called Net Feasa, is on a mission “to fit a sensor to each of the millions of shipping containers that are moving around the world”.

The interesting thing about the Net Feasa sensors - which are a few centimetres wide and designed to fit unobtrusively on a shipping container’s doors - is that they don’t use batteries.  Instead “they are powered by vibrations, heat and light”.

These sensors will “track the locations of, and conditions experienced by, those containers, and transmit that information back to the people who need to know via satellite when a container is at sea and via a mobile-phone network when it is in port or on land”.

The words Via Satellite grabbed our attention of course….

Nearshore Communications, Maritime Connectivity, Smart Containers, IoT and Telecom26

Satellite has traditionally been the connectivity tool of choice for the shipping industry. Expensive but always-on.

However, the fact is that most ships and vessels spend the majority (up to 60%) of their time in port or in coastal waters – within range of land-based cellular networks which can provide coverage to vessels as far out as 30km.

So, instead of relying on costly satellite for data or connectivity, vessels can use these networks.

Telecom26 is a global maritime connectivity mobile operator and providing always-available voice and data connectivity for vessels of all shapes and sizes is one of our  core services. 

We offer bespoke maritime connectivity and marine cellular communications solutions that integrate inbound and outbound roaming, with full support of data services.

Containers, sensors and maritime connectivity

Key to the success of Net Feasa’s shipping container sensors will be IoT which allows the information about the container and its contents gathered by the sensors to be transmitted to both the crew - and remotely to the shipping line and owners of the container’s contents.

And for IoT in shipping to be effective, fast and always-on maritime connectivity which enables information sharing in real-time is necessary.

However, the major problem with the cellular at sea approach is that multiple SIMs have been required to ensure coverage throughout the cruise. As the ship crosses borders, so the network operators will change.

With the specific goal of improving maritime connectivity, Telecom26 has a multi-pronged approach:

  1. Multi-IMSI global SIM cards which enable Global Roaming.

These enable one SIM to access multiple networks both in-country and across borders thus removing the need to worry about the coverage of a single MNO, or the existence of roaming alliances. Multiple-IMSI profiles are pre-loaded onto every SIM allowing for simple reconfiguration if the primary network has poor or no service.

Our Multi-IMSI Global SIMs automatically select the best IMSI profile for each country to provide the best price and coverage to fit our customers' needs.

When a vessel is travelling along the coast or anchored at port, the SIMs would use the most suitable cellular network and switch to satellite only when absolutely necessary.

  1. A multi-SIM router hosting SIMs with multi-IMSI feature, enables ship-wide Wi-Fi on which crew can use their personal and business devices. No more bill shock for any of them when they return home.

The Telecom26 offering can combine both a full mobile private network at sea as well as a nearshore offering in order to provide contiguous mobile coverage at the lowest cost available.

You can read more about our Cellular At Sea/Private Network At Sea service here. We can provide a complete, private full-service mobile network on-board for 4G, 3G  - and, soon 5G - connectivity.

Our Nearshore Connectivity Service is discussed here and more information about  our Maritime IoT service can be found here.

In earlier blogs we examined the trends in the container shipping industry - and how maritime connectivity essential for deployment of new technologies to improve port operations.

And we previously discussed the future role of Smart Containers in managing the entire shipment and delivery process of goods through connectivity, cloud computing traceability, monitoring, and smart sensors.

Catching-Up In-Person

Our team of maritime connectivity experts will be attending Posidonia, the international shipping exhibition in Greece from 6-10 June.  So, if you are going too, and would like to discuss how our maritime connectivity and maritime cellular communications services can improve communications at sea and in-port, please book a meeting.

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