On-board maritime connectivity essential for commercial seafarers
13 March 2023

On-board maritime connectivity essential for commercial seafarers

13 March 2023

The welfare of crews on-board commercial vessels is a subject that our maritime connectivity team has discussed before especially during COVID.  This recent piece in The Financial Times The plight of ship crews stranded at sea says that “When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, more than 300,000 commercial seafarers were left stranded on their ships well past the expiry of their contracts, because virus control measures and travel restrictions prevented crews from being rotated. Part of the problem then was the length of time it took many countries to classify them as “key workers” in spite of the fact that their work was, quite clearly, key”.

More recently some of the almost 2m commercial seafarers “have been caught up in the war in Ukraine too: according to the International Chamber of Shipping, 331 seafarers have been stuck on 62 ships trapped in Ukrainian ports since the war began a year ago”. 

The article contines“sometimes ship owners just abandon them, maybe after they have underestimated the cost of running a voyage, or when they realise a ship needs investment and it would be less costly just to walk away” and that “it’s not always possible for seafarers to leave an abandoned ship. They might not have a visa to enter a country, or the local authorities might say they have to stay on board to keep the ship safe. Even if they can leave, many don’t want to walk away empty-handed because they are owed money their families have been counting on”.

A terrible situation for people to find themselves in and the entire maritime connectivity team at Telecom26 sends them our best wishes.

However, there is more optimistic news from The Seafarers Happiness Index (SHI), the shipping industry’s ongoing barometer of the key issues facing those at sea today.

Seafarers are asked to share their views about specific issues affecting their life and work. This latest report highlights the findings of the Quarter 3 2022 data, showing increased happiness levels from the previous report. It also features a wider review of the various initiatives, changes and developments that are having a continued positive impact at sea.

According to the Index, “time and time again respondents stress the pivotal role that having good, cost- effective Wi-Fi access plays in mental health. Those that have the access they crave and who are able to use it as they desire are so much happier than those that don’t. It is the same message that we hear from every Seafarers Happiness Index reporting period, connectivity matters and is absolutely vital to seafarers”.

Maritime connectivity - and Telecom26

As a global operator, Telecom26 has a wide range of global connectivity solutions for vehicles and vessels of all shapes and sizes, commercial and leisure - and the people and containers that they are transporting.

Our maritime connectivity services include:

  • A full Cellular At Sea service for vessels of all sizes
  • A Nearshore Connectivity Service - This blog “Nearshore Connectivity - perfect for vessels up to 30km off the coast” discusses how most ships and vessels spend the majority (up to 60%) of their time in port or in coastal waters. They are therefore 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 – and the people on-board - can use these cellular networks.
  • Networks for personal communications, onboard. You can read more about this here: Mobile Private Networks for Cruise Ships and the Merchant Navy
  • A Maritime IoT Service including private networks on-board vessels, oil rigs and platforms – and supply chain tracking

Our global and maritime connectivity services offer:

  • Our own network core and operational assets leveraging relationships with more than 1100 network connections and 650 mobile operators across over 200 countries to secure unrivalled global coverage.
  • A full range of telecom services and connectivity options including 5G (where available), LTE-M, WiFi, private networks, 2G, 3G and 4G, as well as satellite and offshore connectivity capabilities.

At the heart of our maritime connectivity and global connectivity services are our Global eSIM and physical SIM cards.  These provide data to all onboard devices via cellular data links.  By onboard devices we mean Wi-Fi routers, container sensors, IoT networks, any system process that needs to connect to the internet, to a remote server or monitor – as well as the phones and devices of the crew and people on-board.

Our Global eSIM and physical SIMs can access most terrestrial and maritime networks. Not all networks are equally available – some offer better coverage in some locations than others. And, every country has its own range of terrestrial network operators. This means that, as a vessel is on its journey, different networks may be available.

Our global connectivity and maritime connectivity experts have also written a number of interesting blogs over the past few months including:

Catching up with our global connectivity and maritime connectivity teams

We will be announcing along the year new partnerships.
We are in discussions with providers of GSM connectivity over Low Earth Orbit to fill in coverage gaps both on land and at sea offering an alternative to very expensive networks.

In addition, the expansion of Telecom26’s 5G capabilities will help improve the connectivity of the people and devices on-board vehicles of all sizes.

If you’d like to arrange to a call to discuss how our maritime connectivity and global connectivity services can connect the people and devices on-board your vessels as they travel around the world then please get in touch.
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