Our team of maritime connectivity experts have been closely tracking when cruise ships will be open for business. Of course, the industry was hard hit by COVID, however, this piece in The Economist is optimistic whilst “Only a few of the world’s 270 large cruise ships are at sea with paying passengers” operators have still been able to raise debt and equity, bookings for 2022 are at the higher end of historical demand and “Over 100 vessels are on order; none has been cancelled during the pandemic”.
Naturally passengers on cruise ships will expect the same levels of connectivity on-board that they experience onshore. Providing this is something that our team has been working on for quite some time with considerable success.
Using Private Networks to Provide Maritime Connectivity
At Telecom26 we’ve long been singing the praises of Mobile Private Networks at sea. Private networks are nothing new. They are essentially a closed network isolated from public view that is deployed in a specific location but still uses 2, 3, 4 or 5G networks.
We firmly believe that vessels of all shapes and sizes should have their own mobile private networks (MPN) on-board in the same way businesses on land have private terrestrial networks over fibre, wireless or satellite on their business premises.
We build private networks that cover the footprint of a ship or other kind of vessel and provide:
- the 4G (and future 5G) local radio coverage to ensure that connectivity is available
- the SIMs or eSIMs to enable devices to connect
- the ability to set-up Wi-Fi access, so you can create a local WAN.
Our SIMs or eSIMs enable devices to connect to the private network, but we also enable visiting (“roaming”) SIMs to connect, at the discretion of the private network operator, and through the control that we offer from our core. If you want to allow roaming, you can. If you don’t, it will be prohibited.
So, in our terms, the private network is self-contained, using dedicated radio access infrastructure, and powered by our mobile core, to which all permitted SIMs (and the devices that contain them) can connect. The interesting thing is that this can be literally anywhere – which brings us to….
Roaming Services for Passengers
For companies providing leisure or cruise services, private networks can be offered to passengers in two ways:
Firstly, passengers can be allowed to connect to the ship’s private network as they would roam on any other network. In this case, they will be responsible for their own bills and would pay the roaming fees direct to their operator.
Or, a ship can sell its own Telecom26 SIMs with pre-defined packages and bundles, so passengers can use the ship’s private network. This means that they will avoid the roaming charges of their home operators - and provides a new revenue stream for Cruise operators.
Find Out More
Telecom26 is a full-service operator, with coverage to connect in any maritime environment. As a full member operator of the GSMA, we provide cross-border and international water services for ships, crews, passengers and devices.
To speak with one of our maritime connectivity experts about how we can help improve your connectivity - using private networks amongst other things - whilst in-port, hugging the coast or carrying on cruising out at sea, please contact us here.