Page 1

For buyers and suppliers of telecommunications destined for remote & harsh environments

Where Telecoms & Energy Connect The Managing Data Consumption Issue Data is headed your way, what’s your strategy?

Ring Ring Kerrrching! Remote Insight Report

Crew Calling Cards, Market Value, Comms Options, Payment Possibilities

Crew Connectivity Census

The current state of crew connectivity and what they are willing to pay to stay in touch

From 900Mb to 11.7Mb Reducing VoIP & video call data consumption

Developing Crew Internet Access Implementing internet cafés Get the Lowdown » Who got BUSTED for stealing? » Revealed: The biggest data eater » Global ambition concerns » Easy live video chat onboard » New jackups on order » The state of the HTS subscriber market » PLUS The ©OffComm News, News ~ Summer 2013 & much more Quarterly, Features inside!

Summer 2013

We asked... Is connectivity becoming a human right, need or expectation? Find out what surprised us about the responses in this issue’s Special Insight Report!

©OffComm News ~ Summer 2013


Summer 2013

Your resource for telecoms destined for remote and harsh environments

In Print. Online. Offshore.


Inside this Issue The Quarterly on pages 4 & 5

I’ve found myself delving into several archives lately. For a birthday gift, someone had tracked down a 1974 issue of an admired comic character which really brightened up my day. Around the same time, my father produced an August 1957 copy of Concrete magazine during a parental visit. I was proud to see an invention by his great self on the front cover. Inside we discovered a news item which, coincidentally, is about an oil rig platform where relatives are currently working and also recently featured in OCN. It’s wonderful to see value being revitalised many years after the o r i g i n a l pu b l i c a t i o n ’ s de b u t , especially as the digital age has shortened most of our attention spans (mine included).

Helping owners manage crew internet access is a key aspect of consumption control. Page 6

The State of the HTS Subscriber Market Despite some excessive industry expectations at times, the satellite broadband access market is beginning to see the payoff of moving to the next generation of very high capacity High Throughput Satellites. Page 7

Is Global Wholesale Ambition Over the Top? Front cover reproduced here with the kind permission of James Luckley, editor at Concrete magazine.

So, if you haven’t already arranged a free or paid subscription of OffComm News then make this the day to do it. Should you prefer getting your industry fix on the move, you can now get this magazine on your iDevice from our friends over at PressDisplay ~ or browse our archives online. Who knows what you might find... Have a great summer! Georgina Elrington

Next edition Autumn 2013 Out in July

Managing Crew Data Consumption with Unrestricted Plans

The opportunities and challenges facing content providers, telcos and internet network operators as they seek to manage the future of online content delivery. Page 9

Crew Connectivity Census Explore current crew communication requirements, access levels and how much they’re willing to pay for connectivity. Page 10

Special Insight Report Prepaid crew calling is a multi million dollar market. But what are the options and how can you control data consumption? Find out what’s out there to enable crews with comms, protect your network and fund connectivity in this special feature. Page 17

Developing Crew Internet Access Onboard @OffCommNews

Special Offer for New Subscribers Get the entire back collection of our Special Insight features for FREE* when you subscribe to the print version of OffComm News. *Report Value: £295. See page 16 for details.

The new generation of seafarers is born with a mobile in hand, says Adonis Violaris, managing director Telaccount Overseas Ltd. Page 24

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The Quarterly OffComm News Round Up Internet ~ Café Style In the spring of 2013 Bernhard Schulte Ship Management (BSM) will finish rolling out onboard crew internet cafes across its fleet of vessels. This will provide all onboard personnel with the same standard, quality and speed of voice and data connectivity that they would expect ashore. BSM has agreed a 6Gb shared corporate allowance package with Inmarsat to provide the bandwidth to run the internet service. This is another indication of the progression of the maritime satellite communications market, with faster bandwidth and cheaper data gradually beginning to bring IT at sea in line with seafarer’s expectations. See page 23 for more on this story.

SkyEdge II-c Platform for Ka & Ku Band Internet SkyEdge II-c for both consumer and enterprise applications includes fast web browsing, video streaming, IPTV, VoIP and other bandwidth-intensive services. With Do It Yourself VSAT installation, the platform features customisation, free time zones (allowing plan hour exclusion), topup options with automatic redirection to walled gardens, machine to machine and secure GUI interface to define SLAs (MIR/CIR), monitor VSAT status and a customisable use based billing system.

News in brief Is connectivity becoming a human right, need or expectation?

YES 85% No 15% Guideline poll results from industry insiders. See Special Insight Report for more details on page 17

Beyond Cellular Coverage with iPhone Satellite Adaptor Thuraya Telecommunications Company has unveiled the Thuraya SatSleeve to bring satellite connectivity to the Apple® iPhone®. SatSleeve provides users with a versatile and affordable means of conducting phone calls and sending SMS via satellite from the world’s most remote locations. Only slightly larger than the iPhone itself, the compact adaptor turns user devices into a satellite phone, enabling them with connectivity beyond the coverage of traditional terrestrial networks.

Entice New Staff & Retain Existing Personnel Salary sacrifice scheme provider, Techbenefits, makes it easy for employees to get the latest computer equipment. Delivered and managed online, the scheme represents the cutting edge of employee benefits, enabling business to attract and retain staff through relevant and upto-the-minute incentives. Employees, meanwhile, have the opportunity to get state-of-the -art computer equipment on terms unavailable through any other channel. For participating employers, Techbenefits creates a branded online store offering a wide and constantly updated range of computer equipment. Available brands include: Apple, Toshiba, HP, Microsoft, BOSE and Samsung. Employees in the scheme can choose items from the store and spread the cost over a two or three year period through monthly deductions from their salary.

©OffComm News ~ Summer 2013

RigNet Inc. a provider of managed remote communications solutions to the oil and gas industry, has appointed Morten Hagland Hansen to Vice President, Business Services; Boyd Skelton to Director of Products & Solutions; and James R. "Jim" Crenshaw to the position of vice president and general manager for the Western Hemisphere. MTN Satellite Communications announced that the World Teleport Association has appointed Richard Hadsall to its board. Hadsall founded MTN more than 30 years ago and today serves as the chief technology officer for MTN Government Services. Marathon Oil Corporation’s current manager of midcontinent production and operations, Michael J. Stover, has been appointed to the newly established position of vice president, Operations Services. Norstra Energy Inc. has appointed Mr. Glen Landry as CEO and President of the company. Redline Communications Group Inc. has made several changes in its personnel and expands operations in the Middle East. Rob Williams has been promoted to president of MEA. He will continue to serve as Redline’s Chief Operating Officer based in Oman. Carl McKinnon joins Redline as vice president of worldwide sales. MacKinnon was previously global sales director for communications at GE Digital Energy. Bojan Subasic has been promoted to vice president of development and production; and Rick Cuthill has taken on the role of general manager of Redline’s new business unit, Redline Military Technologies.


The Quarterly OffComm News Round Up News in brief

Controlling Costs for Live Video Chat Onboard

Seadrill Orders Two Jackups

Globecomm Maritime has rolled out chat and video conferencing systems designed for maritime satellite communications. Access Chat provides instant messaging and voice calling while Access Chat Plus has the addition of video conferencing. For both corporate and crew, users of the technology will be able to make video calls and chat live over satellite using a fraction of the data and at a fraction of the cost of shore side applications. Trevor Whitworth, senior vice president sales & marketing at Globecomm Maritime said: “Voice and video conferencing applications use a great deal of bandwidth and that makes it very expensive for seafarers. We identified the need for a tool that gives ships the same functionality but keeps cost under control.”

Seadrill has exercised fixed pr ice o pt io ns f or th e construction of two high specification jackup drilling rigs at Dalian Shipbuilding Industry Offshore Co., Ltd. in China. The rigs are scheduled for delivery during the third and fourth quarter of 2015. The company now has six jackups under construction at DSIC Offshore of which two are scheduled for delivery in 2013 and four in 2015.

See page 25 for more on this story.

ITC Global to Acquire NewSat

150 People Headed to New Jackups Commissioned by Mexico’s Integradora de Servicios Petroleros Oro Negro, S.A.P.I. de C.V, two new rigs will be equipped with accommodation for 150 people in one and two man cabins. Delivery is expected for Q4 2014 and Q1 2015, according to a statement from Sembcorp Marine.

Wider Reach for M2M Globalstar Inc., a provider of mobile satellite voice and data services has signed a three year manufacturing, airtime and distribution agreement with Nupoint Systems to expand the M2M (machine to machine) data service offerings beyond the reach of terrestrial, cellular communication. Companies that utilise remote locations, such as: oil and gas wells, mining sites and remote security are set to benefit, according to a press release from the company. Wayne Carlson, President and chief executive officer of Nupoint Systems said: "Companies can't always choose the location of their assets, but they can choose a reliable and cost effective satellite communications solution to connect to those assets. With Globalstar's recently launched satellites having a design life of 15 years, Nupoint is able to provide reliable two-way connectivity with our customer's data equipment, even in the most remote locations for years to come."

ITC Global, Inc., a provider of satellite communication services to the mining, energy and maritime sectors, has entered into an agreement to acquire NewSat Communications SA, a privately held Swiss based provider of satellite communications to the EMEA energy markets. Both companies provide satellite communications to blue chip global customers. The agreement follows ITC Global’s recent completion of its acqu is it ion of Spider sat Communications Limited.

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According to NSR’s “Energy Markets via Satellite, 3rd Edition report,” energy markets are in the midst of a bandwidth revolution that will positively affect satellite companies over the next decade. More applications at more remote locations continue to drive demand for satellite services; and oil & gas, and utility end users will demand over 25 Gbps of satellite capacity by 2022. Prosafe has been awarded a contract from Talisman Sinopec Energy UK Limited for the provision of the Regalia accommodation vessel at the Montrose Platform in the UK Continental Shelf in the North Sea. Bryant Mook has been appointed president and chief operating officer of Brenham Oil & Gas Corp., a subsidiary of American International Industries, Inc. Keppel FELS will build four jackup rigs worth US$820 million for Mexican drilling company, Grupo R. The rigs are scheduled for delivery progressively from 2Q 2015 to 4Q 2015. PEMEX*, the Mexican national oil company has also announced investment plans of US$25.3 billion for 2013, of which US$20 billion will be targeted at upstream activities. On a visit to Keppel FELS on 30 January 2013, Mr Emilio Lozoya Austin, CEO of PEMEX, said that the company is embarking on its most ambitious drilling program in decades and plans to add between eight and 12 offshore platforms to its fleet. *GRUPO R is a conglomerate of companies servicing the energy and industrial sectors in Mexico, working for Petróleos Mexicanos (PEMEX) as well as for different private companies.

©OffComm News ~ Summer 2013


Managing Crew Data Consumption with Unrestricted Plans Over the last five years mobile data use has increased 18-fold. And, according to Brent Bruun, executive vice president of KVH’s Mobile Broadband Group, more than half of all internet traffic is now video. In the midst of what seems to be booming demand for maritime connectivity, KVH has introduced a service to provide unrestricted, prioritised, multimegabit service with unrestricted access to all internet applications and protocols, including streaming media formats, popular Voice over

©OffComm News ~ Summer 2013 Image credit: ©Alphaspirit |

IP services like Skype, as well as media rich websites. Previously such data was only available with very expensive dedicated satellite capacity. On many vessels equipped with a maritime VSAT service, crew use accounts for 85-90 percent of the total bandwidth consumed. Helping vessel owners to manage crew internet access is a key aspect of maintaining the onboard network. Internet café and VoIP calling card services help

the crew self manage their data. Usage is monitored and further capacity can be added as required. Rather than block popular high bandwidth services, or limit access through deliberately reduced speeds, usage based rate plans provide a defined amount of data in a monthly package. Should the package threshold be exceeded the customer has the opportunity to buy more. Bundles from 5Gb to 40Gb are available from $200 ($0.20 per Mb) with speeds of up to 4Mbps.

Crew use accounts for 85 to 90 percent of total bandwidth consumption A new generation of high throughput satellites is presenting more opportunities to maritime, energy and offshore users. Could such satellites finally usher in the era of the always on, connected ship? See page 22



High Throughput Satellite Subscriber Market Update Despite some excessive industry expectations at times, the satellite broadband access market is beginning to see the payoff of moving to the next generation of very high capacity HTS.

NSR* expects that 2013 will be a productive year as the main players turn their focus from planning for the future to the real task of grinding out new subscribers and operating in the highly competitive broadband market. At the end of 2012, all three of the best known HTSpowered broadband access services, Tooway, Exede and HughesNet, saw sustained subscriber growth. EchoStar Corporation reported that the subscriber base for its Hughes Communications subsidiary reached 659,000 as of 31 December 2012, which is up from 626,000 from a year earlier. More importantly, the HughesNet subscriber base had shrunk down to 616,000 through to 30 September 2012 as Hughes was waiting for the launch of its HughesNet Gen4 service based on the new EchoStar-XVII (Jupiter) satellite. This implies a real net subscriber gain of about 43,000 in the last quarter of 2012 and likely a gross subscriber growth rate of several times this number. Turning to ViaSat, the company announced some 77,500 installations accounting for 62,000 gross subscriber additions in its fiscal year 2013 third quarter (30 December 2012) reporting period. Total Exede subscribers, including heritage subscribers to the former WildBlue service, reached 467,000 with just under half of these carried on the ViaSat-1 satellite. By NSR’s estimate, this represents a net gain of over 80,000 subscribers since ViaSat-1 went operational in January 2012. ViaSat also got a dose of welcome news in February 2013 when the FCC announced that the Exede product was the first satellite broadband access service to be included in its annual benchmarking study of broadband speeds. Even better, Exede claimed the top spot of all broadband services assessed (including terrestrial services) for exceeding advertised speeds. Finally, Eutelsat’s first half 2012-2013 report stated that its Tooway consumer broadband services on Ka-sat

reached 72,000 active subscribers as of 31 December 2012, up from 52,450 on 30 June 2012. After a slow start following the formal launch of Tooway services on Ka-SAT in May 2011, Eutelsat’s efforts to rework the management team behind the Tooway product appears to have begun to pay off. This was illustrated by the new service plans announced in January 2013 reaching download speeds of 20 Mbps and 6 Mbps for upload. Only a few years ago, many satellite broadband services were still being measured in Kbps of speed, and this represents a remarkable increase in performance. Eutelsat is also signing significant deals with some of its strongest distributors, such as the February 2013 partnership with skyDSL Global GmbH who agreed to a five-year multiple spotbeam capacity contract on Ka-SAT.

Bottom Line In the lead up to the launch of satellites like ViaSat-1, EchoStar-XVII and even Ka-SAT, there is no mistaking the fact that the industry set very high expectations about the importance that this new class would mean for the future of satellite broadband access services. The clear understanding was that without these satellites, there would be no future for satellite broadband access market of any significant size. While not yet out of the woods ~ and there are still real challenges to be faced from the dominant terrestrial services in the global broadband market ~ the first signs are beginning to show that this new class of satellite broadband services is making its mark. Providers like Hughes, ViaSat, Eutelsat and others still have a lot of work to do to chip away at the old impressions of poor satellite broadband service quality and replace them with the new. This will take some time and effort, but the latest subscriber growth numbers as well as independent assessment, like that from the FCC, are highly encouraging for the industry. *Northern Sky Research

©OffComm News ~ Summer 2013


©OffComm News ~ Summer 2013


Is Global Wholesale Ambition Over the Top? The next decade is set to bring multiple arrangements for managing relations between telcos and content providers, including bandwidth management strategies, content caching and delivery technologies. The internet content delivery market will undergo huge changes over the next decade as major telcos and internet giants, including Google, Amazon, Netflix and Microsoft, wrangle over the continuing over-thetop (OTT) Internet traffic content boom, according to a new Informa Telecoms & Media report, “Internet Innovation”. It details how the internet giants are trying to fulfil their ambitions of becoming globally dominant digital content providers by building their own internet infrastructure that will provide them with low cost, high quality, digital content distribution. Apparently, the big four are working towards delivering digital content in premium condition to customers using techniques such as edge caching on operator networks and using Internet Exchange Points. By building out their

©OffComm News ~ Summer 2013 Image credit: ©Kirsty Pargeter |

own extensive internet distribution networks, they hope to alleviate telco pains over traffic volumes ~ and push aside the growing calls from some operators for OTT players to pay volume-based wholesale charges for the traffic they send to local-access networks. Major European operators, including Orange, Vodafone and Telefonica, have been particularly vocal in calling for the introduction of wholesale charges based on the volume of data traffic passing through their networks. However, the report concludes that there are several reasons why calls for a more formal model for charging large content providers will be unsuccessful, including a lack of universal support and the growing deployment of new technologies for OTT-traffic management.

Opportunities and challenges face content providers, telcos & internet network operators as they seek to manage the future of online content delivery. “Despite the occasional headline grabbing calls for an ‘internet tax’ to govern relations between ISPs and content providers, such initiatives are unlikely to be successful. Instead, the future of the internet will be characterised by a multiplicity of commercial and technological arrangements for managing the crucial content delivery chain,” said Chris Drake, Senior Analyst, Informa. internetinnovation


$33,300,000 2% or 18,500 seafarers are currently without access to any form of crew communications If each unconnected person paid $150 per month for a data quota ~ a notion that seems acceptable for most ~ there’s an opportunistic market value of $33.3m


©OffComm News ~ Summer 2013


Crew Connectivity Census

In the second quarter of 2012 Astrium Services, in association with Stark Moore Macmillan, set out to undertake a comprehensive survey of officer and ratings* usage and requirements for crew communications in the commercial shipping sector. Generously shared with the industry, the ensuing report provides a clear picture of current crew communications requirements, the level of access to communications, what crew paid for these services and how they paid for them.

Top Line Findings  Many seafarers are prepared to pay for connectivity.

 The emergence of onboard

hybrid networks with VSAT and MSS empowers owners to provide the levels of reliable and cost effective connectivity to support changing communication usage patterns.

 BYOD and social media are driving connectivity requirements.

 Facebook highlighted as one of the most popular web destinations for crews.

Shipping companies able to offer strong crew welfare packages are better positioned to recruit from the limited pool of talent and increase staff loyalty. The popularity of using one's own device shows that owners investing in vessel-wide broadband connectivity and corresponding WiFi connections ~ to provide either free or low cost internet access ~ will experience return in terms of crew recruitment and retention. This is especially important considering that the lack of qualified officers continues to grow, from a deficit of 10,000 to

*Ratings: Offshore crew users ©OffComm News ~ Summer 2013

13,000 between 2005–2010. Web compression and filtering help to control communication cost and make crew c o m m u n i c a t i o n s a f f o r d a bl e . Moreover, the Crew PC, configured for safe, efficient and unsupervised private usage can serve as a personal communications centre. Another way of organising crew voice and data usage is offered by XChan ge, A st r ium Ser v ice s' integrated solutions platform. Over XChange crew can use their personal laptop or tablet in the privacy of their living quarters and can make voice calls via their own smartphones.



Free Communications Access Increased levels of access to c om mun ica t ion s in fra s truct ur e onboard are clearly demonstrated by this survey, 68 percent of seafarers can now use some form of crew communication most or all of the time when at sea. Given this reported level of access we can therefore extrapolate that 629,000 seafarers onboard 30,600 vessels are now able to access crew communications on a regular basis. Levels of internet provision were very high in the offshore and cruise ~ yet low in the bulk, general cargo and container sectors. The car carrier sector provided comparatively high levels of internet access at over 60 percent which indicates higher levels of VSAT penetration within this small group. Despite having access whilst at sea 46 percent of respondents were not provided with any form of free communications services by ship

operators. Interestingly, officers were provided more free communications than ratings. The service most often provided free of charge to seafarers was text only emails with no attachments but this was only available to 20 percent of respondents. Other services were typically available free to less than 15 percent. The lack of free communications at sea is further reinforced when examining responses by sector: 66 percent of respondents from the passenger sector were not provided any free communications services, despite having the highest levels of comms equipment onboard. Crew in many major commercial sectors also fared badly. Only the offshore sector, where qualified crew are in short supply and charterer requirements dictate high bandwidth satellite solutions, are crew communications widely available free of charge.

Most noticeably it is the sector with the greatest range of service provision that provides the least free of charge access to crew.

925,000 seafarers on 45,000 vessels The estimated total market size for satellite based crew comms


ŠOffComm News ~ Summer 2013


Many shipping companies face staff retention issues and communication services can represent an attractive incentive to crew members," says Tilmann Michalke, senior product manager for crew communications with Astrium Services. What Counts? When it came to accessing crew communications onboard, crew rated issues of cost, quality, privacy and security as highly important. Call quality was rated the most important element in service delivery. This was followed by price, security and finally privacy. Officers rated all service delivery elements higher than ratings, especially when it came to security. When asked their preferred method of access to non-voice crew communications the clear answer was by use of a laptop with a WiFi connection. This scored highest across all vessel types, age ranges and seafarer ranks.

Nearly 70% said they were prepared to pay to access online content

Current Spend on Communications Average spend on communications both at sea and in port/coastal waters was $150/month. The figures varied significantly between officers and ratings with officers spending more than twice that of ratings. Highest levels of expenditure on crew communications were made in the passenger, tanker and car carrier sectors. Regarding payment methods, credit cards are still not carried by the majority of seafarers. Expenditure whilst onboard the vessel is collected through wage deductions, cash and crew payment cards. Crew payment cards are predominantly used in the passenger sector. 68 percent said that they would be prepared to pay to access internet content, increasing to 80 percent from the officers. Cont.../

ŠOffComm News ~ Summer 2013


Breakdown Access to communications equipment onboard shows an improving picture with 68 percent of all respondents stating that they had access most or all of the time they were at sea.

The average figures for total monthly spend on communications, both at sea and ashore, given by respondents was $114.62. The figure varied depending on vessel type sailed on, age and rank of the respondent.

30 percent said that they had access only sometimes and just two percent indicated that they were never provided access.

When asked to identify how much they spent on communications by service, respondents’ actual spend on communications at sea and in port/coastal waters was $150/month, higher than the figure that they had estimated previously.

Higher levels of access are provided by sectors with higher operational data requirements (offshore & passenger) and where broadband satellite communications, such as VSAT, are more prevalent. The highest levels of access were provided to those employed on car carriers but even here only eight percent of respondents indicated they always had access to communications. In those sectors where data requirements are generally lower (bulk, general cargo & container) and broadband satellite communications less common, access for the crew was correspondingly less.

ŠOffComm News ~ Summer 2013

Officers spent, on average, twice that spent by ratings. The youngest crew members spent the least whilst those aged 35-44 spent the most. The majority of crew expenditure is on voice communication both at sea and within port/coastal waters. This seems to be higher within the older age ranges indicating that the younger age ranges are using other communications methods such as VoIP and social media in place of traditional voice. After voice calling, crew spent most on SMS and then email whilst at sea.


Where Technology

Diary Dates & Energy Connect 27 - 30 May 2013 SatCom Africa Contact:

SatCom Africa provides a platform where new revenue streams can be explored, key technologies can be evaluated, and operators & developers can gain valuable insight into implementing successful business models. A two day agenda will provide an unrivalled learning experience, with case studies and keynote addresses from leading operators in Africa. Content will enable decision makers to evaluate key strategies, technologies and the costs involved. Speakers are your clients and potential clients discussing how they plan to integrate satellite into the network.

4 June 2013

2 - 3 July 2013

EIC Connect Oil, Gas & Power St Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, Abu Dhabi Contact: Charmaine Atkinson

Sao Paulo, Brazil

EIC Connect Oil, Gas & Power will bring together the world’s leading operators and MEDIA EPC contractors who will be outlining their PARTNER business opportunities on Middle East energy projects from a series of theatres in the main exhibition hall. Their sessions will be supplemented by one-2-one meetings where delegates will have the opportunity to put their products and services forward to the decision makers.

1 - 3 July 2013

This year, for the first time, VSAT comes to Latin America! VSAT Latin America MEDIA PARTNER 2013 provides a targeted opportunity for satellite manufacturers, launchers, operators, hardware vendors, telecoms operators, hub operators, resellers and end users to come together to discuss all the important issues surrounding VSAT in the Latin America region. Colocated with Broadband Latin America, TV Connect Latin America and Critical Communications Latin America, no other event provides for the entire ecosystem under one roof. End users can attend for FREE!

12 - 13 November 2013

Critical Communications Latin America 2013 Grand Hyatt Sao Paulo, Brazil Building on the success of the IIR Telecoms MEDIA series of Critical Communications events PARTNER and to answer demand from the User community, IIR Telecoms will launch a new event for Latin America in July 2013. The event will evaluate all the technology options available for mission and business critical users including: LTE, TETRA, TETRAPOL, WIMAX and P25. The event will offer vital learning & networking opportunities for communications professionals from: public safety users: ambulance, fire & rescue, police, armed forces & local authorities, event organisers, logistics & security users, network operators, industry users: oil & gas, mining & construction, transport users: rail, metro, airports & ports/utilities, energy distribution & generation, small enterprise users.

EIC Connect Energy Manchester Central, UK Contact: Charmaine Atkinson Whilst 21 of the world’s leading power companies and contractors from 11 MEDIA countries opened up their procurement PARTNER practices and key projects to the UK supply chain at EIC Connect Power, at London Olympia in November 2011, the EIC will look to maximise the interests of UK companies further across the energy sector by including the emerging renewables market, transmission & distribution and decommissioning at the 2013 event, hence the name change to EIC Connect ‘Energy’ to encompass all aspects of the ever changing energy mix.

Events for quality global networking & real live innovation ©OffComm News ~ Summer 2013


FR EE D SU IGIT W B AL Us ant http SC RIP ED e t Of :// IT his fCo go T m ION ION f /k to orm m

In Print. Online. Offshore.

r3 N us o e a r vi ews bz s cre it t in p dit he ri ca web nt? rd sit e

Connectivity has a direct impact on just about every corporate bottom line. Some business operations are conducted in highly challenging locations where a whole new spectrum of issues ~ and innovations ~ arise. OffComm News is the global magazine dedicated to exploring developments in communications destined for some of the remotest places on earth.

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Remote Insight

Prepaid Crew Calling ~ A $Multimillion Market ©OffComm ©OffComm News News ~ ~ Summer Summer 2013 2013

17 17

Insight Feature

Crew Comms & Data Allocation Recent market indications reveal that there’s money to be made, crews willing to part with cash for connectivity onboard and, as of yet, some untapped resources. But how to claim a piece of the pie? In this Special Insight Report we take a look at some of the options for enabling ~ and controlling ~ crew connectivity. Helping a remote workforce stay in touch with friends and family is a crucial part of a ship operator’s operational structure. It is also becoming a general expectation of the seafarers. An industry poll revealed that, just five years ago, people didn’t see the internet as a basic requirement or even an expectation. However, the explosion of pocket devices with the ability to get online anywhere anytime (access depending) has changed all this dramatically. Today, 85 percent said yes it was becoming an expectation. While it’s true that we as a species wont die without it, many feel that connectivity is becoming their ‘right’. And if current figures indicate the progressive nature of that expectation, then the weight in the yes bank can only increase. So it’s good to see remote operators are talking about new ways to improve crew communication onboard. However, with increased access comes the need for increased control over data quotas for individual users.

Many in the industry believe that 2013 will see a steep rise in usage quotas in a bid to help retain crew morale. The International Labour Organization Maritime Labour Convention 2006 regulations will come into force in September 2013, making wholesale changes to onboard crew welfare. It i n c lu de s r e c o m m e n d a t io n s f o r reasonable access to, ship-to-shore telephone communications, email and internet facilities, where available with any charges for the use of these services being reasonable in amount. See page 10 to see what crews are willing to spend on connectivity. Traditionally crew communication used to be only basic voice but now with smart phones and tablets data is as important as voice to keep the crew happy and in touch with the rest of the world. Increasingly companies now include ‘internet onboard’ in their recruitment advertising to attract the best talent.

Retaining the loyalty and improving the morale of skilled employees is now a high priority for many of the world’s shipping operators. One out of three college students and young professionals see online connectivity as a fundamental need, according to a recent survey by Cisco. Over half of the participants quoted the internet as an “integral part of their lives”. 64 percent of respondents would choose connectivity over owning a car. 40 percent think having web connectivity is more important than dating, music or going out with friends. 50 percent would rather lose their wallet or purse than their web ready smartphone.



Crew Comms Options

»»» ©OffComm News ~ Summer 2013

Image credits: previous page ©Hypermania37 this page ©Stephen Vanhorn


Insight Feature


The current crew calling options allow ship owners to segregate the business operational voice calls from those of a personal nature. This reduces the time spent accounting and calculating the costs of crew voice usage.

voice access. If a company is looking at a long term crew communication option for voice and data access or, is looking to consolidate its business and crew prepaid calling usage, an option with a smart onboard box could provide the best way forward.

However, a barrier to ship owners providing crew calling onboard is that some operations can’t afford it, unless they have options like chat cards where they can charge back to the crew. Prepaid calling cards may be the best choice if a company wants its crew service to be isolated from the business and, is only prepared to offer its crew prepaid

Voice over IP (VoIP) has been gaining popularity in the maritime industry by providing crew with cheap access to voice calling. While VoIP can be viewed as a cheap alternative to PSTN, it is always advisable to compare the voice quality delivered by this service and the true cost of VoIP.

Applications, such as Skype, use very high bandwidth as it was designed to work in a terrestrial environment. Some in the maritime industry consider it slow and expensive over satcoms when compared to today’s terrestrial standards. For example, a one minute VoIP call would require approximately 1Mb of data, rendering VoIP at sea more expensive than a traditional PSTN voice service offered by satcoms providers. In addition, a two to three second delay is often experienced by users of VoIP application over satcoms services.

VoIP may appear like an attractive proposition to the maritime industry but once the true cost and quality of the service is compared, with the quality and cost of a PSTN service, the value of switching to VoIP is not as it first appears. Satellite operators continue to reduce the price of their voice pricing and the quality of calls delivered is improving, making it a more viable proposition to the market.

NSSL Crew Card Service

FleetBroadband Multivoice


In 2009 NSSL Global, an independent service provider for satellite communications solutions launched its FleetBroadband-based Crew Card service which offers a 24/365 exclusive tariff anywhere in the world via Inmarsat or NSSL Global’s own cruise network, from dedicated telephones.

FleetBroadband Multivoice allows up to nine simultaneous calls to be made through a single terminal. Vessels that require more than one voiceline will benefit from FleetBroadband Multi-voice. Implementation is flexible, for example, the bridge can be assigned as the primary inbound calling unit, allowing the remaining lines to be accessed from the ship’s PABX network. Crew members can then make personal calls in privacy, using prepaid cards, with no disruption to bridge operations.

Globe Mobile, from maritime solutions provider Globe Wireless, offers mariners the convenience of using their own GSM phones over FleetBroadband, for standard voice calls to and from the vessel, SMS and roaming onshore. Mariners insert a prepay SIM card to send and receive calls and texts in private. The SIM can be recharged at any time.


©OffComm News ~ Summer 2013


Insight Feature

Email CommBox Ship / Shore Network Manager A network management tool for mariners, with web caching and web image compression to reduce bandwidth requirements. It benefits operations, charters and/or crew and options for internet café and VoIP solutions. Compatible with maritime communications services including Inmarsat, mini-VSAT Broadband, VSAT, GSM & WiFi; the CommBox from KVH features low cost routing, prepaid roaming crew accounts and data compression facilities. Usage can be monitored in realtime.

Amos Connect Crew Amos Connect Crew offers email, SMS, internet and voice. It operates entirely separately from business communication but still allows the IT department to control the usage and define policies. Crew can enjoy the flexibility of a personal email box that can be used on any vessel with Amos Connect Crew onboard. This product automatically compresses emails to give better mileage to the crew.

Crew email solutions allow ship owners/managers to provide the facility for crew to stay in touch with friends and families but control the costs. These solutions let ship owners set the rules for mail size and attachments, control mail boxes and set quotas from the shore.


Marlink CrewEmail

SkyFile Mail from Astrium, provides reliable and costeffective email, fax and SMS messaging. It has an effective anti-virus and anti-spam filter, is available in nine languages which can be used simultaneously on different accounts. It uses the same software for prepaid or postpaid communication. It is able to compress data up to 90 percent making it very cost effective.

Email and SMS software that can be remotely accessed at onshore internet access points, enabes mariners to use the same service from any location ashore. It also allows them to keep the same email address if they move to a new CrewEmail equipped vessel. File size limits can be set using personal filters. Usage can be controlled by the use of prepaid cards or a quota system. Prepaid calling card users benefit from prepaid messaging when used together with SkyFile® Mail, advanced emailing software for use with satellite terminals.

Cont.../ ©OffComm News ~ Summer 2013 Image credit: ©Aleksey Telnov


Insight Feature


Some shipping companies deploy low cost crew internet via virtual vouchers. By investing in high volume data packages they are then able to offer connectivity to the crews in various denominations (or data chunks) at a per Mb cost. Value added features include the creation and allocation of cost centres and a differentiation in billing between business & personal use.

Virtual vouchers and segregation are important for crew and business networks onboard operating in isolation. The crew network activity must not pose any risk to business applications.

Evosat (Globecom SA) MWC

Infinity by Navarino

Evosat introduced Morale and Welfare Communications (MWC) for its FleetBroadband customers in 2010. MWC is a convenient prepaid crew calling offering that gives mariners voice and internet access, with zero risk or investment for the bill payer. Interface users access it via a web browser, where crew can upload virtual prepaid vouchers or check their balance.

Infinity allows ship owners/ managers to maximise data allowance packages with bandwidth management and optimisation solutions. It also offers ship owners the flexibility to create virtual vouchers that can be based on monetary value, data/voice usage or time based, that can be shared between crew voice and data. Infinity also offers a firewall, compression, content management as well as email for crew and business.

ŠOffComm News ~ Summer 2013

Astrium (Vizada) XChange and Universal Card Vizada XChange is a platform that provides ship owners & managers with connectivity to deliver voice, data and internet access. It offers a number of value added services for the crew including: onboard data caching, free onboard news content, media file sharing, ondemand training material and voice calls using own smart phones. Universal Card enables crew to use the internet onboard as well as make voice calls and send emails and text messages via FleetBroadband. Crew can purchase prepaid 30 or 50 minute communications credit with a standard personal debit or credit card.


Reducing VoIP & Video Call Data Consumption Designed for mobility customers, and theoretically offering connectivity at speeds close to land based broadband, a new generation of high throughput satellites is presenting more opportunities to maritime, energy and offshore users. Could such satellites finally usher in the era of the always on, connected ship?

“Maritime communications have come a long way in a short space of time. In the near future we will see them go even further at a faster pace,” says Martin Killian, VSAT product manager at Globecomm Maritime. Demand for VoIP and video chat onboard is growing strongly. For instance, our ship visits often start with the crew asking if they will be getting video chat or instant messaging “this time”. But even though demand is increasing, noone should imagine that the available applications are designed for use over satellite. It’s Globecomm’s contention that maritime users will to some extent continue to be subject to limits on bandwidth compared with shore side users. Therefore, to deliver anything like a shore side experience, ships will need to work smarter with their bandwidth, using optimised products that keep bills at reasonable levels while providing a better service.

Two new Globecomm Maritime products, Access Chat and Access Chat Plus have been specifically designed to address this need, offering a very high quality VoIP and video chat experience specifically designed for shipboard use.

“Airtime vendors and service providers are raising expectations beyond what can be delivered onboard ship in a cost effective and practical manner.” Access Chat provides instant messaging and VoIP calling/ conferencing while Access Chat Plus provides the same with the addition of video calling/conferencing. Both are very light products in terms of set up and data usage ~ no more than 1Mb in size ~ and can be installed easily on any Windows or Android device (an iOS version is due later this year) or even a USB stick.

people over Access Chat Plus generated data traffic of just 2.9MB. Over standard VoIP, the same call would use 8.2MB. Finally, a 30 minute video chat session between four people, three of them using video, one using voice only, would run to about 900Mb using commercially available video conferencing products. Access Chat reduced the data load to 11.7Mb. Bandwidth usage over Access Chat is configurable per user or customer and can be adjusted on the fly. VoIP calls can be made over data pipes as low as 8kbps and video calls with throughput rates as low as 40kbps. Typically, a user will get the same quality as a typical land-based call but will use 10 percent of the bandwidth. Use of Access Chat or Chat Plus requires a licence key and the software is available in a range of pricing options for corporate and crew use, with customised pricing available when the service is bundled with Globecomm Maritime airtime service contracts.

In our tests, a two-person, voiceonly, three minute conversation over a typical VoIP application used 4.14MB of data. Over Access Chat, just 575KB was used. A six-minute video and voice chat between two

Image ©agsandrew Fotolia

©OffComm News ~ Summer 2013


Pick up a FREE copy of OffComm News HERE! As a media partner we're really looking forward to hearing from the speakers on the latest developments and deep thinking on remote communications. Get in touch if you'd like to arrange an appointment with one of our reporters while you're there!

In my opinion... Raghuram Bala, board member and technical advisor at Fanggle shares his thoughts in our regular opinion column.

What are the top challenges for the telco industry in the remote sector currently? Many oil fields in Canada have very poor cell coverage in my experience. So this poses a challenge for telco industry to build out coverage to remote areas. Pricing plans, for machine to machine communications, also need to have a low enough price point to make it attractive from various industries to put wireless ŠOffComm News ~ Summer 2013

connectivity into devices. Right now, many vendors use wired as wireless is cost prohibitive and signal strength is poor in remote areas. Responsiveness is also key, as in the ability to fix issues when they crop up in remote places. As is durability against severe weather, such as the recent Hurricane Sandy which brought down many cell towers. What are the three new technologies or business models that will dramatically change the remote connectivity landscape in 2013 and beyond? Low cost M2M connectivity. Also, the dramatic lowering of SMS costs especially in the US. According to CNN, carrier margins on this is the

highest of all products in the universe. And lastly a combination of wireless, wired, satellite based communications to reach remote areas for better coverage. There are currently too many gaps, making remote communications too unreliable. What are the key elements that vendors should be aware of when approaching the super remote market? Reliability, responsiveness, cost and support.

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Developing Crew Internet Access Onboard The new generation of seafarers is born with a mobile in hand By Adonis Violaris, managing director Telaccount Overseas Ltd, Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement. Recent technological advances have put broadband at sea within reach of even the smallest vessels. Until some years ago, vessels travelling more than five miles offshore had one option for internet access. But today other companies are bringing technologies with facilities to communicate via satellite, such as VSAT.

Setting up a VSAT system requires knowing and working with a number of vendors to make the system complete. While previously some services have been generally based on usage charges (the more you use the more you pay), VSAT providers usually charge a flat monthly fee for unlimited internet access, which can range from $2,000 to more than $5,000 per month depending on the speed, and may also include the hardware.

VSAT offers a number of advantages at a fixed monthly rate, but unfortunately for the Ku band antennas these only work within limited coverage areas. Areas including the southern Atlantic and southern Pacific remain without Ku coverage. So far only if you installed a C band 2.4m antenna, like the ones that are used on the passenger vessels, will you be able to have an Inmarsat like global coverage. Ku-VSAT satellites, which until now are most interesting to our community, cover the most well

ŠOffComm News ~ Summer 2013

travelled areas of the globe, but there are regions where the service is unavailable. Inmarsat has better coverage, but does not cover the poles. Iridium Satellite, with its Pilot provides pole to pole coverage, but does not provide the high bandwidth available from Ku or L band systems. The Iridium Pilot link provides three separate phone lines and a data channel configurable from 9.6 to 128 Kbps. But users are charged a permegabyte fee, or a monthly fee with data limits, and the scalable internet connection isn't as fast as VSAT or Inmarsat. Three Ka band satellites, using a new network, will deliver speeds of up to 50 megabits per second (Mbps) to our vessels. Operations are expected to start in 2014 to support a next generation global service, appropriately named Global Xpress.

All You Can Eat Very Large Allowance (VLA) or All You Can Eat (AYCE) are the immediate Inmarsat responses to the flat rates from VSAT competition. Based on our vessel’s usage, we can see that today a ship can satisfy its

operational and crew requirements within the range of 10 to 15Gbyte per month. This may include crew usage of internet browsing, VoIP, instant messaging and social networking. The Inmarsat AYCE is a managed service, i.e. when usage reaches the upper limits of the plan, the company would start reducing speed to preserve the remainder of the plan until month’s end. This would allow users to continue their light browsing, email, and messaging but would limit streaming usage like video and audio conferencing, Skype and other bandwidth hogging applications. During our trials we tested both a VSAT V7 from KVH and Inmarsat VLA with FB500. We can report that both systems have performed satisfactorily, and both crew and operations have benefited from this experience. With both systems we are able to improve enterprise communication with the vessel through unified communications, streamlined vessel operations, and offered the crew unlimited internet access in both trials. Cont.../



Despite all difficulties and challenges faced during the trials, mainly due to the trading areas of the vessels and the coverage area of the Ku band, we have decided to proceed with the 6GB SCAP from Inmarsat on 80 Schulte vessels. We started with the minimum requirement to have a Shared Corporate Allowance Plan of 10 and successfully installed the iCafé on six out of those ten vessels just before Christmas.

Crew Costs In order to keep the communication costs of the vessel to an affordable level, the crew are contributing to the internet facilities provided onboard by purchasing internet PIN cards and we have cases on some vessels where all crew members purchased PIN cards. By having such a contribution from the crew side, the communication invoice of the vessel stays in affordable levels and also keeps the crew happy. The Telaccount iCafé operates like the internet access in many hotels. Crews purchase data PIN cards in order to gain access in the iCafés. During the connection, the system will show the remaining amount of data available on the PIN card, enabling people to control their usage rate. As of today we have 157 unique registered crew users on 10 vessels that have paid and used the Telaccount iCafé. This represents a 30 percent contribution to the cost of the iCafé communications project onboard. With a little bit of attention we can raise the contribution percentage to 50 to 70 percent before the end of the year.

©OffComm News ~ Summer 2013

Bandwidth From store and forward email we went to instant email and then jumped into instant messaging. From bridge controlled phone calls to home, crew dived into Skype from the privacy of their cabins. The Master had to learn how to ping and trace route, and a lot of times it was not easy. We have to manage the change, train crew, and maintain vigilance. On one of our vessels we logged the crew’s collective browse usage and discovered in excess of 500 hours a month!

With current pricing structure, the line is blurring between whether one would select VSAT vs. Inmarsat’s AYCE plans. When deploying internet café onboard, the requirements and demands from the stakeholders are very different. Owner concerns are influenced by enterprise policy, while crew concerns are totally personal. The enterprise IT department will dictate the security policies, procedures and priorities, while the cost of the project is looked at in value for dollars spent.

Today, we can identify at least two separate networks that need to coexist onboard: the vessel operations LAN and the crew LAN. Both have totally separate applications, and require different levels of security. Soon, a third network will announce its arrival onboard the fleet, the vessel system networks where engine monitoring and control data are online, ECDIS, radar and GPS are communicating. So it’s easy to see that without prioritising we’d be looking at traffic chaos. Traffic needs to be controlled in order to guarantee quality of service. One example could be to limit the bandwidth shares between applications to ensure that voice will always be available.

Crew welfare, from the enterprise point of view, will swing with market conditions and freight rates. On the other hand the crew expectations are high for services with bent up demand. Even though it has been only a few years that we have been talking about crew privacy in making phone calls at the bridge, today the crew would prefer a faster internet connection and access to social media at the work place ~ than making additional money while deprived from friend status updates.

Set Up Costs Cost control has a lot to do with cost planning. It is critical to understand the components that contribute to the cost of adding internet café service to the fleet. Adding a vessel to the corporate LAN is no different than adding a branch office: resources have to be allocated and managed. Ultimately, cost of deployment is made up of bandwidth, hardware and operations running cost.

The good news is that usage grows as the crews become more acquainted with the new environment onboard. Crews are willing to pay a reasonable price for internet access, and this will please owners as it lowers the operating cost of the new services implemented. A number of features are necessary to insure success, but mainly cost management that is done through reporting and resource management. There is no need to reinvent the wheel if you pick the right technology and support partner that puts you in control of your fleet. VSAT: Very Small Aperture Terminal


Case Study

Busted! Gemalto and Cargo Tracck Team Up For a Sting Operation Traditionally, satellite and radio monitoring were effective at policing the massive Amazon rainforest. But as thieves wizened up to the stealthy new logging strategies ~ that target small tracks of the most prized trees ~ a new monitoring and protection strategy was required.

The Amazon rainforest in Brazil is vital to stabilising the earth’s environment, producing oxygen, absorbing greenhouse gases and providing natural habitat for 30 percent of the world’s plant and animal species. However, strong global demand for rainforest wood ~ combined with the enormous profitability of illegal logging operations ~ is fueling decimation of this precious global resource at an alarming rate.

It is difficult to track timber after it has been smuggled out of the country or sold and processed at sawmills. The Cargo Tracck device provides a cost effective solution for real-time, remote monitoring and it delivers new hope for preserving one of Brazil’s most precious resources.

IBAMA, Brazil’s environmental protection agency, enlisted the help of Cargo Tracck to develop new technology to help locate and identify thieves so they can be brought to justice. Together with Gemalto, a sting operation demonstrated how powerful Machine-to-Machine (M2M) technology can be used to catch thieves in action and stop deforestation. Designed by Cargo Tracck, the discreet tracker solution uses Gemalto’s tiny and powerful Cinterion® BGS2 M2M module to enable cellular communications between trees and law enforcement. New radiation data exchange technology boosts the range of wireless communications extending the reach to extremely remote areas that lack mobile network coverage. Smaller than a deck of cards, the tracking device is camouflaged in a resin case made to blend in with the trunks of trees. Ten of the devices were covertly installed in remote active harvesting areas deep in the jungle. Night vision cameras were also installed in nearby trees to capture visual evidence of illegal logging activities.

Cargo Tracck’s geolocation technology provided location accuracy, delivering tracking data and alarm notification to officials as soon as harvested trees passed within 20 miles of a cellular network. This allowed officials to remotely track trees and intercept and arrest thieves in the act of selling timber at sawmills, which ultimately led to quicker prosecution.

The power management system of the Cinterion module provided efficiency to allow the device to operate reliably in the field for over a year without recharging batteries. So when lumber gangs harvested a tagged tree, it immediately began sending alarms to law enforcement officials.

©OffComm News ~ Summer 2013

To fight illicit logging trade, and make criminals accountable, it is vital to catch thieves in the act.

The device is small enough to remain undetected in logs, rugged enough to operate reliably in rainforest heat and moisture, and powerful enough to track trees through remote and dense forests ~ even in no or low GSM coverage areas.


©OffComm News ~ Summer 2013


©OffComm News ~ Summer 2013


Summer 2013  
Summer 2013  

The Managing Data Consumption issue