Shipowners are demanding ever more from their communications providers, not just in terms of service quality and speed, but in the management of onboard networks, the services available to them, and the need for protection of their assets.
The good news for ship owners is that there has never been a time when there are more effective options available at affordable costs. To navigate those options, we recommend asking and answering three fundamental questions:
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1. Are you creating a manageable network — or just installing more boxes?
The most significant advance in communications in recent years has been the integration of stand-alone technologies into end-to-end solutions. For ship owners, the difference between the days of box-juggling and today is huge. Integration not only simplifies operations — it reduces the total cost of ownership and increases the positive impact of the network on every aspect of operations.
An integrated, smart network management platform can:
- Connect to and operate on onboard information systems, tablets, and phones instead of separate terminals.
- Seamlessly transition service between shore-based 4G/LTE, L-band satellite and VSAT, automatically selecting the highest performance for the lowest cost.
- Manage different kinds of traffic — voice, internet, email, video — and give each the priority it deserves.
- Automatically match the demands of different applications with the capabilities of the available networks so that users perceive — not a patchwork of different options — but a single, wide area network operating at optimal efficiency.
2. Can the network support all the services you need — or are you juggling multiple solutions?
An integrated smart network provides the platform. It is the services and applications running on it, however, which deliver value to the ship, its crew, the business and its customers.
That network should be able to support every application you currently need — and have the potential to provide services that are just hitting your wish list. For example, it should be able to:
- Provide officers with voice, email messaging and even video-conferencing on a par with the traditional corporate network.
- Support both ship operations and crew welfare, with a pay-for-service model that enables crew members to purchase the connectivity they need.
- Offer digital charts, weather data and other aids to navigation.
- Integrate data from IoT sensors monitoring engines, systems and cargo condition, and transit it to a central office for real-time analysis.
- Support safety and security monitoring systems using both data and video.
- Provide access to cloud-based applications for personnel management, ship management, and other services.
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