The year 2020 will go down in the history books as a year full of unexpected turns, with the COVID-19 pandemic changing the world
By: Wouter Deknopper, VP & GM of Maritime, Iridium Communications
Almost every industry has been affected in some way by the pandemic, and shipping is one example of those being severely impacted. Maritime trade as an industry relies upon movement. For example, the movement of cargo to and from a vessel; the movement of pilots to assist in the vessel’s safe passage; the movement of supplies, goods and provisions; and the movement of crew rotation. The pandemic has forced the world to re-evaluate patterns of movement and has consequently reshaped businesses around it.
Humankind has faced such globally sweeping changes before, and frequently rapid technical and scientific innovation have been our resolution. A swift response to the COVID-19 pandemic was for friends, family and businesses to rely on the Internet to stay connected during enforced social distancing. Despite a relatively short period of adjustment, conducting business via videoconference or webinar is now considered the “new normal.”
For most people, high speed Internet connectivity delivered via 4G/LTE or fiber Internet is an essential part of modern life. For vessel owners and managers, where high-speed Internet connectivity on-board is still not commonplace, this has increased the race towards digitalization. For example, the digitalization of traditionally paper-based tasks on-board has always been a desire for most vessel owners. Some owners have embraced the race towards digitalization, with many tasks transferring to the screen instead of paper. The current pandemic is creating a surge in technical innovation, increasing the speed of digital transformation within the maritime segment. Even the International Maritime Organization (IMO) is considering that the post-COVID recovery will be accelerated through digitalization.
The lifeblood of digitalization within the maritime industry is connectivity. While the market is increasingly turning towards VSAT for connectivity, potential signal blockage and inclement weather conditions can still impair reliability. Other geostationary constellations are less affected by inclement weather, but equally affected by signal blockage. These elements can easily place a block on the path to digitalization.
Iridium Certus® creates a unique proposition for vessel owners and operators. Iridium’s low earth orbit (LEO) constellation significantly reduces the risk of signal blockage, while delivering the fastest L-band speeds available. In real terms, this means that critical data can be transferred fast and reliably, allowing for more instantaneous responses between the ship and the shore.
Additionally, as the trade routes for commercial vessels become more widespread, the need for global connectivity increases. This is even more apparent once a vessel leaves a VSAT coverage area. Iridium Certus provides both primary plans, for vessels operating either without VSAT or predominantly outside a VSAT coverage zone, or for VSAT-equipped vessels, a unique VSAT companion solution, delivering reliable and dependable connectivity to accompany a VSAT terminal.
Any network is only as dependable as the equipment that operates on it. Iridium Certus terminals are produced by world class manufacturers Cobham, Intellian and Thales. All terminals provide up to 704 kbps download, with light-weight, small, solid-state antennas that are designed to face the toughest environmental conditions.
Although the post-COVID-19 world is uncertain, we know that the future for shipping will be digital. Iridium has a new, advanced satellite constellation and is designed to underpin the digital future of the maritime segment. For a limited time, in support to vessel owners and managers who want to speed up their digital transformation, Iridium and its service providers have designed an incentive program to facilitate upgrading to the newest Iridium Certus technology. The promotional program will not only help take away the burden of capital expenditure associated with a long-term communications upgrade but will help reduce operational expenditure from day one.
To learn more about Iridium Certus and upgrade your service, please www.iridiumcertus.com/upgrade
For more information about all of Iridium’s maritime solutions and capabilities, please visit: www.iridium.com/solutions/maritime/