5G communications technology will unlock new connectivity applications and help transform vessel operations, said experts at Riviera’s ‘5G’s impact on maritime operations’ webinar.
This fifth generation of global mobile communications will bring a new era to maritime connectivity for real-time data transmissions, super-faster crew welfare and video applications.
This 5G revolution comes as 2G services are turned off and companies have already invested in 4G and long term evolution (LTE) mobile networks.
And as 3G is eventually retired, it is anticipated 4G/LTE and 5G networks will carry greater volumes of voice, video, internet and data traffic.
Riviera’s ‘5G’s impact on maritime operations’ webinar focused on the extent 5G can and will transfer into the maritime industry and where vessel operators can integrate its benefits. It was sponsored by ST Engineering iDirect and was the concluding event during Riviera’s Maritime Communications Webinar Week.
P&O Maritime Logistics operations director Paul Jarkiewicz provided an offshore support vessel and tug owner’s perspective on the beneficial applications that 5G should enable.
He was joined on the panel by Vodafone Roaming Services head of strategic development Gerrit Jan Konijnenberg and ST Engineering iDirect head of mobility Andrew Faiola.
They discussed in detail the extent to which 5G connectivity will transform maritime, its port and coastal coverage and satellites’ role in enabling 5G. They presented information showing how vessels could use 4G/LTE and 5G in the future for optimisation and crew connectivity.
Mr Jarkiewicz said he believes vessel operators will be able to transform their operations by leveraging connectivity from 5G networks.
“5G will be a real enabler,” he said. “5G will enable transfer of data much faster with reduced latency. Broadband at sea will be a game changer, with many more possibilities.”
Larger volumes of data will be transferred from ship to shore for analytics. Information will be transmitted back to vessels to support onboard operations, said Mr Jarkiewicz.
“5G will change strategies for data collection and allow us to collaborate with vessel management teams,” he said.
Mr Konijnenberg expects development of global coverage of 5G networks will take several years, but progress could be made in two. He said there would be networks in 10 countries by the end of this year. Within two more years there should be Vodafone 5G networks in 19 countries and 43 partner networks, he surmised.
“5G will benefit the maritime sector with lower latency and higher speeds,” said Mr Konijnenberg.
5G networks will be available in ports and there will be coastal coverage. Mr Konijnenberg expects low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites will be used to extend this into the world’s seas. “It will not just be for shore. We expect hybrid coverage in three years’ time,” he said.
Mr Faiola agreed satellite coverage will be integrated with terrestrial networks.
“LEO satellites, high altitude platforms and terrestrial networks will be integrated for one coverage solution that increases capacity and reduces latency,” he said.
This hybrid solution will bring faster connectivity with “more reliability and greater improvement in quality of service” said Mr Faiola.
5G will enable edge computing, cloud-based applications and other services. “5G is a tool that enables new applications – but it is down to the user to know what to do with this connectivity,” said Mr Faiola.
For a full list of attendee poll results, please scroll down.
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Webinar attendees poll results
Are you considering satellite + 4G/5G hybrid solutions for your vessel?
To what extent will 4G/5G bring your total communications costs down and help optimise your bandwidth
Up to 10%: 10%
10% - 25%: 20%
25- 50%: 25%
50% - 75%: 10%
75% - 100%: none
Select what you see as the most important benefit 4G/5G can bring:
Reduced communication costs: 12%
Faster speeds near shore: 48%
Reliable connection near shore: 28%
Back-up for satellite: 12%