Vessel owners can reduce communications costs by controlling onboard connectivity and crew internet access
Managers can reduce communications costs, monitor usage, apply tougher security and control connectivity by deploying specialist services on top of their VSAT technology.
AST’s Integra provides management services for communications using frequencies including Ku, Ka- and C-band VSAT bands and L-band.
“These services are a real game-changer when it comes to giving shipping companies the ability to save money and manage their data effectively,” says AST Group marine director Stuart Castell.
“Shipping companies have the ability to monitor and control their data usage down to the application level, even encrypted applications’ use can be viewed and controlled,” he explains.
“Fleet managers can set data limits and real-time usage alerts and block individual applications easily from our online portal,” says Mr Castell. “Shipping companies want to know how the data is used on board and if the service is effective. They can save money and have control over their communications.”
AST’s Integra suite includes a free application, Integra SEE, for shipping companies to monitor communications. This provides a category-based view of all the data used monthly and a list providing the top 10 applications used on board.
Its Integra SEE+ provides enhanced visibility, giving companies additional options such as viewing application use in each category and viewing data usage in detail for the past three months, says Mr Castell.
Shipping companies can opt for a Control Lite package for more control. This enables them to set alerts on data usage for particular categories or the whole service. They can upgrade to Integra Control 1.5 to control and block categories and applications, while setting bandwidth speeds per category and for the whole service.
All services are set in the network via AST’s online customer portal, rather than on board, “which gives the fleet manager and owners complete control” says Mr Castell.
AST has also developed hardware on vessels for visibility and connectivity control. Integra Edge manages all the onboard connectivity from cellular, wifi, L-band and VSAT communications.
It enables captains to monitor communications speed and throughput in real-time so they can check data speeds and ensure there are no interruptions. There is an intelligent failover system that will automatically switch to L-band if there are VSAT issues.
There is also a full crew captive portal allowing seafarers to access internet applications without affecting onboard operations. Integra Edge enables ship masters to control access or block users or devices.
For cyber security there are firewalls, virtual local area network support and other services. Shore managers can monitor and manage vessel connectivity using the Integra Edge cloud service.
AST offers VSAT in C-band and Ku-band through its partnership with Panasonic/ITC Global and other networks. It provides Ka-band using Telenor Satellite’s Thor 7 and Inmarsat’s Fleet Xpress service. It is also a Tier 1 supplier of L-band for Iridium and Inmarsat.