Global value for the crew communications market has dropped 30% to US$2.4Bn, but there is much more access to internet services on board worldwide fleets
Maritime crew communications’ global market value has fallen by 30% to around US$2.4Bn as technology has lowered connectivity prices. This is US$900M less than three years ago due to the falling cost of providing broadband to vessels.
According to the Crew Connectivity 2018 report*, the annual at-sea connectivity market is worth around US$1.3Bn, which is a decrease of US$500M since publication of a similar report in 2015. Prices for delivering voice, text and online applications over satellite have declined as higher capacity units have been launched.
There have also been reductions in the cost of non-satellite communications to and from ships operating in coastal waters or using terrestrial services, which has a global value of about US$1.1Bn, a decrease of US$340M from 2015.
Seafarers pay between US$175 to US$195 per month for communications at sea and in ports, of which around 60% is on ships. Monthly costs for officers are around US$107 for satellite communications and US$85 in coastal waters or ashore, while ratings pay around US$98 over satellite and US$77 by other means.
As internet and online voice services become more prevalent at sea, seafarers are paying less for these services. On average this is US$101 per month, which is a decrease of US$51 per month, or 33% less than what seafarers were paying for satellite communications in 2015. This is due to more shipowners migrating ship communications from traditional pay-per-byte L-band to fixed-cost VSAT packages.
For seafarers, the largest expenditure at sea is voice calls, on average US$46.7 per month, which is US$22 less than three years ago. Monthly seafarer internet expenditure at sea has also fallen by nearly US$20 to US$36 per month, which includes online surfing, voice over IP and social media. But email expenditure has risen by US$4 on average to US$18.7 per month.
Around a quarter (or US$337M) of the total market (of US$1.3Bn) for onboard crew communications is on passenger ships, of which there are about 7.000 in the global fleet according to Clarksons Research. Another 21.5% (US$282M) is spent in the tanker sector, 17.8% (US$234M) on general cargo ships and 16.8% (US$221M) on bulk carriers. There are more than 17,250 tankers, 16,450 general cargo ships and 11,600 bulk carriers worldwide.
Another finding from the crew connectivity survey was that a quarter of seafarers still do not have access to internet services on board the ships they serve on. This is despite more than 90% saying that connectivity strongly influences their decision on which vessels to join.
Around 75% of the 6,000 serving seafarers questioned said they had internet access, which is a rise of 32% since a similar survey was conducted in 2015.
From this figure, it is estimated by the survey report authors that around 520,000 more seafarers have gained access to internet connectivity in the last three years. Operators of passenger ships and offshore vessels provide the highest levels of internet access with more than 90% of survey respondents in these sectors reporting that online applications were accessible on vessels.
There has also been significant improvements in internet access on merchant ships. Access on tankers has risen from 39% in 2015 to 80% in 2018. Around 65% of seafarers on container ships have access compared with just 25% three years ago.
However, there are negative impacts from rising internet access. 53% of seafarers believe that crew communications had led to a decline in social interaction on board. And, only 15% of seafarers reported having received some form of cyber security training.
|Market value of crew communications at sea|
|Sector||Market value (US$M)||% of total|
|Bulk cargo ship||221||16.8|
|General cargo ship||234||17.8|
|Access to crew communications by sector|
|Sector||% of seafarers|
|Bulk cargo ship||56|
|General cargo ship||44|
|Provision of internet access (% of seafarers)|
|Average crew expenditure on communications (US$/month)|
|over satellite||non satellite|
*Crew Connectivity 2018 Survey Report was produced by Futurenautics Maritime in collaboration with InterManager, BIMCO, KVH Industries, Intelsat, Alpha Navigation, PTC and the International Seafarers Welfare and Assistance Network