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  • Article published in Offshore Support Journal

12.03.20

A recent survey* on crew connectivity revealed that the number of seafarers able to access the internet at sea had risen by more than half a million and that, on average, seafarers now take three devices onboard.

This rising tide of smartphones, laptops, smart watches and personal fitness trackers hungrily compete for expensive satellite traffic.

Organisations must now balance providing crew connectivity and access to the internet with the operational imperatives of the project and business-at-large. This balancing act may seem straight-forward. Of course, the priority must be vital navigation and communications equipment that ensures everyone is safe and preserves operational integrity.

Meeting seafarers’ expectations

However, operators are well-aware of the expectations of today's seafaring workforce. Ensuite cabins, gyms and even cinemas on work barges and accommodation vessels, offer hard-working crews some of the comforts of home. Views on what facilities are acceptable may vary from east to west but there’s no doubt that the level of crew connectivity provided is quickly becoming a major factor in deciding which vessel operator seafarers are willing to work for.

With the number of connected seafarers and proliferation of devices on the up, businesses will need new tools to accurately assess vessel bandwidth and to make intelligent decisions for effective resource management.

Customer-centric solutions and innovations

Applied Satellite Technology Ltd (AST) has been successfully developing remote connectivity solutions for nearly 30 years. The company achieved early growth through effective partnerships with satellite constellation and service providers whilst a well-oiled supply chain empowered the business to become a global player in satellite terminal and handset sales.

Today, solutions selling and AST’s own software products have become cornerstones of AST’s offering. AST’s flagship software solution is INTEGRA, a suite of bandwidth and application management tools delivered by an intelligent, global IP network. All accessible via an easy to use secure web portal.

A barge with a social media problem

When an offshore project requires a major workforce for long periods a specialist vessel is required. Work barges can be home to hundreds of personnel and provide a multitude of facilities for crew welfare. These large vessels are designed to allow a workforce to support offshore construction and maintenance projects.

AST worked with one such vessel to help the vessel operator understand how data traffic was being consumed on-board and the subsequent impact on the vessel operations teams both on-board and shoreside. At times of full occupancy hundreds of workers could be attempting to access the internet at any one time.

Smarter traffic management

Using AST’s INTEGRA traffic-management software the vessel operator was able to see all on-board network traffic in real-time. Although the remote vessel has an on-board managed IT network by viewing bar charts and a list of top ten applications via INTEGRA the customer quickly identified that the network was being bypassed. Subsequently, YouTube and Facebook accounted for a whopping 20GB of the crew’s satellite data usage per month. These bandwidth-hungry applications were having a huge impact on the 2mbps VSAT connection and just one rogue user on the vessel was impacting the whole vessel connection for business and crew needs.

An easy upgrade unlocked the full functionality of the INTEGRA platform and gave the shoreside vessel operator the ability to create quotas, set email alerts, block application categories or target specific applications across the vessel, simply at the click of a mouse.

Chris Schonhut, AST’s Maritime Sales Manager EMEA said: “The real value of AST’s INTEGRA network is technology intelligence. With INTEGRA, Fleet IT Managers, Marine Superintendents, Operations Directors and anyone else responsible for managing vessel connectivity have full visibility and control of the applications in use at any one time. Understanding how satellite traffic is being consumed onboard empowers vessel operators to make intelligent business decisions about future digital strategies. We give customers the tools to safeguard critical communications and avoid unwanted bandwidth usage, subsequently saving money.”

*Crew Connectivity Survey Report 2018 (Futurenautics).

Get your satellite communications under control with AST, the global provider of intelligent, remote communications. ASTs INTEGRA software is the first solution to deliver real-time application control for satellite communications.

To learn more and discuss your requirements call our team of friendly experts on +44 (0)1493 440 011 or email info@theastgroup.com.

Wherever you are, whatever your remote connectivity requirements, AST has a solution. To discuss how we can take you further with one of the friendly team call +61 89 205 4000 or email info@theastgroup.com

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