Maritime—it’s an industry that evokes images of great ships traveling far out on the high seas for months at a time. But much of the maritime industry actually consists of merchant ships and private yachts that operate in regional waters. Millions of cargo ships, tankers, fishing boats, cruise ships, yachts, and patrol vessels travel closer to shore and mostly from port to port rather than across oceans. In the past, owners, guests, and crews onboard these vessels couldn’t access e-mail, browse the Internet, or conduct online business with consistent broadband connectivity in this wet, choppy environment.
But now with the help of Hughes technology, a Cyprus-based telecommunications service provider is solving that challenge. Global Marine Communications (GMC) recently launched its new satellite service for the maritime industry, delivering affordable high-speed Internet access, Voice over IP (VoIP), and data communications services in the Mediterranean and North Seas, including Europe, the Middle East, and northern Africa. In addition, GMC roaming service plans are available that extend coverage to North America, the Caribbean Sea, and Australia.
The GMC communications solution combines the Hughes HN series satellite broadband system and HughesNet broadband satellite service over Ku-band satellites. Fully compliant with the IPoS/DVB-S2 satellite standard, including Adaptive Coding & Modulation (ACM), this solution enables high throughput using Ku-band antenna sizes smaller than previously possible on vessels. The compact, gyroscopic stabilized satellite antenna was specifically engineered for the harsh marine environment b Orbit Marine, a leading designer and manufacturer of marine-stabilized satellite communications antennas. GMC also offers technical support, design, installation, and integration services to its marine customers.
GMC’s new service offers cost-effective voice and data communications in several convenient monthly service packages for different speed and usage requirements. When traveling across oceans, vessels can rely on a variety of Inmarsat services and switch to the GMC service in regional waters. In the future, GMC plans to add network operations centers to expand availability in new service regions and to collaborate with operators in South America and Asia to provide global coverage.
“Onboard Internet is a necessity for ship owners today,” said Keary Cannon, vice president of marketing and sales for Hughes Europe. “It is much easier to lease and get crews for vessels that have always-on broadband access, rather than a system with per-minute charges and low data rates. Not only does a Hughes satellite terminal with the Orbit stabilized antenna provide affordable broadband access at download speeds of 2 Mbps or higher, but GMC can also offer a variety of dedicated or shared bandwidth options using HughesNet Ku-band coverage.”
“This service meets an exploding demand for consistent coverage in coastal areas,” said Alex Ekonomou, technical director, Global Marine Communications. “In addition to the wealth of satellite communications expertise, equipment, and services that Hughes brings, the Orbit antenna is a marvelous work of engineering that enables a highly reliable service in this harsh, wet, salty, and mobile environment.”
The new GMC service is also ideal for the oil and gas sector, which is increasingly using broadband satellite technology for both day-to-day operations and for reliable backup services on offshore platforms.
As the maritime industry continues to grow, the people who travel, work, and live on board can remain confident that their communications will stay anchored via satellite, even while they move freely across the seven seas.