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Marine Electronics & Communications

Marine Electronics & Communications

Exclusive: Ronald Spithout: Ships will become hyper-connected

Wed 21 Jun 2017 by Martyn Wingrove

Exclusive: Ronald Spithout: Ships will become hyper-connected
Ronald Spithout: "Owners will not be able to afford to have vessels out of coverage"

The growing connectivity of people, machinery and assets now seen on land will be extended out to sea as part of a hyper-connected society. This is one of the predictions from Inmarsat Maritime president Ronald Spithout. He expects that maritime will become part of this connected society, with ship systems and crew communicating using broadband over satellite.

“People expect, and rely on, internet access everywhere, and this will be at sea, too, in the future,” Mr Spithout said. “This is why we need a mobile network with seamless and global coverage with no gaps in coverage cells.” He expects shipping to shift decisively towards high speed broadband, data-heavy digital services and the internet of things.

He described Inmarsat’s assets that produce the global coverage as critical network infrastructure for maritime connectivity. “Owners will not be able to afford to have vessels out of coverage or in a network that has different characteristics [such as slower L-band], which is why we built more Global Xpress satellites,” explained Mr Spithout.

Maritime will be competing far more in the future for the available connectivity with other industries, especially aviation, which is why more Ka-band capacity will be added in the future. “Bandwidth will need to be higher and more flexible. We will need high-end capacity, virtual machines and an applications ecosystem,” Mr Spithout said.

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