ITC Global chief executive Ian Dawkins explains the restructuring programme and future technology developments after six months in his role
Ian Dawkins has been ITC Global chief executive since April 2017 and already made an impact in the company’s restructuring. He is driving the company to increasingly use the VSAT satellite and teleport network that its parent company Panasonic has secured, through leasing and capacity utilisation contracts, to deliver more solutions for maritime, offshore and cruise ship operators.
“Panasonic’s ambition is to use high throughput satellites that are coming online, to build the largest Ku-band network and apply this globally in maritime,” Mr Dawkins explained exclusively to Marine Electronics & Communications. ITC Global can then use this network to deliver VSAT connectivity and enabled services, such as crew welfare packages, remote monitoring and video streaming.
“A year from now [September 2018], we will be more aligned with Panasonic so that we are fully using its comprehensive network infrastructure to quickly respond to what is happening in the [maritime] market,” he said. There could also be opportunities for growth as Mr Dawkins expects some companies could be up for sale after sector mergers, while others could be struggling to remain in business. “We are in a position in maritime and energy to pick up new business,” he said.
Part of the strategy is to have redundancy in the satellite and teleport network so users are unaffected by any faults. “We have a recovery process to reposition to other teleports or other satellites in case there is a failure,” Mr Dawkins explained. “We have to provide near 100% uptime to clients.” ITC Global’s worldwide mobility network is comprehensive enough “to offer multiple coverage options in case of beam failures”.
“We have a recovery process to reposition to other teleports or other satellites in case there is a failure”
Part of his VSAT strategy is to deliver services through channel partners, such as Radio Holland. ITC Global is able to build this distribution network because it has access to high-throughput satellites, such as Intelsat’s EpicNG constellation and its ground stations. “By taking on the capital expense requirements associated with the networks, we remove a critical barrier to entry for our partners and we are developing that further,” he added.
ITC Global launched a new crew welfare solution, CrewLive, in the middle of last year and since seeing significant growth in its usage. There are now more than 25,000 registered users globally and CrewLive needs at least 1.8 Tb of data per month to keep seafarers connected. Average download speeds are between 4-8 Mbps.
“Taking that much data off of our customers’ corporate networks makes a huge difference,” Mr Dawkins explained. “Some customers have seen considerable savings in monthly corporate network bills because crew are no longer making personal calls using corporate bandwidth.” CrewLive removes crew devices from the corporate network, improving security. It is used for social media, communications with family and friends, entertainment and conducting personal business. This can include online banking, educational training, online shopping, and live video streaming while on board.
Remote system monitoring is also a key reason for vessel operators to use ITC Global VSAT. Mr Dawkins thinks there are many benefits that come from these applications. “When equipment is linked for remote monitoring in real time, then shipowners can optimise maintenance, reduce expensive downtime, and handle upkeep and support before equipment failure,” he explained.
Ship operators can monitor key parameters and investigate issues that are identified by the monitoring tools. For example, “vibration alerts can indicate issues with equipment performance and provide an early warning of failures.” By downloading equipment data, vessel operators can also analyse performance trends and the ability of crew to navigate ships effectively. “Data can be fed back to shore managers to reduce the risk of costly incidents and can also be used for training,” Mr Dawkins said.
Video streaming is also becoming an important application of ITC Global VSAT services, especially for offshore oil and cruise customers. “We have been seeing demand for remote video streaming to support subsea monitoring,” he explained. “Being able to deploy these services quickly and effectively to deliver 24/7 live video is going to be key.”
In the cruise sector, video streaming enables the live feed of events, such as major sporting events, on cruise ships. Or it can be used for streaming guest videos on to social media. “It is all about enhancing the customer experience and enabling streamlined connectivity and entertainment,” said Mr Dawkins.
ITC Global is continuing to introduce new technology to enhance crew welfare, video streaming and remote monitoring. In 2018, it will introduce the Newtec high bandwidth satellite modem platform to maritime customers. “We anticipate the new modem technology will deliver significant performance gains, compared to legacy modem platforms, in terms of keeping pace with satellite network innovations and being able to fully support high throughput satellites.”
These developments will further align ITC Global with Panasonic’s aim to grow VSAT business in maritime, offshore and passenger shipping.
Ian Dawkins joined ITC Global on 1 April 2017 after 23 years at Airbus, six years at a joint venture with Airbus and time in private equity organisations.