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Maritime Digitalisation & Communications

Training and media content adds value to VSAT

Wed 04 Apr 2018 by Martyn Wingrove

Training and media content adds value to VSAT
KVH delivers news, films and sports content through VSAT and IP-MobileCast

KVH and Marlink provide e-training programs while ITC has begun testing a media content delivery service

Demand for onboard media and e-training is growing, driving VSAT providers to develop delivery technology and gain access to video content. For example, Marlink entered into a partnership with Seagull Maritime in March to introduce onboard e-learning content.

Together they are creating an online service with VSAT access for distributing and updating e-training material. This combines Marlink’s Sealink VSAT and Seagull’s extensive library of digital training programs.

They are working to streamline and automate e-learning content distribution and management. To achieve a fully digitalised service, Seagull software will be installed on Marlink’s XChange centralised IT and communications management platform. This will enable onboard hosting and monitoring of Seagull’s software for training and qualification of seafarers.

Seagull software will be installed on Marlink’s XChange centralised IT and communications management platform

This service will enable seafarers to update their knowledge of the latest safe and efficient vessel operation practices during their off-duty time on ships. Online distribution of the content will ensure ships have the latest e-learning modules and software versions, which can be adjusted to customer’s specific training requirements.

As more training and media content is added to VSAT services, providers need to increase their data rates. Marlink announced in February that it had doubled burst rate throughput on Sealink without changing the cost. It increased the maximum information rate that Sealink could deliver to ships from 3 Mbps to 6 Mbps. There are eight allowance plans from 1 GB to 80 GB, which shipowners can switch between during their contract period.

Media casting

KVH Industries provides media and training content using its IP-MobileCast technology and mini-VSAT Broadband network. Vessels can connect to both using KVH’s own TracPhone series of antennas, which includes TracPhone V7-HTS for connection to high throughput satellites. This 60 cm antenna enables data download speeds of up to 10 Mbps.

Others in the series are TracPhone V11-IP, V7-IP and V3-IP. These are connected to KVH’s Integrated CommBox Modem that has antenna control, a high-throughput modem, voice over IP adapter and integrated wifi and Ethernet switches.

IP-MobileCast delivers KVH’s exclusive training and media content to vessels during periods of low bandwidth demand. Content includes news, films, TV programmes, sports events, weather data, ECDIS-compatible chart updates and e-training programs. In September 2017, KVH introduced Videotel Performance Manager, a maritime training solution combining content and web-based data analytics.

Panasonic Avionics subsidiary ITC Global unveiled a video-on-demand (VOD) service over VSAT in March this year. This is being added to its existing maritime social service Crew Live internet service platform, which has 30,000 registered users.

VOD services will provide users with access to a library holding at least 100 films and 15 TV series in remote work sites. These will be delivered over VSAT to onboard servers that crew can access with their own mobile devices over vessel wireless networks. There is a self-service portal on the server and seafarers will need to download ITC’s media player application to gain access to the content.

Field trials for this VOD service began in March at Crew Live sites. These trials will continue through Q2 2018, with more VOD deployments and upgrades to existing Crew Live sites. Content will be offered in multiple languages with subtitle support.

VOD services will be encrypted and have digital rights to prevent piracy and protect the integrity of intellectual property. ITC conducts critical security and compliance screening to ensure the VOD offering meets these legal and licensing requirements.

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