More than 80% of shipping companies now provide some level of onboard internet access to crew for welfare and operational reasons. Four out of five shipping companies that responded to a survey carried out in Q1 2019 for the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) supply online access to seafarers either for free or for a reasonable charge.
The Survey on the provision of internet access to seafarers for personal use on board ships was conducted for ICS and the European Community Shipowners Association (ECSA), with the active assistance of the Asian Shipowners’ Association, from December 2018 to January 2019.
In total, 276 shipping companies responded, representing more than 11,660 ships, with an average company fleet of 42 vessels.
82% of these respondents said they provide internet access to seafarers for personal use on board ships. Of these, 58% provide online access to crew for free.
ICS director of employment affairs Natalie Shaw said this high level of internet access was encouraging.
“Availability of internet access to seafarers for personal use on board ships has become more widespread than previously imagined,” she told Maritime Digitalisation & Communications.
“It is encouraging as there is no obligation to have this – it is not mandatory. It shows shipping companies recognise the benefits to seafarers. It is part of their strategy for retaining crew, because the brightest and best talent will need internet access.”
According to the survey, when shipping companies charge seafarers they are expected to pay on average US$0.23 per MB or equivalent packages of US$25 per 100 MB. The lowest costs from respondents were US$0.02 per MB and the highest US$1.40 per MB with common data packages costing:
- US$40 for 500 MB
- US$25 for 100 MB
- US$30 for 100 MB
- US$10 for 50 MB
Some shipping companies charge seafarers on a time allowance of US$40-50 per month or US$6 per day for unlimited availability.
Ms Shaw said these costs were consistent with requirements to provide internet access for personal use at a reasonable rate under Guideline B3.1.11 of the Maritime Labour Convention MLC 2006.