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Singapore initiative to bring wireless internet to vessels

  • Friday, 28 September 2007 | News

Singapore has launched a new initiative worth about US$8 million aimed at providing wireless internet access to vessels off its coast.

Speaking at the International Maritime and Port Technology and Development conference (MTEC), Minister for Transport Raymond Lim outlined the country's vision to offer improved maritime communications services to ships travelling to and from the port.

"Technology is critically important to the maritime industry," he said. "There is today zero tolerance for sub-standard shipping."

"To be in the port and marine business today, you have to be also in the technology business. Technology can give a valuable competitive edge to the company that invests in it well. The MPA (Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore) has made promoting maritime technology one of its key areas of focus."

The latest step in the MPA's efforts is the Infocomm@Seaport programme, a S$12 million joint initiative by MPA and the Infocomm Development Authority, or IDA, to encourage greater development and use of maritime information communication technologies.

The programme will co-fund information communications technology projects that Mr Lim hopes will "enhance the maritime industry's operational efficiency." The first project under the scheme is the wireless-broadband access for Seaport, or WISEPORT, pilot project.

"Developed in response to feedback from the maritime community, WISEPORT will provide vessels with high bandwidth, low-cost and secure wireless broadband access up to 15 kilometres from Singapore's coastline," Mr Lim explained.

"When the system is in place by early 2008, Singapore will be the first port in the world to offer wireless broadband connectivity throughout its waters."

"WISEPORT will benefit ships, harbour craft, and other port users. They will be able to submit documentation, request for bunkering and ship chandling services and access other electronic services more efficiently and at lower cost."

"It will also enable the development of new services, such as the updating of shipboard software and electronic navigational charts using wireless communications," he added.

Mr Lim said that MPA and IDA are now currently in the process of selecting a service provider to set up the hardware for the WISEPORT service, and that, following a one-year pilot trial, full commercial deployment of the wireless broadband service will take place in early 2009.

MPA and IDA will also be issuing a "Call for Collaborations? to IT vendors in the industry to assist in the development of new content and software applications for WISEPORT.

"I look forward to the participation of the maritime and ICT communities in the pilot trial and content development for WISEPORT," said Mr Lim.

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