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Inmarsat extends Fleet LTE coverage to Gulf of Mexico

Eric Griffin, vice president Offshore & Fishing, Inmarsat Maritime. Eric Griffin, vice president Offshore & Fishing, Inmarsat Maritime.

Inmarsat has announced plans to extend its ‘three-in-one’ Fleet LTE coverage for offshore service vessels to the Gulf of Mexico, following successful trials with V.Ships Offshore in the North Sea area.

In conjunction with Inmarsat’s service provider One Net, the North Sea trials were undertaken with ship management company V.Ships Offshore at the beginning of 2020, delivering hybrid connectivity via 4G cellular plus satellite coverage on VSAT Ka-band and L-band, without the complication of dual billing or the risk of disconnection.

The new Gulf of Mexico coverage extension adds to the existing agreement already in place with subsea fibre and offshore LTE network operator, Tampnet, following the Fleet LTE North Sea service launch in November 2019.

“We’ve been thoroughly impressed with the stability and quality of Fleet LTE service throughout the trial and the automatic and seamless switching between networks, which has removed the risk of any disconnection in service that would normally effect our day-to-day activities,” said Scott Bryce, vessel manager, V.Ships Offshore. “The service plan flexibility has also given us the ability to move up and down plans when needed, to support our changing bandwidth demands, and there are no hidden admin fees to worry about.”

The expansion of the Fleet LTE service means customers in both the North Sea and Gulf of Mexico can access high speed 4G, Fleet Xpress maritime VSAT Ka-band and continuous L-band connectivity within a single, fully managed hybrid package.

“The trial success with V.Ships Offshore supported by our partner One Net, is a real proof point for Fleet LTE and we are excited about the evolution of the service into the Gulf of Mexico, to support the recovery of the offshore sector and expansion into other regions and sectors in the future,” said Eric Griffin, vice president Offshore & Fishing, Inmarsat Maritime.

Inmarsat Fleet LTE is available in a range of service bands that deliver data speeds of up to 40 Mbps with round trip delay of around 35-40ms. However, when LTE is not available, services automatically switch over to Ka-band Fleet Xpress committed information rates, with continuous back-up from L-band FleetBroadband.

“Inmarsat is a leader in a market that has significant untapped potential for Tampnet’s premium LTE services, and we are really pleased to extend our agreement to the Gulf of Mexico based on the success of the trials,” said Tampnet CEO, Per Helge Svensson.

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    Now after many years elsewhere, (similar to Yoda in swamp planet of Dagobah), I have decided to return to one of my favorite types of pieces.

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    Addressing the title of this piece, merchant ships come in a number of shapes, sizes and purposes.

    Breaking out the merchant market from a bird’s eye view; there are roughly 150,000 MSS and VSAT satellite subscriptions in the market. This may confuse some, due to the popularly touted figure of 80-90,000 merchant vessels (depending on your source and classifications). Clearly, this number is less than the number of maritime satellite subscriptions.

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    Emergence of VSAT technology

    In the past, merchant operators were satisfied with just MSS (L-band) services, however, over the last decade the use of VSAT technology has become a dominant force within all commercial maritime vessels. There are around 20,000 VSAT merchant vessels active today.

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    One of my favourite research interviews of 2021 was with a Cypriot service provider. I won’t say which one or whom, however, it was most definitely one of my most entertaining.

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    Average Monthly Connectivity Revenues in Merchant Vessel in 2019

    MSS only

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    MSS & VSAT

    $800

    Ku-band

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    Ka-band

    $1,300 (this will have increased in 2020 & 2021)

    Bulk Carrier

    $1,300

    LNG

    $3,000 to $4,000

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