At a time when some 60 per cent of Middle Eastern companies report that they are now actively investing in digital technologies, digitalised vessels have a competitive advantage when it comes to adapting to challenges and optimising business opportunities. The United Arab Emirates is one of the top 20 most digitally advanced economies in the world, and in the maritime sector, many Middle East port operators are turning to the Internet of Things (IoT) to drive value in the digital economy, which is estimated to grow to a value of $14 trillion by 2030.
Until now these digital benefits have been unavailable to small and mid-sized vessels. However, IEC Telecom has joined forces with Thuraya, the leading global satellite operator, to bring affordable quality satcom technology to customers with limited onboard space via the cutting-edge Orion Edge V. The new solution enables a VSAT-like communications experience over L-band with access to a cloud-based system, offering a wide range of telecom services.
Incorporating IEC Telecom’s ground-breaking OneGate system into the pre-existing Orion Edge solution has brought communications to a new level with a wide range of telecom services now available via a virtual platform. ICT managers can monitor and control the network across all vessels of their fleet remotely via a user-friendly set of dashboards. New services, including telemedicine, videoconferencing, and remote maintenance, can be added on demand via IEC Telecom’s application store.
Following the successful launch in Asia-Pacific at the end of November 2020, IEC Telecom and Thuraya introduced this digital game-changer to EMEA customers during the Seatrade Maritime Middle East Virtual event, a three-day tradeshow and conference, which took place in Dubai from 14th to16 th December, 2020. Nabil Ben Soussia, CEO for Asia, Middle East & CIS, IEC Telecom Group, and Shawkat Ahmed, chief commercial officer, Thuraya Telecommunications Company, also shared their knowledge and experience during a deep dive live session on Tuesday,
December 15 th , where they outlined how the virtualisation of telecommunication services presents new opportunities for all vessel types.
Mr. Ben Soussia said: “Today we are experiencing a significantly higher demand for digital solutions, which has been escalated by the pandemic. Launching Orion Edge V in the UAE market has highlighted the benefits of digitalisation that are now available even to small vessels via state-of-the-art virtual platforms, keeping in mind investment and space constraints.”
Mr. Ahmed stated, “We are pleased to work with IEC Telecom to develop this connectivity solution, which brings significant benefits to an important market segment. In today’s competitive marketplace, innovation is key to success. You need to be able to adapt quickly to business requirements with efficient solutions. Orion Edge V packs the broadband capabilities of Thuraya’s Orion IP terminal with the
reliable voice, tracking, and monitoring features of Thuraya MarineStar. The combination offers a stable voice and data connectivity solution that can easily be transferred to another vessel, if needed.”
Digitalisation enables optimised operations, cost efficiency, and a competitive advantage, and the COVID-19 pandemic has further served to accentuate the need for digital solutions in the maritime sector. In the past, digitalisation was reserved for large vessels connected to VSAT. Virtualisation of telecommunication services extends this benefit to all vessel types over compact L-band terminals.
Globally, the small boats sector has evolved steadily over recent years and is forecasted to grow at 7 per cent by 2024 to become a $13.8 billion industry. The UAE fleet includes numerous smaller vessels, particularly those supporting its growing offshore oil and gas sector.
Mr. Ben Soussia commented, “For small ships, such as offshore support vessels, it is important to remain within tight budgetary requirements. This agile product gives you the confidence to be in control of costs while benefitting from all that is possible through digital communications now and for years to come. To support this market, IEC Telecom offers Orion Edge V with flexible tariff plans and an option of free hardware for project-based subscriptions, enabling fleet managers to get their vessel connected with zero capital investment in a short span of time. It’s a win-win and we are delighted to introduce Orion Edge V during this year’s virtual Seatrade Maritime Middle East.”
With a digitalised world now inevitable, the digital economy has grown two and a half times faster than global GDP over the past 15 years. It is now worth $11.5 trillion globally, equivalent to 15.5 per cent of the global GDP. The global digital transformation market is predicted to grow to $1,009.8 billion by 2025, and organisations in the Middle East and Africa are expected to spend $30 billion (Dh110.1bn) on digital transformation this year.
Mr. Ben Soussia commented, “For maritime and offshore businesses, digital connectivity represents the future, and we are pleased to announce that the future, particularly for forward-thinking countries such as the UAE, is available now!”