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How is Internet provided on Ships?

written by: Raunekk • edited by: KennethSleight • updated: 4/20/2009

Internet has become an integral part of each and every person's life style. On land, Internet is easily accessible. But what when a person is away from the land? Is it possible to get Internet access on board a ship when it is miles away from the shore? If yes, then how? Let's find out!

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    Why The Need of Internet on Ship?

    Maritime industry is growing by leaps and bounds. Never before has a need arises to overhaul the ship to shore radio communications system for voice and data exchange between ship and shore. The maritime industry, is a diverse and competitive sector where like any other industry, a faster and effective communication is the key for survival and success. Though maritime industry is a world where business fortunes can turn on a dime, it has lagged behind the shore based businesses in the adoption of advanced communication technology. We have taken a look at how satellite phones work on ships, now its time to take a look at the bigger cousin - the Internet.

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    Present scenario

    Although, it has started making slow progress towards increasing its communication system it still lags decades behind the land-based system. Now if we take from a commercial perspective, each sailing ship is in itself an independent business hub and thus it requires a faster, easier and cheaper mode of communication with its clients at shore or on other ships. It is such an irony that, though the maritime sector is responsible for 90% of the world trade, the communication infrastructure it possess is highly primitive.

    Just imagine that many of the seagoing vessels use a Communications System that operates on a narrow bandwidth with a maximum speed of 56 Kbps, whereas the minimum speed that the land-based business establishment uses is 1 Mbps. Presently voice communication on ship is provided with the help of an application called "Voice over IP" or VOIP which uses a narrow bandwidth over the Internet or an IP network. Though the calling rates from VOIP to VOIP might be less, the cost of calling from VOIP to shore is approximately $10 per minute,which is quite unexpected.

    Thus the maritime companies have come to a conclusion that for a profitable and cost-effective business a need for a communications infrastructure that is similar to the IP-based broadband network used on land is mandatory. Internet access on ship will not only facilitate the business but also help the crew members to stay in touch with their family members in a speedier and a cost-effective way.

    ship 2 shore  

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    How is internet provided on ship?

    E-mail is still an unheard thing for many seafarers mainly because of unaffordable Broadband IP connectivity. Presently the seafarers use to dial up connection which allows them to send only short text e-mails. This is quite useless, keeping in business, data transfer in mind, which involves voluminous e-mails with equally large attachments. Thus the need of the situation requires an Internet internet.jpg   infrastructure that is similar to the broader Internet services that are provided on land. This will not only help business and commerce, but also will keep the ship staff more happy, when they can chat with their loved ones at shore more economically. The latter is equally important because of the isolated conditions in which the sailors have to live away from their family and helps to reduce stress.

    Keeping these problems in mind, shipping community is taking steps to improve the communication system. Providing broadband Internet facilities to ships with the help of cables is obviously impossible. The only option that is feasible , is providing Internet through satellite. Many new satellites have a launch to facilitate this purpose, and to improve the Internet coverage area, keeping in mind the vast oceans. The old source of providing communication system to ships, Inmarsat system is now used with this newly launched internet ship   satellites, which utilizes applications such as VSAT(Very small aperture terminal ).

    More affordable services being provided by clubbing the land-based technology, and the satellite technology. The services utilizes Internet protocol virtual private networks ( IP VPN) which prevents the hackers and thus help the companies to protect their vital data. The system consists of a signal relaying device which resembles a radar, a satellite earth station, and satellite. This system allows an unlimited and seamless broadband connectivity with the speed up to 512K bps which enables voice calling, e-mail transferring, GPS system and also web browsing.

    internet on ship  

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    References

    Surfing the IP Broadband Highway Across Oceans by Titus Yong, Vice President and Head of SingTel Satellite.

    Image Credits:

    http://www.msc.navy.mil/sealift/2002/August/graphics/P1010091.jpg

    Surfing the IP Broadband Highway Across Oceans by Titus Yong, Vice President and Head of SingTel Satellite.

    http://www.marinetalk.com/images/05-08-30/internet.jpg

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