GTMaritime has issued a new guide entitled ‘The Maritime Communications – A look over the horizon guide’ that examines the different types of satellite systems and network configurations, regulatory requirements, commercial communications and crew connectivity, highlighting key considerations for future communications planning.
he guide is split into three sections, covering Basics of Marine Communications, The Connected Ship and Special Services. “The GTMaritime guide to maritime communications provides ship owners and operators with comprehensive insights into the full spectrum of connectivity and communications considerations at sea.” Mike McNally, Global Commercial Director at GTMaritime, said.
As the maritime industry continues to become increasingly connected, it is important to have a thorough understanding of satellite communications and the opportunities greater connectivity can bring to a range of operations at sea.
Mr. McNally added.
The guide offers perceptive commentary on the impact greater connectivity will have on the maritime sector, considering issues such as cybersecurity, performance monitoring and remote operations. It also looks at the role communications systems can play in online training for crew on-board and the advantages enhanced connectivity can have in areas such as telemedicine.
“Already we are seeing huge increases in the amount of data being transmitted between ship and shore. As technology continues to expand into new areas of ship systems, there is a need for greater connectivity and satellite bandwidth to ensure communications systems can cope with the volume of data being transmitted. A comprehensive understanding of ship to shore connectivity today and tomorrow is fundamental to planning for the future needs of our industry, and essential for meeting its aims on ship efficiency, safety and compliance.”, added McNally.
Providing an overview of the regulatory landscape concerning communications onboard, the guide refers to GMDSS four operational zones, which were established based on distance from shore and in range of different communication systems:
- Sea Area A1: the area within the radiotelephone coverage of at least one VHF coast station in which continuous DSC (Digital Selective Calling) alerting is available
- Sea Area A2: the area, excluding Sea Area A1, within the radiotelephone coverage of at least one MF coast station in which continuous DSC alerting is available
- Sea Area A3: the area, excluding Sea Areas A1 and A2, within the coverage of an approved satellite constellation in which continuous alerting is available; and
- Sea Area A4: an area outside sea areas A1, A2 and A3.
GTMaritime notes that there is a noticeable move by national and international regulators and regional bodies to take greater control of the activities and movements of vessels at sea. This has moved beyond a means of ensuring navigational safety and is now aimed at minimising the perceived environmental impact of shipping. The impact of some imminent regulation on efficiency and environmental measures may not seem to be directed at communication systems and networks, but if ships are obliged to slow down this will be the case.
Assuming global trade remains at current levels or increases, more ships will be needed to transport the same volumes of cargo. This will increase the base load from shipping on the communications network which will need to be met by communication service providers.