Using Connectivity at Sea to Gain a Competitive Advantage in the Commercial Maritime Industry

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In an already competitive and dynamic maritime environment, fleets need to pursue competitive advantages wherever possible. But where, exactly, does one look? Connectivity at sea — an area layered with opportunity for improved efficiencies in terms of increased control, higher productivity, and reduced risk — is one area in which fleets can gain a competitive edge at sea.

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Vessels and their operators face the emergence of crews drawn from digital natives accustomed to always being connected, new regulations that require real-time information and a truly connected ship, and a growing need for flexibility in how they operate.

There are more than 84,000 merchant ships operating worldwide with hundreds of thousands of other commercial and fishing vessels.(1)  For shipowners, operators and ship managers, the challenge is to create a competitive advantage, and when it comes to connectivity, it is all about the ecosystem.

At the heart of the connectivity ecosystem are Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) services, which disrupted the long-standing expectations of maritime satellite communications with smaller systems, faster speeds, and more affordable data. Industry forecasts report that the number of VSAT systems for global maritime will grow quickly from 26,100 units in 2018 to 65,400 in 2028, a 10% compound annual growth rate (CAGR). In comparison, growth of Mobile Satellite Services (MSS) is expected to decrease over that same period at -8% CAGR, mainly due to the migration of fleets from older, slower, and more expensive L-band satellite services.(2)

When planning to make the upgrade to VSAT or evaluating a replacement VSAT solution, what do you need to consider so your vessel is not simply connected, but connected smartly? Knowing where to look, and what to ask for, will enable you to identify the best SATCOM solution for your fleet.

What will make connectivity at sea a competitive driver for you?

Connectivity at sea is about moving data from ship to shore and vice versa, so any ecosystem has to have the right data tools at its core. For shipowners, this is a primary concern, and the ability to provide appropriate and necessary data flows are as much a part of modern vessel operations as bunkers and manning. In conversations with leading commercial fleet managers, operators, and owners, we’ve identified six critical considerations to support a fleet’s decision-making. These considerations are common to almost all successful maritime connectivity solutions.

  1. Satellite Coverage and Data Speeds
  2. Data Tools
  3. Cybersecurity
  4. Hardware Integration
  5. Crew Welfare
  6. Global Service and Support

Not all SATCOM solutions are equal and some may suit your business, operational, and crew needs better than others. A clear understanding of the industry trends and best practices for each of these areas is vital to ensuring that you are selecting the optimal solution and gaining the greatest benefits.

The new eBook, “Connectivity—Six Critical Considerations to Gain a Competitive Advantage,” offers insights from industry leaders into how to transform your connectivity at sea from a generic tool to a driver for competitive success.


1 Prospects for Maritime Satellite Communications, © Euroconsult 2019, p. 11

2 Prospects for Maritime Satellite Communications, © Euroconsult 2019, p. 24

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About Chris Watson 65 Articles
Chris is the Vice President of Marketing and Communications for KVH Industries. A lifelong sailor and storyteller, he's a self-professed geek who finds all of this technical stuff fascinating.