The solution will allow vessel operators to access high speed 4G, Fleet Xpress maritime VSAT Ka-band and continuous L-band connectivity within a single, fully managed hybrid package.
A deal struck earlier this year with subsea fibre and offshore LTE network operator, Tampnet, made it possible to implement the new service, aimed primarily at offshore support vessel operators. It leverages low-latency, high data speed communications available via a dedicated Access Point Name (APN) on the Tampnet North Sea LTE network and could be extended to other regions such as the Gulf of Mexico if successful. Fishing and ferry operators active in the area may also benefit from the new system.
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. Meanwhile, connectivity via FleetBroadband continues even outside the LTE coverage area.
Service transition between LTE and VSAT is fully automated, with routing depending on data needs and network conditions, while vessels only need to add two LTE antenna and a modem on deck to enable the upgrade, which can be rented or purchased.
The solution mitigates the risks of dual billing and those of connectivity drop-offs. Agreeing its own APN means the provider can guarantee customers access to LTE services enabled via Tampnet's 3k km subsea fibre network.
"Inmarsat provide services to large fleets of offshore vessels that fall in our LTE network footprint. The North Sea is a natural starting point, but we are also keen to explore how we can work with Inmarsat in other regions where Tampnet is present such as the Gulf of Mexico", according to Per Helge Svensson, CEO, Tampnet.
"Inmarsat Fleet LTE also comes without hidden costs and offers owners plan flexibility to support business demand from third parties. Owners can choose from various LTE plans up to 40 Mbps, upgrade and downgrade between packages without additional fees, and choose separated dedicated bandwidth plans for charterers,” said Eric Griffin, VP Offshore and Fishing, Inmarsat Maritime, before adding, "As a service provider also offering failsafe connectivity via L-band for reasons of maritime safety, guaranteeing resiliency and performance whether vessels are on station or moving to/from shore are first principles for Inmarsat."