2012 Jan 21

Reederei Thomas Schulte to install Crew Wi-Fi on 40 ships

Globecomm, via its Telaurus subsidiary, has secured a contract from German shipowner Reederei Thomas Schulte to install its Crew Wi-Fi service on 40 ships in the Schulte fleet.

The contract will see Globecomm install wireless data communications systems on ships managed by Schulte’s in-house technical manager Ocean Shipmanagement.

The company had previously provided its conventional crew e-mail service to Thomas Schulte on five ships through a third party provider.

Globecomm launched its Crew Wi-Fi service in 2011 as a way of providing e-mail and SMS access to crews via their own personal laptops and smartphones.

In summer 2011 a trial of the Crew Wi-Fi system was held on three Thomas Schulte ships. Following the completion of the trial – during which over 500 messages and voice calls were exchanged per ship per month – Ocean Shipmanagement decided to outfit all its managed fleet with the Wi-Fi solution.

Iridium OpenPort will provide the satellite link for the crew calling service, with two hardwired phone lines in the crew and officers' mess and one commercial wireless phone for the master to allow him to remain in contact whether he is on the bridge or in the ship’s office.

The installations will route bandwidth from the Iridium OpenPort terminal to the Globecomm [email protected] terminal and broadcast a signal via wireless repeaters to the crew and officer mess rooms.

The wireless access point allows for the connection of multiple computers without the need to run extra cable. With the use of an extendable antenna unit the connections can bridge multiple decks and compartments without sacrificing bulkhead (watertight) integrity.

"We selected the Globecomm system for several key reasons," said Jan Paninka of Ocean Shipmanagement.

"The first is that this is a low cost option, with pre-paid SMS and internet access for e-mail services, which means the crew can use their own equipment to keep in touch with home."

"From a business perspective, this solution keeps the crew data and hardware separate from the bridge communications equipment so it is very easy for the master and crew manager to account for actual usage."

Globecomm says it is currently in the process of rolling out more than 100 Crew Wi-Fi installations to German-controlled vessels.

It claims that crew e-mails typically cost no more than $0.08 per message using the system, so $10 can give a crew member 125 emails (message cc's are free).

Additionally, the company says that crews "are not charged Inmarsat minimum volumes and increments", to keep costs down.

Crews can set up and top up their own accounts using their own credit cards, to avoid the need for administration of crew communications on the office side.


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