A revolution is underway that is fundamentally altering how navigators and deck officers navigate and captains manage their vessels. The mandated use of Electronic Chart and Display Information Systems (ECDIS) moves the bridge beyond the time-honored process of paper charts and pencils to a digital era of navigation, route planning, increased safety, and improved vessel performance.
Through ECDIS, ships officers and fleet managers will gain easy access to:
– Interactive electronic charting
– Improvements in vessel safety and efficiency
– Reductions in operational costs through effective route planning and lower fuel consumption
At the same time, the demand for ECDIS data and regular updates is dramatically increasing the bandwidth demands on the bridge of your vessels due to the need for regular chart updates as well as ongoing and refresher ECDIS training.
A global, affordable SATCOM solution is key to meeting those needs, optimizing the effectiveness of an onboard ECDIS system, and maximizing the investment in the equipment. Thats why competitive fleet operators are choosing a KVH turnkey mini-VSAT Broadband SATCOM solution integrated with the CommBox Ship/Shore Network Manager to ensure that they have the fast, affordable, reliable, and efficient data connections required to make ECDIS a reality. KVHs end-to-end commercial system equips each vessel with a powerful, cost-effective communications suite perfect for ECDIS, ship operations, and crew morale thanks to:
– The global mini-VSAT Broadband network with downloads as fast as 2 Mbps, high quality connections, and low latency
– The commercial-grade 24 (60 cm) TracPhone® V7 or 14.5 (37 cm)
– TracPhone V3 antennas
– The CommBox Ship/Shore Network Manager with QuickFile data transfers
The Costs Of ECDIS Compliance
In a nutshell, the International Maritime Organizations ECDIS regulations require commercial vessels as well as passenger vessels over 500 gt to carry at least one ECDIS system on the bridge with a staggered rollout between 2011 through 2018. Many options exist for the ECDIS technology itself as well as for navigator and deck officer training. Fleet operators are already taking into account the costs for this hardware, electronic navigation chart (ENC) service subscriptions, and the training programs needed for crews. However, it is critical that vessel owners and fleet managers also recognize the additional, recurring cost to connect their vessels to the required updates. Where charts used to be provided on paper or as computer disks when the vessel reached port, the reality of ECDIS makes real-time updates a must. This means that vessels need to be equipped with a broadband system, which, in the world of global shipping, means a SATCOM system. Along with the simple hardware cost for a SATCOM system is the cost for the airtime itself and when youre talking about weekly updates to ECDIS charts, that cost can rapidly explode.
Currently, the most widely fielded SATCOM service at sea is provided by Inmarsat. However, the old L-band technology upon which Inmarsat relies is prohibitively expensive. While costs will vary based on negotiated pricing, sending or receiving a single megabyte (MB) of data using Inmarsats FleetBroadband service typically costs between $10 and $13. According to ENC provider ChartCo, a typical weekly ECDIS update involves downloading a file approximately 3.2 MB in size. Using FleetBroadband, that would cost a single vessel $32 per week or $1,664 per year. Spread that over a fleet of 50 vessels and the fleet manager is facing an $83,200 annual bill for ECDIS updates alone without including the other day-to-day shipboard operations, crew calling, Internet access, etc., that these systems also support.
Using a traditional VSAT system may save some money in the airtime costs, but youre faced with dramatically higher hardware and installation costs coupled with systems cobbled together with antennas, modems, and services from completely unrelated providers. The result is a potential service and support nightmare. If youre planning to invest in a SATCOM system to provide access to regular ECDIS updates, perhaps its time to consider an alternative, one that will provide an end-to-end solution with dramatic savings for ECDIS compliance as well as a range of other applications and functions.
Nexgen, Affordable Maritime SATCOM
After more than three years of uninterrupted operation, the mini-VSAT Broadband network is the worlds fastest growing maritime broadband service thanks to rugged, fully stabilized antenna technology from KVH Industries, powerful Ku-band satellites, ViaSats ArcLight® spread spectrum mobile broadband technology, and end-to-end service and support. A managed airtime network solution, mini- VSAT Broadband equips commercial vessels with Voice over IP (VoIP) telephone lines with optimized service and prioritization of applications, as well as the highest data rates available today with speeds as fast as 2 Mbps shore-to-ship and 512 Kbps ship-to-shore.
Hundreds of vessels are online simultaneously around the globe, including ships of the U.S. Navy, Vroon, Nordic Tankers, Mowinckel Ship Management, and the U.S. Coast Guard. The TracPhone antennas are also significantly more affordable, considerably easier to transport and install onboard a vessel, and remarkably easy to position for clear line of sight to the mini-VSAT Broadband satellites. The mini-VSAT Broadband service and KVHs TracPhone V7 and TracPhone V3 maritime terminals are fully approved by the FCC and meet the strict regulations of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).
Adding Capabilities + Reducing Costs
KVHs CommBox Ship/Shore Network Manager integrates seamlessly with the TracPhone V7, TracPhone V3, and mini-VSAT Broadband. The combination of these systems is a fast, affordable, and versatile broadband pipe supporting Internet and voice services while simultaneously equipping customers with an array of business-critical, value-added capabilities:
– Web compression and acceleration to get the most out of the fleets data use while allowing fleet IT managers to control or prevent access to applications that might use more bandwidth than they find acceptable
– Easy ship-to-shore and shore-to-ship file transfers, including file compression and synchronization among files and folders so only changed items are transferred
– Management software that provides shorebased remote access to monitor communication activity on a fleets vessels at all times, along with IP routing for remote operations, and diagnostics of the vessel network from fleet headquarters
– Configurable firewalls and encryption for data and network security
– Automatic least cost routing between mini- VSAT Broadband and other services, with configurable rules that determine when to switch, as well as the activities that are available with each service
– Crew e-mail tools that give each crewmember a dedicated roaming e-mail account for use on any vessel in the fleet, as well as on shore.
From the perspective of a fleet manager considering a cost-effective SATCOM connection for ECDIS, the most important element of the CommBox system is the powerful QuickFile application, which makes the most efficient use of a fleets data connection through:
– Optimal compression algorithms, used on a per-file basis
– Reduction in the amount of data sent and the time the file transfers require
– One-to-many transfers for the convenience of transferring data or a document from the office to every vessel in the fleet
– Synchronization of files and folders using the highly efficient differential synchronization (DiffSync) function, which further reduces the amount of data transferred over the links by limiting transfer to only the data that has changed since the last synchronization
– Unlimited number of transfer jobs, for all vessels
– Complete visibility thanks to transaction logs for each vessel
– Advanced scripting features
– Support for multiple fetch/delivery protocols like FTP, CIFS, NAS, and email
The average compression results presented in the figure in the previous column illustrate QuickFiles compression capabilities even before taking advantage of the DiffSync capability. With DiffSync you will have cost savings and data reduction that will be in the 99 range.
The combination of mini-VSAT Broadbands low airtime costs and the capabilities of CommBox open a tremendous array of benefits beyond affordable ECDIS updates. By equipping vessels within a fleet with the mini-VSAT Broadband/CommBox solution, you gain easy, affordable access to a broadband connection that supports:
– 24/7 real-time engineering, fuel, performance, and system monitoring
– Access to tech manuals
– Ongoing/refresher training for ECDIS and other functions
– Access to real-time weather services
– Pre-paid crew calling as well as e-mail and Internet access
– GSM cell phone connections via the mini- VSAT Broadband network, and more.
Moving from L-band to the next-generation mini-VSAT Broadband SATCOM system adds a new level of versatility to shipboard communications and dramatically reduces the costs for complying with ECDIS update requirements whether for one vessel or a fleet. Mandatory ECDIS is coming to the commercial maritime industry and with it comes a dramatic increase in data and bandwidth requirements. Vessels need affordable and fast solutions for convenient global compliance and KVHs TracPhone V-series, mini-VSAT Broadband service, and CommBox Ship/Shore Network Manager with QuickFile are a perfect solution.