Connectivity While Adrift

Isolation has been among the defining characteristics of maritime travel ever since man first crossed the oceans in primitive boats. Once you left shore, there was no way to reach those still on land until the journey was over.

Radio, of course, changed that, though it was not until the advent of satcom that true global connectivity became available. And today the progression of maritime communications continues with the introduction of seamless global roaming for data and voice communications at sea.

A truly seamless system would give each ship a direct phone number that would work anywhere in the world — meaning you could call, say, the rower of the Zeeman Ocean Challenge to say, "How are your arms feeling now?"


Telenor (whose Eik teleport station in Norway, which provides telecom services to the the North Sea, is pictured above) has just unveiled their product to reach a marketplace that is literally oceans-wide:

OceanRoam™ will provide vessels worldwide Internet and telephone connectivity around-the-clock using the ships’ assigned IP addresses and telephone numbers regardless of location. 
Telenor’s OceanRoam will offer “always-on” Internet access and IP-based service at a fixed monthly price.  The service will enable voice services and unlimited data transfer for ship’s business and crew communications and will feature a variety of committed information rate (CIR) service levels up to 128 kbps.  Additionally, OceanRoam will meet vessels’ communications requirements for bandwidth intensive applications, such as video conferencing and large data transfers, by providing a series of optional bandwidth on demand information rates of up to 1024 kbps.

(Note that the Director of Media and Public Relations is named, appropriately enough, Tom Surface.) 

We haven’t quite delved into the details of how OceanRoam differs from another Telenor product, WaveCall, but Alan Spicer runs a good blog on marine telecom that provides in-depth analysis of products and trends for those interested in following the maritime space (no pun intended) more closely. DigitalShip is also a good resource for tracking the convergence of IP, satcom, and other communications platforms in the maritime marketplace.