According to a new communications analysis, data usage on commercial maritime ships has increased more than threefold since 2019. This highlights the shipping industry’s reliance on digital connectivity to improve operating efficiency and protect crew welfare during a time of unprecedented disruption to seaborne trade.
As commercial shipping recovers from the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to an internal study conducted by Inmarsat, the market leader in global, mobile satellite communications services, which connects more vessels than any other provider, maritime demand has continued to rise. Inmarsat maritime customers’ data usage increased by almost 70% in the 12 months leading up to mid-2022.
According to an analysis of data usage by top vessel operators, the demand for data increased year over year, more than doubling (108%) in June 2022 compared to June 2021 for container shipping companies, while connectivity use increased by 70% for oil tanker operators and by 47% for bulk carriers during the same time period.
Ben Palmer, President of Inmarsat Maritime, said: “Maritime data usage is a leading indicator of economic activity and international trade in the shipping industry, which carries 90% of all global trade. More and more shipping companies are upgrading their satellite communications services and adopting new technologies for applications including route-planning, ship-to-shore broadband data transfers and to maximise fuel efficiency. They are also ensuring that their crews remain connected with family and friends while at sea, the mandatory requirement now recognised by the Maritime Labour Convention. Our study shows data usage is on the rise among all commercial vessel types.
“The success we’re seeing in our order book is due to our understanding of the commercial maritime industry, the maritime data usage, and the needs of ship owners and operators. This appreciation led directly to the development of our unique service proposition for shipping companies, which uniquely combines two wholly-owned and operated global networks in our market leading Fleet Xpress service. Our strategy is to continue to innovate at pace, supporting the rapid digitalisation the industry is experiencing, which in turn is being driven by industry-wide targets for decarbonisation and the imperative of ensuring crew welfare.”
The company’s Fleet Xpress satellite communications systems and maritime data usage are seeing record-high order volumes, which coincides with Inmarsat’s study on marine data usage. With over 1,000 ships on order, the Fleet Xpress installed base increased by 17% in the second quarter of 2022 compared to the same period in 2021, reaching approximately 13,000 ships.
Technical proof of concept tests for the terrestrial 5G mesh portion of Inmarsat’s new ORCHESTRA network were finished earlier this year. One of the busiest cargo ports in the world, Singapore, hosted the tests. Using a special, shore-based terrestrial network, ORCHESTRA offers cutting-edge spectrum-management and connectivity technology to supply more data capacity in important shipping hot spots. In order to provide the lowest average latency and fastest average speeds with the most exceptional resilience of any planned global service, the 5G mesh network has the potential to seamlessly integrate with Inmarsat’s geostationary satellite constellations and a highly targeted low earth orbit (LEO) fleet.
“As data demand for maritime data usage continues to grow in the shipping industry, our ORCHESTRA testing in Singapore has shown in real-world cases how to enhance ship-to-shore and ship-to-ship connectivity, including distances, range, throughput and link availability,” continued Palmer. “We are innovating with this technology because connectivity demand in key ports and shipping lanes is only going to increase further and lead to growing congestion.”
The maritime data usage consumption and maritime order statistics align with ongoing Inmarsat strategy for its merger with US-based Viasat, which also caters to a variety of maritime customers. After the transaction is complete, the larger company will increase customer choice in business-to-business satellite communications for maritime, aviation, government, and enterprise users. It will do this by offering a solid, multi-layered, global architecture and, uniquely in the space industry, the capability to combine multiple orbital satellite and terrestrial 4G and 5G assets.
Sinnatt , J. (2022, August 31). Inmarsat study reveals surge in maritime data usage as shipping industry seeks increased connectivity. Inmarsat Corporate Website. Retrieved September 6, 2022, from https://www.inmarsat.com/en/news/latest-news/maritime/2022/maritime-data-usage-surge-increased-connectivity-study.html