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Satellite Services Even More Important in the Post-Pandemic Shipping Era

With crew welfare and cyber security at the forefront of shipping’s operations, in the post-pandemic world, satellite services are becoming ever so important. Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide , discusses with Mr. Damian Staples, Vice President, Wholesale with Inmarsat about the company’s offerings and latest market trends.

Inmarsat has a long-lasting record of strong presence among Greek shipowners. How was this relationship forged and where is it moving today, in terms of new technologies?

Yes, the relationship with the Greek maritime community goes way back, almost 40 years now and it was forged on safety, an issue which has remained the core of our proposition to the market and the shipping industry until today and obviously is also critical in the Greek market. The other thing that makes us strong in Greece, are our local partnerships. We’ve worked consistently with a number of partners in this region, who themselves have maintained a very close relationship with ship owners. These partners are very loyal to Inmarsat and have worked very closely with us on our technology roadmap to make sure that we are considering the needs of the owners and the managers, in the way that we evolve ourselves in the future.

You mention loyalty. Do you see that many owners do infact stay loyal with one brand or partner throughout many years? If so, which are the reasons behind this?

It comes down to close collaboration and this is the reason that we are so focused to working with local partners in this region; because of how important those close relationships are to the owners. Having a close relationship with the people that they work with, who are based here, who understand how their business works, who are close to them in the way that they are evolving their business and their technology needs. So for us, based in the UK, it’s very important to work through those local resellers who are very close to the market and the local requirements, to help us understand how to evolve our services. I think it’s that integrated collaboration between the owners, their local partners and those partners with Inmarsat that’s helped us maintain and strengthen this partnership over the years.

How is technology evolution helping companies like Inmarsat advance their product and service offerings in the maritime market?

The key is increased bandwidth consumption and its importance to the evolution of the industry. Everywhere you look around Posidonia, the conferences are highlighting the importance of technological evolution of the entire maritime industry and most of what you see, depends on connectivity. Without it none of this works. So, as the industry grows and becomes more technologically advanced in a digital direction, the connectivity becomes more important, it needs to be reliable and secure and these are the things that have made Inmarsat very strong through the years and that’s why we continue to invest in our network to make sure that we provide a global, reliable and secure service to make sure that we meet the increasing bandwidth requirements of the industry.

Which is the main trend now, in terms of companies’ focus?

The climate element is key. How do you invest in advanced services that will make you more ecologically conscious, reduce your carbon footprint while also helping your company’s bottom line? This is particularly true for owners who are incentivized by banks, for other reasons, to reduce their environmental impact. Crew welfare is also an important theme, one that we’ve highlighted ourselves as well, in Inmarsat. As we’ve seen through the pandemic years, we need to make sure that we look after crew members, both from an entertainment perspective, but also from a health perspective, as they’ve been forced to remain on board the vessel for an increasing amount of time. All of these things can only be delivered by high bandwidth connectivity services and we’ve seen the consumption of our network increasing dramatically particularly over the pandemic and we don’t see that going backwards, it’s a one-way street.

In terms of bandwidth growth, which is the current situation? When should we see the next incremental step?

It’s hard to predict, as there are different phenomenons happening in parallel. On the one hand we’re seeing dramatic bandwidth growth, but on the other hand, as a result of that, we’re seeing a lot of innovation around how the bandwidth is being used, both in terms of more effective bandwidth management and also services that are more efficient in the way that they consume the bandwidth. So I think that those two things will sort of intercept at one point, but it’s hard to predict when will that arrive. For the moment the push is to continue to increase capacity which are doing through our growth roadmap over the next 12-18 months to ensure that we are responding the meeting the increasing demand. I don’t see it plateauing within that time period, but as a result of the increased network bandwidth and the fact that that’s not going to abate anytime soon, I think that we can expect that there will be more innovation in bandwidth efficiency and they way it’s been consumed over time. But we’re probably talking two or three years down the line for these applications coming through.
Nikos Roussanoglou, Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide

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