Romain Butet, maritime communications expert from MVG, explains what telecommunication breakthroughs mean for the maritime industry and what the future holds.
Just a few years ago, time at sea meant very limited communications with those back at home or work and if you did need to reach someone in most cases it was very expensive. With recent improvements and breakthroughs in land telecommunications, the progression has now, at long last, impacted on maritime communications.
Message in a bottle
It is hard to imagine how difficult the situation may have been in the old days when there were no radio signals. Once a ship had left port it was basically at the mercy of the sea. Many a vessel was lost and the only hope some voyagers had was to throw a bottle containing a message into the sea and hope that someone somewhere would read the message and come to save them. Thankfully we have come a long way since then.
Life before the discovery of EMC (electromagnetic fields) was very much reliant on face-to-face communications using either speech or hand signals. When ships needed to communicate at a distance it was through the use of visual signals using hand-held flags or paddles.
This was all very well in daylight, if you were within a certain distance, but left approximately 12 hours of the day in darkness when communication was very difficult.
In 1873 James Clerk Maxwell made a discovery that was set to change the face of communications going forward. His paper ‘A treatise on electricity and magnetism’ showed for the first time that the interactions of positive and negative charges were regulated by one force. EMC was born and he proved that sound waves could be converted into radio waves. In doing so, it was possible for ships to communicate across many miles to other vessels.
4G at Sea
These days we are used to being in touch. It is a likened to losing your right hand when you can not email, text or get on the Web. Thanks to modern day science and technology, computers use satellite triggered internet to communicate with ports using satellite phones and emails. Thanks to the cutting edge technology of the 21st century, maritime communications are now a very different story.
Looking at the marine industry’s commitment to deliver cost effective and super fast internet to sea vessels, Microwave Vision Group has launched a smart 4G offering. NeptuLink provides super-fast internet to those on board from ship to shore at a fraction of the cost.
Maritime communication systems require a serious input in design and innovation as they need to be robust enough to cope with the varying and often harsh weather conditions at sea, such as high winds, unstable environment and corrosive sea water.
For years going on a cruise provided the opportunity to cool one’s heels away from technology and the modern world, but today the expectation is to keep in touch.
A smarter world and more intelligent technologies are providing better internet connectivity at sea every day. So love it or hate it, the average traveller can now take to the sea, and whether on business or pleasure, new technology lets them stay connected to email and the internet.
Romain Butet is the maritime expert at MVG who provide NeptuLink, a 4G solution for the maritime industry.