Broadband/Connectivity Opinion Tech Features

Maritime and Offshore Connectivity

Mireille Abdo, Sales and Business Development Manager - Maritime & Offshore at SpeedCast speaks about how the solutions provider is connecting offshore oil rigs and maritime vessels across the MENA

I handle the maritime offshore part of the business in the Middle East and Africa, and have been with Speedcast for about four years but in the industry for more than ten years. I have quite a good extent of customer contacts here in the region and provide satellite communications in the region. We are a large global satellite communications provider, we provide communications for three verticals – maritime, energy and enterprise in emerging markets. My portion of the business as well is the maritime and offshore markets.

The latest big project that we have done is with one of the large offshore companies in Abu Dhabi called Gulf Marine Services (GMS). They are pioneer with providing offshore barges to oil fields and we have just finished the VSAT installation on the twelfth barge providing them with unlimited communications and high bandwidth requirements. Last month we were just awarded their L-band backup communication as well with FleetBroadband.

We also received some very good leads at Seatrade Middle East and signed a few contracts too. It was certainly a good show for us.

Regarding the African market, It is quite strong with maritime and energy – both onshore and offshore. They have a lot of requirements there. We cover a lot of the business via our Middle East office and our UK office. The onshore is done by the UK office, while the offshore is handled by the Middle East office. It’s a little bit tricky with regards to what kind of communications versus the cost considerations especially now with the current situations with the oil prices. All the customers want to save cost, so they lower a little bit but with West Africa for example, because of the weather and the rain, you have a bit of rain fade Ku-band. It’s probably better to have C band for different kinds of communications, which are slightly more expensive. It’s a little bit of both and you have to take in consideration the customer requirements versus their budget for communications.

Costing is different for Africa, it’s not the owners but the operators that approach us for the satellite communications because the operators are the ones that consider communications as business critical. They really want high-end communications and so when you are contacted by the operators, it’s less of a cost issue, more of quality. They want a high quality communications solution. Whereas if you are contacted by the owners they usually want a VSAT on board or want a form of satellite communication on board but they don’t know yet what it is that is required by the operator.

Speedcast, a couple of years ago, acquired Hermes Datacomms. Usually with Speedcast every company acquired, as soon as the integration happens, the name is changed and then the acquired company starts operating under the Speedcast name. However, with Hermes, they had running contracts that couldn’t be shifted with the Speedcast name change, so they had to keep operating under the Hermes name for a certain period of time. As of now, the company has started with the process of name change.

It’s announced that Speedcast and Harris CapRock have signed a definitive agreement for the acquisition by Speedcast of Harris CapRock for a certain amount of cash. The agreement is definitive but the acquisition is pending regulatory approvals from the US and Australia, Speedcast being an Australian company. That is expected to finalise by early 2017 and as soon as it is done we will start with the integration process.