Inmarsat has completed its 10,000th Fleet Express ship installation and at the same time has launched a new ‘Fleet Data Academy’ with existing partners, ship-owners and operators. The academy will support the full understanding and adoption of the rapidly growing range of digital applications that are making the maritime industry safer, greener and more efficient.
Fleet Xpress clients now include MOL, K-Line and Hapag-Lloyd, Bourbon, Tidewater and Maersk Supply, as well as growing numbers of yachts, passenger ships and fishing boats. Strong customer growth has seen Inmarsat report average daily download rates per vessel of around 8GB as of December 2020. This compares to less than 4 GB at the mid-year point of 2020.
Ronald Spithout, President, Inmarsat Maritime commented: “The Fleet Xpress service with unlimited back-up continues to provide shipping’s gold standard for seamless, mobile broadband. We are now entering a ‘Fleet Xpress 2.0’ era as it moves way beyond a connectivity pipe, and becomes a true digital platform with our Fleet Data service now integrated as part of Fleet Xpress with the basic level of Fleet Data free of charge. This makes access to an ecosystem of applications and value-added services available on demand.”
“With 10,000 vessels worldwide now depending on Fleet Xpress 24/7, this is a moment to express our thanks to our end-users and our technology, installation, manufacturing and channel partners, and to reflect on 2020 as the tipping point for maritime digitalisation. That is why we have launched our new ‘Fleet Data Academy’ in order to work together with partners and end-users to realise the full benefits of digitalisation,” Spithout added.
Inmarsat will also launch a series of incentives over the coming weeks to celebrate the significant milestone.
The installation landmark was reached during the same month as Inmarsat’s most powerful satellite to date entered service, with GX5 joining the only globally available high-speed mobile broadband network delivered by a single operator. GX5 provides additional capability to maritime customers of Fleet Xpress in Europe and the Middle East and delivers approximately double the combined capacity of the entire existing GX fleet (GX1-GX4).
“COVID-19 has brought a major spike in data demand for crew connectivity and our Fleet Hotspot wi-fi solution has gained exceptional traction, but the arrival of Fleet Data as maritime’s first secure and scalable Internet of Things platform has also been pivotal,” said Spithout. “Using cloud-based data storage and interfacing easily with decision-making software, this has moved Fleet Xpress to a ‘2.0’ solution. This also delivers fully on the promise of smart shipping, fully-scalable for vessel operators, making maritime accessible for start-up application providers just as it is for established corporates.”
A ‘Digitalisation Uncovered’ survey of 370 shipowners commissioned by Inmarsat at the end of 2020 saw 71% of respondents citing cost reduction and operational efficiencies as a top-three driver for digitalisation, while compliance featured as a top-three concern for 60%. The move from Class Societies to support remote surveys, wider adoption of telemedicine and shipyards building in smart capability to new buildings are also transformative.
“Maritime digitalisation is now unstoppable,” continued Spithout. “The market is becoming mature enough to support its own digital ecosystem with separate bandwidth channels for the crew, applications and operations. Our recent experience in offering Fleet Data as integral to Fleet Xpress at no additional cost suggests that, once owners get a taste of what is on offer, they quickly recognise its value and the benefits of using our ecosystem of partners. In the coming months, we will continue this in partnership with our wholesale and retail partners.”