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IEC Telcom collaborates with PH carriers to digitize operations

  • IEC Telecom is working on tailored solutions to meet connectivity needs of Philippine ship owners as the COVID-19 pandemic drives industry digitalization
  • Ship owners are now looking to adopt IoT-based solutions to enable remote management of vessels and improve operational efficiency
  • IEC Telecoms’ OrionEdge V offers all vessel types a VSAT-like experience over a compact hardware, enabling videoconferencing, telemedicine, remote maintenance, IoT and other applications

Telecommunications service provider IEC Telecom is working closely with Philippine ship owners to design tailored solutions for their connectivity needs as digitalization becomes a priority amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In the post-COVID world, digitalization has suddenly seen its priority moved overnight from being a good-to-have to essential-to-operate,” IEC Telecom Group chief executive officer for Asia, Middle East & CIS Nabil Ben Soussia told PortCalls in an email. IEC Telecom is a global satellite communications provider for all vessel types.

To overcome the many movement restrictions brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, many ship owners are looking at adopting Internet of Things (IoT)-based solutions to enable them to remotely manage vessels and improve vessel operational efficiency, Soussia noted.

He noted that IoT solutions are particularly useful for vessels that are due for their annual inspection, as many classification societies have temporarily allowed remote surveys during the pandemic to ensure a vessel is not out of class and is allowed to operate.

Aside from this, other common applications on board a connected vessel are those for route optimization as well as engine diagnostics, where issues can be picked up and addressed immediately, significantly reducing downtime.

One thing holding back ship owners from taking advantage of benefits of becoming a digital ship, Soussia said, is the notion it is an expensive undertaking.

“Reliable, high speed network access is one [concern]—given the misconception that satellite communication adoption in the shipping market is costly and requires a high level of capital investment. This is simply not true,” he explained.

He noted that a cost-effective method can be as simple as optimizing the use of L band—the radio frequency used in various applications such as radars, global positioning systems (GPS), radio, telecommunications and aircraft surveillance—to enable VSAT (very-small-aperture terminal)-like experience over compact mobile satellite services terminals. This will allow access to services such as videoconferencing, telemedicine, and remote maintenance even for smaller crafts.

VSAT technology is used for two-way satellite communications for internet, data and telephony in environments such as on a moving ship at sea.

Such a service being offered is IEC Telecom’s OrionEdge V, which provides a VSAT-like experience over a compact hardware without the complicated and expensive logistics, including hiring of heavy lift cranes required for VSAT. Operating from a virtual platform, OrionEdge V enables videoconferencing, telemedicine, remote maintenance, IoT and more for all vessel types.

Soussia said the system is lightweight and easy to install and can be moved by just one engineer from one vessel to another within hours.

To support rising demand for connectivity on board vessels, Soussia said OrionEdge V includes a project-based subscription and flexible tariff plans, and communication credits can be shared across the fleet as opposed to being strictly allocated to one vessel.

Soussia said IEC Telecom undertakes an integrated approach to in-house design and engineering expertise to develop unique solutions to address customers’ needs. The company has local on-the-ground agents working closely with Philippine ship owners to design tailored solutions to meet their connectivity needs. – Roumina Pablo

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