Inmarsat has announced the launch of a new Fleet Data Academy to assist vessel operators and technology partners in maximising the data gathering and analysis capabilities of shipboard systems, coinciding with the satellite operator reaching the milestone of its 10,000th Fleet Xpress ship installation.
The growth of the Ka-band satellite service has mirrored the rapid growth the company has seen in vessel satellite traffic, with Inmarsat reporting average daily download rates per vessel of around 8 GB as of December 2020, compared with less than 4 GB at the mid-year point of 2020.
“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,” said Ronald Spithout, President, Inmarsat Maritime.
“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.”
The installation landmark was reached during the same month as Inmarsat’s most powerful satellite to date entered service, with GX5 adding a capacity boost for maritime customers of Fleet Xpress in Europe and the Middle East. The new satellite delivers approximately double the combined capacity of the entire existing GX fleet (GX1-GX4).
Inmarsat’s technology roadmap sees a further seven satellite launches planned over the next four years, with two in highly elliptical orbit to deliver Arctic mobile broadband services for the first time.
“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,” adds Mr 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.”
“We continue to help innovators, through our support for the Rainmaking and Bluetech start-up initiatives, by establishing this ‘Fleet Data Academy’ for our CAP partners, and also through the recent Open Innovation Challenge for start-ups ran in conjunction with Shell Shipping and Maritime and Thetius.”
In the last case, Fleet Xpress is providing the connectivity to support proof of concept trials of the winning entry – Canary Sentinel-Workrest – on a working tanker in the next few weeks.