Ship owners and managers have been urged by the head of a major maritime communications company to act on the findings of Nautilus International's crew connectivity survey.
Speaking at the International Shipowning and Shipmanagement Summit on the opening day of London International Shipping Week, Globecomm Maritime president Malcolm McMaster questioned whether the shipping industry is ready for the 'big data revolution' when more than 70% of the world fleet is still using L-Band.
Strong competition and technological advances mean that the cost of good shipboard connectivity are falling dramatically, he said. 'Is 1% to 2% of operating expenditure too big a price to pay?'
Mr McMaster said companies should pay heed to Nautilus International's research into the problems faced by seafarers in getting good internet access.
The crew are going to be the real drivers of big data. They are all wired up to social media and things like fitness apps and are going to demand the same sort of access at sea as they get ashore. Malcolm McMaster, Globecomm Maritime president
It is difficult to provide evidence to show the return on investment from improved crew connectivity, he admitted, but the Union's survey had shown that around one-third of seafarers would change to employers who offered better shipboard communications, and 'it is only when employers and managers start to feel the pain of losing crew that they will begin to see the return on investment case'.
Mark Woodhead, senior vice-president with KVH Industries, said there was evidence to show the benefits of providing good onboard communications. One company had half of its fleet with VSAT and seafarers were far more willing to sign up to serve longer contracts on these ships, he added.