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IDB's Klein Touts Cost Effectiveness, Improved Service As Benefits Of IDB/ AMSC Agreement

As shipowners increasingly eye their bottom lines, IDB Mobile Communications, Inc. president Jon Klein heralds his company and its recent moves as a significant step in helping to improve shipboard communications quality while simultaneously driving down prices.

IDB Mobile, as reported in the May 1993 issue of Maritime Reporter, signed a Value Added Service Provider agreement with American Mobile Satellite Corp. (AMSC), whereby IDB will provide up to 10 million minutes of enhanced voice and data communications services to maritime markets utilizing AMSC's mobile satellite service. According to Mr. Klein, the bottomline meaning of the agreement is that users will have more flexibility, as he says the voice-oriented AMSC can be seen as an alternative to Inmarsat. While AMSC has limited range (see chart of AMSC Projected Service Map), "the AMSC footprint is extensive and within it users can enjoy dramatically lower costs of equipment and services," Mr. Klein added. "If you look at the AMSC footprint, you realize that a lot of ships never leave that area." To illustrate his point, Mr. Klein said t h a t maritime customers transiting the AMSC service area will be able to make calls for between $2 and $3.50 per minute, compared to the higher prices currently available through other services.

Per call cost is not the only area in which customers can save. According to Mr. Klein, the cost of an Inmarsat M terminal is $24,000, where the cost for an AMSC terminal will range between $3,000 and $4,000. "I'm trying to make sure that our customers and your readers know that there is going to be another service," said Mr. Klein. AMSC service is scheduled to begin in the second half of 1994.

Neither Inmarsat M nor the AMSC service, both voice-oriented services, are designed to replace Inmarsat A, but rather to supplement it. Mr. Klein envisions AMSC service as a complimentary system to larger vessels, so they can enjoy less expensive voice communications in the AMSC service zone. IDB also a n t i c i p a t e s offering automatic switching so that ships using voice communication in the AMSC footprint are automatically switched to the less expensive service. But the big market potential perhaps lies in the smaller vessels.

According to Mr. Klein, there are more than 50,000 35-foot plus fishing boats and more t h a n 30,000 30- foot plus yachts which are potential users of the service. "The market for yachts and fishing vessels is incredible...AMSC will expand the base of mobile maritime communication tremendously," said Mr.

Klein. As for signal quality, Mr. Klein admits there is little difference between the AMSC and Inmarsat M service (which IDB also markets). Where the difference lies is in the actual satellite: The immense powerful MSAT satellite to be used for the AMSC service allows the size of the terminals and the antenna ("the size of a serving plate" said Mr. Klein) to be much more compact, thus more accessible to a variety of users. IDB Mobile markets maritime and land mobile satellite communications services to users including commercial shipping fleets, fishing vessels, pleasure cruises, oil rigs and tankers and remote land operations. For more information on IDB Mobile.




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