MR: What are the top three or four factors driving your offerings to the marine business today?
: Maritime customers across the board want increased bandwidth that will enable IP applications — from e-mailing to Web surfing
and data downloads. Commercial maritime companies are also focusing on ways to make their satellite communications at sea a "business enhancer" in order to make their ships "floating extensions" of the company's LAN or WAN. At the same time, we are also seeing a decisive move by ship management companies to cut operating costs and selecting communications solutions that they can both use as a business tool on board the vessel and a way to improve crew morale and welfare, while being able to more directly manage the daily use of the communications via our various online account management tools. This way, they are able to control satellite communication expenses and have better control of billing and invoicing aboard their vessels.
MR: What has your company done in the past six months to better serve the maritime market?
Norton: In March, Telenor Satellite Services launched
a new portfolio of broadband services at sea. This portfolio has three new categories of services including Custom Networks — which include our Sealink tailored-made, turn-key and fully-managed broadband services that can provide on board communications at speeds from 128 kbps up to 4 Mbps. These enable around-the-clock Internet applications, video, VPN, and Enterprise Resource Planning. Telenor's new portfolio also includes Dedicated Networks at sea uses off-the-shelf equipment to provide business class communications with throughput ranging from 32 kbps up to 512 kbps. These services are designed to meet the needs of a wide range of vessels — from ocean going transport and container vessels to trawlers and fishing fleets. Finally, Telenor launched a variety of Shared Access services that provide smaller vessels such as yachts and recreational vessels cost-efficient Internet access and IP-based services, including our recent partnership with Sea Tel for WaveCall equipment with Telenor service.
MR: What technologies/events will most dramatically affect your ability to grow the business in the marine sector?
Norton: Advances in technology has enabled higher throughput using smaller equipment and on board antennas. In the late 1990s, 2 Mbps of bandwidth required a large amount of deck space and an antenna that was probably close to 2 meters. Today, that size is less than half of that. Voice and data speeds for "on demand" service from such providers as Inmarsat have also advanced with technology. For example, In the late 1990's mariners could achieve 64 kbps using a very large Inmarsat B terminal. Today, the Fleet family of services gives sailors the same 64 kbps digital service using an antenna as small as 33 centimeters. (Telenor's Fleet F77 can now offer at sea users throughput at 128 kbps using an antenna that is approximately 77 centimeters in diameter.) The coming of maritime BGAN service in the next year or so will again increase speeds up to almost 500 kbps using lap top-sized equipment.