A majority of seafarers have no internet access available to them on board: IAPH recognizes Montreal for providing free WiFi access in the port.
According to a 2013 research of SIRC (Seafarers accommodation on contemporary cargo ships) cited by ITF “very few seafarers have access to internet. 12% reported free and unlimited internet access. The majority(61%) reported that they have no internet access available to them on board at all. The remainder(27%) experience either time restriction or charges or some other kind of restricted access”.
However, a handful of ports are able to offer a free internet connection to seafarers. One of these is the Port of Montreal, which, thanks to this service, has won the International Association of Ports and Harbors’ (IAPH) bronze 2013 Port Communications Award. The prize recognizes a project that provides free Wi-Fi on Port of Montreal territory to seafarers whose ships are docked in port. The service allows mariners to connect more easily with family and friends back home.
The IAPH has presented its biennial awards at its 28th World Ports Conference held in Los Angeles from May 6 to 10. Gaétan Vigneault, the port’s director of information technology, accepted the award on behalf of the Montreal Port Authority and the team that implemented the project.
“Our secure and multifunctional Wi-Fi system covers the entire Port of Montreal territory,” Mr. Vigneault said. “Teamwork was behind its successful implementation, which required a multitude of technologies for infrastructure, Internet connectivity and communications itself, and security, log-in and firewall software.”
The Port of Montreal provides seafarers with a log-in identification and password so that they can connect to the Internet anywhere on port territory, from Cité du Havre to Contrecoeur.
The free Wi-Fi service allows seafarers to connect with their loved ones 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, via email, Skype and social media without having to leave their ship.
This is just a starting point, but the ITF Trust hopes that other ports can soon follow this example.