Marine link

Mackay Communications Helps Companios Embrace Safety and Digital Technology

Communicating in emergency situations has always been a key requirement for shipboard communications equipment. With the imple- mentation of the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS), equipment relia- bility during emergencies at sea is still the most critical requirement. However, business applications are surprassing distress signals as the primary function of vessel communications systems.

Advancements in satellite technology and Inmarsat's introduction of low cost digital service are transforming ships into "floating offices." Today, an "emergency communication" is more likely to be an urgent business data exchange.

For Mackay Communications, supporting the technology and service demands of the floating office presents the perfect niche — an outsource vendor with a comprehensive worldwide solution including communications systems, navigation equipment, global service capability and satellite air-time services. The company's strategy is to fulfill customer-specific equipment, communications, maintenance and administrative needs. With 80 years of experience in maritime communications, navigational systems and engine room monitoring equipment, Mackay is positioned to meet these needs.

Keeping safety at sea and customer compliance with GMDSS requirements in mind, Mackay offers a broad range of communications products. Included in this offering is the MRU-2000 product family that complies with GMDSS requirements for worldwide coverage. Mackay also provides the necessary government compliance documentation and licensing procurement services for the specific country under which ships are flagged. These services help vessels attain international standards and provide them with proficient communications systems.

Expanding communications demands fostered by the floating office and new digital satellite services have driven the development of new satellite terminals. Mackay, as the exclusive U.S. distributor of Nera satellite equipment, offers what the company claims is the world's most reliable satellite equipment. The offering includes a complete product line of satellite terminals including the only maritime terminal with duplex High Speed Data (HSD) capability.

To complete the communications link from ships to home offices, Mackay offers global satellite airtime. The addition of air-time to the company's current offering of traffic accounting services consolidates satellite billing tasks by tracking all satellite transmissions (Inmarsat A,B,M,C and AMSC calls). Shipping companies can facilitate their information more efficiently with Mackay supplying accurate billing information and detailed cost analysis. Offering the complete satellite communications solution enables Mackay to ease customers transitions when upgrading from analog to digital technology.

Mackay President and COO Francis Neary is aggressively positioning the company to be at the forefront of marine communications at the start of the 21st century.

Mr. Neary's philosophy is simple: "I believe that the successful supplier will know how to mesh all its customers' needs into a turnkey offering that includes hardware, software, air-time, billing and maintenance services available worldwide." Because the demand for reliable communications and instrumentation equipment has become more important to commercial shipping companies, the need to keep it functioning is vital. In order to sustain equipment in the rugged maritime environment, Mackay backs up its communications and navigation systems by a comprehensive U.S.-based service organization.

Several levels of maintenance plans provide customers with a well-trained maintenance and support staff. This service is designed to minimize downtime and maximize safety. In order to reduce the amount of time and cost associated with out-of-service ships, Mackay coordinates its service schedule so that its allocation of time does not delay any scheduled departures.

In its ability to meet customer needs at multiple levels, Mackay delivers global support for floating offices. As the maritime industry seeks providers who can deliver to their outsourcing needs, Mackay will aggressively provide the complete communications and service solutions required to keep these floating offices working efficiently and cost effectively. Mackay has charted its course to support customers who must adapt to remain competitive in the worldwide shipping market.

The History of Mackay Communications Mackay Communications' role in the development of maritime communications began with a need to lower transatlantic cable communication prices. In 1884, John Mackay and James Bennett, owner of The New York Herald, established the Commercial Cable Company and constructed two transatlantic cables with a rate of 50 cents per word compared to the high, current five dollars per word. Mr. Mackay then decided to enter the land-line telegraph business and beginning in 1885 he created the second largest (next to Western Union) telegraph company in the world, Postal Telegraph Company. The experimentation in radio at the turn of the century eventually led to the ability to communicate with ships at sea through coastal base stations. World War I proved radio as a reliable communications device, and it became a less expensive and more accepted form of communicating. John Mackay's son Clarence realized that radio would flourish and in 1927, he purchased a Long Island station that could communicate with Europe and ships at sea.

By 1928 Clarence Mackay had acquired other radio companies and created a holding company called the American Cable and Radio Company. At the same time, Clarence sold half of the interests to International Telephone and Telegraph Corporation (ITT). ITT acquired the remaining half in 1963, and separated the marine communications operations into a subsidiary called ITT Mackay Marine.

After ITT divested its telecommunications operations in the 1980s, the Mackay operations were sold to a group of private investors in 1987. Today, Mackay Communications operates from its headquarters in Raleigh, N.C., providing comprehensive communications systems, navigational and engine room equipment, and satellite air-time services to the maritime industry.

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