Inmarsat’s Crew Xpress to enhance crew connectivity
A fully-managed crew Wi-Fi portal is the key component in Crew Xpress the new service package powered by Fleet Xpress that incentivises ship owners and operators to enhance connectivity for crew.
The new service package includes a managed Wi-Fi solution ‘Fleet Hotspot’, a leased antenna, a business use data package, automated billing and a usage revenue recovery scheme to incentivise ship managers to invest in crew connectivity.
“We have seen migration by a significant part of our customer base to our full high-speed Fleet Xpress service, but we also recognise crew wellbeing as a separate connectivity imperative,” said Ronald Spithout, President, Inmarsat Maritime. “There is a group of owners and managers who seek fully-managed Wi-Fi connectivity that crew can use on a self-service basis, but whose business data needs do not yet extend to the sensor-driven equipment maintenance or IoT-based route planning enabled by Ka-band. Crew Xpress allows those managers to start offering a managed, high-speed crew internet solution, while staying on an allowance plan, with the ability to migrate at any time to the full Fleet Xpress package.
The Crew Xpress package consists of a 60cm Fleet Xpress antenna and a 6GB business allowance plan with an antenna offered on lease terms, with separate, managed crew internet access through the ‘Fleet Hotspot’. Accessing the internet via a unique login, the ‘Fleet Hotspot’ user secures time or data with allocated vouchers or by making online payments via a range of different methods.
A number of Asian shipping companies have been trialling the new Crew Xpress service on board vessels since January 2019. Full commercial launch of the service is due in April with a wholesale version available the second half of this year.
The Crew Xpress ‘Fleet Hotspot’ portal is an evolution of a service first developed by Inmarsat’s aviation business unit for pilots and cabin crew. Inmarsat has already recognised that ship crews are likely to need greater variety in payment methods than their airborne counterparts and is concluding arrangements with a range of electronic payment services. Spithout also points out that the ‘Fleet Hotspot’ model could be equally useful for passenger vessels and superyachts, or for the contractors on board offshore support vessels, as it will be in the merchant maritime space.