A very Happy New Year to everyone. I’m sure we all share the same wish for 2021, which is a return to normality by getting the virus under control.
In my December column, I was extolling my admiration of the 33 Vendee Globe skippers who set off on the most gruelling sports event in the world, sailing single- handed around the world. As I write this, we have seen four of them retired primarily due to collisions with UFOs (Unidentified Floating Objects), and that is before reaching the Cape of Good Hope. Fortunately, all four skippers are safe, and will at least be spending Christmas with their families. I hope by the time you read this there are no more casualties.
This says a huge amount about the rubbish in our seas. Just the other day, a container ship reportedly lost well over 100 containers in one day! I would like to encourage us all to re-double our efforts to help get marine pollution under control in 2021.
As the start of the new year gets under way, we are already working on many yacht refits and new projects from our bases in Europe and the USA. In all these locations we regularly get asked the following question…
Is 4G unlimited data really unlimited?
Our answer is always, “Truly unlimited data plans do not exist without a caveat”. Every network has some small print in their Terms and Conditions explaining how they can change the data delivered. So, as we were the original pioneer of GSM services for yachts, and with our years of working with many Service Providers, I have decided to do my best to explain how data plans are designed.
Unlimited plans are designed by all the networks for personal users only. A personal user is an individual using a single smartphone. A commercial user is an entity such as an office with multiple people sharing a single connection. A superyacht is always a commercial user.
There is no such thing as a commercial unlimited data plan. The networks have built into their unlimited plans various protection policies to make sure that, when the limit of acceptable usage has been exceeded, the performance deteriorates.
Fair usage is one of the commonly used protection policies that caps the data used.
Whilst some networks put no restrictions on the amount of data used, so the plan appears to be truly unlimited, they will combine this with speed restrictions, and may decide to slow down your connection speed as part of their fair usage policy. This may happen whenever you use, what the network considers to be an unreasonable amount of data, or if your network suspects you are using the SIM for unauthorised commercial purposes.
This is also known as De-Prioritisation. You may find language that resembles:
Customers may experience reduced speeds at times of network congestion.
Translates to: If our network gets busy, we might slow you down
This means your carrier can slow down your data speeds in favour of either, other customers with higher-tiered plans than yours, or customers who have not used their allotted full-speed data.
4G Network Congestion is a random feature to be avoided
We are all familiar with road congestion, and most of us will have experienced a congested network and will have been frustrated by unusable data speeds. Unlike road traffic, it’s impossible to know when network congestion is going to take place. Typically, it will take place at the least expected and the most inconvenient time, such as when the yacht’s owner is wanting to send a crucial email, in the middle of a video conference, or when a goal is about to be scored.
This is not what owners or charter guests expect on a large yacht.
If you are being offered an Unlimited Plan do your due diligence and ask the questions I have outlined above. Also be sure that roaming is blocked otherwise you could have some very large bills. If you are told there are no limitations be suspicious and ask for the name of the service provider so you can check it our yourself.
If you are uncertain, it’s easy enough to search on-line for “is unlimited data actually unlimited?”. You will find a lot of references for personal data plans on UK and USA networks but no commercial plans. You can also contact the service operator and ask. Also note that none of the experienced and established 4G service providers in the yachting arena provide an unlimited data plan at a fixed price for yachts, as they know that quality cannot be guaranteed. There are others that have stopped them.
It’s important to provide the quality that your Owners and Guests expect
To meet the high standards and expectations of yacht owners and their guests, we recommend and only offer commercial/yachting grade data plans that have uninterrupted, unlimited data and bandwidth. Based on our experience over the last 25 years we long ago understood yachts needed a service with the unknowns removed.
Truly unlimited services cost a little more per GB but there is no waste. You never pay for what you don’t use, so in the end you pay less. You also get 24/7 support from our team in our Support Operations Centre together with an on-line portal showing you your data consumption. We also provide professional billing which is MOSS and credit card PCIDSS certified and approved against fraud. But most of all, you will be supported by a knowledgeable and passionate team who care about the quality of all the services we provide whether it is 4G, VSAT, TV or IT.
If you would like advice, tips and tricks as to how to get the most out of your 4G services and equipment, please ask.
In the last issue of the Islander, Tim Gorter also made the point about choosing the correct type of SIM card in his Cellular Speed article.
Meet the e3 Team – Elliott Cameron, Marine Electronics Engineer
Elliott was born and brought up in Glasgow, Scotland, and is one of a few Scots you’ll meet in the e3 team. Like many youngsters, he arrived in Mallorca at age 20 to spend a season working in the bars and clubs, and for Elliott his summer season had an unforeseen bonus – he met his lovely wife Charlotte.
Together, they decided to move back to Scotland to tie the knot and start a family and, in Elliott’s words “to establish a more serious career than serving sangria”.
After successfully completing an Electrical Training programme, Elliott qualified as an electrician in 2012. As the family grew, with the addition of a little boy and girl, the Mallorca climate was looking more and more attractive than the cooler climes of Glasgow, and they moved back to the island to join some of his wife’s family who were already living here.
Elliott did a variety of jobs to make ends meet when he first arrived back, and then found a position in the yachting industry where he could put his professional electrical skills to use. One of the first projects he was involved in took him off to Bremen in Germany to work on the new build of Dilbar – the world’s largest superyacht by volume.
In 2016 Elliott joined our team at e3, broadening his experience and dealing with all aspects of electronics onboard some of the biggest and most luxurious yachts in the world. A far cry from the docklands of Glasgow!
Whilst dealing mostly with TVRO and VSAT Elliott is also involved with IT installations and more recently AV installs.
“I thoroughly enjoy working with e3. As a company, they are always involved at the cutting edge of communications industry, most recently with the development of flat panel technology using Kymeta panels. There are no two days the same, and the team I work with are very supportive. I really enjoy the family atmosphere which is always present throughout the company.
In my spare time I love to watch my football team – Glasgow Rangers – and when I can, I try to squeeze in a game of golf! Although being a fulltime dad and husband, my golf game is not what it was! I wouldn’t have it any other way, though.”
For further info on e3 VSAT and SUPER DATA
+34 971 404 208