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Home > Features > Technology Update with e3 systems
Cropped shot of an unidentifiable hacker cracking a computer code in the dark

Technology Update with e3 systems

Wouldn’t it be fantastic if you could use your smartphone anywhere in the world?  To do this your phone needs to connect directly to satellite rather than to land based towers. This would enable global cell phone connectivity at a much lower entry cost.  Is it possible?  Well, it is about to happen!

A new space-based cellular broadband network called SpaceMobile from AST & Science has just been announced. The lead investors are Rakuten and Vodafone.   They are creating a constellation of Low-Earth–Orbit (LEO) satellites that will connect directly to smartphones removing the need to use specialised satellite hardware or antennas.

Managing Guest Expectations by using the Relevant Communication Solutions

Last month I started my column, within my column, titled “Managing Guest Expectations by using the Relevant Communications”.  Last month I covered “Ensuring the guests have good connectivity.”

This month I am going to talk about how you can help ensure your owners, guests and crew are as safe as possible by using the correct communication solutions.

How to ensure that those on board the yacht, including owners, guests and crew, are safe.

SAFE with respect to marine communications can mean one of two things these days:

The classic meaning is SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea)

The second, the new one, is SODAS (Safety of Data at Sea), protecting your owner, guests and crew from cybercrime.

(Note: I have just made up the acronym SODAS!).

SOLAS – new GMDSS compliant equipment and flexible airtime solutions

So, for flag state GMDSS compliance you need to have the relevant communications equipment installed. I am assuming you are compliant.  However, if you are planning a new installation, upgrading/refitting an existing installation or widening your compliance area from A2 to A3 or to A4, then there are some new “kits” on the block that have become IMO approved.

Firstly, if you do use, and still have a legacy Inmarsat F77, it’s End of Life is December this year.  This means Inmarsat will no longer provide service for it and as such, you need to replace it.

For years Inmarsat satcom C has been the first choice but as of January 2020 the IMO has approved some new alternatives.  Inmarsat have had the GMDSS monopoly since 1999.  It has now ended and Iridium Certus, Inmarsat Fleet Broadband 500 and 250 plus the legacy Inmarsat satcom C are all certified for GMDSS.  Both the Iridium Certus and Fleet Broadband systems require add-on GMDSS units.  These will not be available for some months.

Inmarsat is limited to operate between latitudes 70ºN and 70ºS whereas Iridium covers the poles.  Iridium Certus is the better solution for Area 4 coverage and has a better maximum data download speed of 700kbps, for now. Inmarsat is building many new satellites and will provide full Fleet Xpress service in the Artic in a few years.

Many yachts are already fitted with Inmarsat Fleet Broadband so, with the addition of a panic button, the Fleet Broadband can be used for GMDSS instead of your sat C.  You could retire your satcom C and pay one less bill.

We also now have many new flexible airtime options so you can get more use out of your Fleet Broadband rather than have it just as a backup.

One serious cost saving point to consider if you are in the market for a new VSAT, is take a good look at Inmarsat Fleet Xpress VSAT.  Firstly, we highly recommend this reliable, easy to use VSAT service.  Secondly it works seamlessly with your Fleet Broadband and when you do there is NO CHARGE for unlimited use.  Also, if you also use the Fleet Broadband for GMDSS then you can retire your satcom C.  So, in summary, if you go for Fleet Xpress as your next VSAT your Fleet Broadband will be free and you can cut your satcom C contract.

SODAS – keeping your owners and guests safe from cyber intrusions whilst onboard

Yachts are attractive targets for cyber criminals.  People think they are safe on a yacht, as when it is not tied to the dock, they think they are insulated from everything ashore. That is not the case.

Last year Inmarsat asked the Superyacht Group to conduct a Connectivity Study and it returned a statistic that over 80% of yachts questioned showed a lack of awareness of the most effective measures to protect the yacht and therefore owners, guests and crew from cyber threats.

In simple terms there are 3 elements to on-board cyber protection.

The first is the actual communication connections, network and IT on-board. It is important to have an “IMO Ready” IT and network design and installation. After this has been installed penetration tests can be conducted to try and break into the system.

The second is to draw up a cyber policy for the yacht.  Procedures explaining what everyone can and can’t do.

The third is crew training.  You can install the most robust and secure IT system on-board, but it can take a hacker a mere 15 minutes to get in the front door if the policy and crew training are non-existent.

We can provide the first element and direct you to the appropriate experts to help with the last two.

 Meet Hamish Goddard, Sales Account Manager Spain

Hamish joined e3 Systems in late 2017 as an Account Manager in the sales team to cover the main ports of Mallorca and mainland Spain.

Although a relative newcomer to the island in 2015 from a career spent mostly in the UK, he arrived like so many other expats as a yacht skipper, converting a Barcelona-based private yacht into a licensed charter vessel operating in the Balearic Islands.

“I had sailed and raced from my earliest childhood. I then spent quite a bit of time in my early 20s sailing and travelling in the Mediterranean and the Caribbean, building enough miles and experience to gain my RYA Yacht Master Ocean and Cruising Instructor tickets.

“On arriving on Mallorca, where so much was happening beyond just sailing, I was keen to have a life primarily shore-based but related to the yachting industry, with time on the water being either recreational or through racing. Knowing my way around a boat is useful in my working capacity for e3 Systems.”

“Yacht communications has been a steep learning curve – incredibly challenging in the early days – but my knowledge deepens by the day and we have some fantastic brains and experience in the building from which I can draw whenever I need to. It works extremely well and in addition to sales, my role is just as much about developing the relationship and looking after the clients’ interests as their dedicated Account Manager.

“I think that my typical working day is actually hard to beat, spending time aboard some of the world’s finest yachts, getting to know skippers at the peak of the industry and helping them access the best options tailored to their specific communication requirements. To have the opportunity to do this whilst living in one of the world’s most desirable locations is extraordinarily satisfying.”

Based in London for 16 years, Hamish had enjoyed a career as an Account Director for a London-based sports marketing and sponsorship agency, embedded within some of the world’s most prestigious events including Ryder Cup golf, the Olympic Games, Jules Verne yachting (Tracy Edwards and Royal & Sun Alliance) and the Benetton Formula One Team.

With his previous career in public relations, Hamish also writes editorial features for various publications on Mallorca.

Hamish lives in Bendinat with his long term partner Amanda Butler and a dog named Snowflake.

We plan to have booths at the MYBA Show and the Palma Superyacht Show if all goes well, so we would be delighted to see you.

Roger Horner – e3 systems