Cells set sail

Cells set sail

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The omnipresent advance of personal wireless communications is not making any less progress on deep waters than it is on firm land and skies. A range of innovative applications from established transmission technologies is providing the maritime industry with new opportunities, from which ship owners, shipping lines and communications service providers are all likely to benefit. Up until now, only vessels with large numbers of passengers, such as cruise ships and ferries, have justified the business case for offering personal onboard mobile communications, particularly because of having to rely on continuous signalling/always-on satellite bandwidth at considerable cost to the ship operator. Yet, in a world where most passengers or crew now expect access to personal mobile communications anytime, anywhere, overcoming the costly technological barrier of continuous signalling has been a major factor in enabling delivery of such services to merchant vessels with relatively low numbers of people on board. New technology has now emerged to make this possible, and has been pioneered by Irish company Altobridge in the form of their AM (aeronautical and maritime) Gateway solution. This wireless networking technology can deliver a personal communications service for crew/passenger sizes of less than 100, and as low as 10. The article describes the technology and architecture involved.

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