Communications sector looks to brighter times in 2010

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2010 will see brighter times in shipboard communications with airtime traffic and usage expected to go up, a leading Inmarsat service provider has claimed.

Asad Salameh, President of World-Link Communications, said ship owners and managers are ready to be sold the real benefits that onboard broadband communications can bring such as improved fuel savings, lower maintenance costs and a happier and better connected shipboard crew complement.

“For a market that is coming out of the freeze, concern remains about a slow recovery. More than ever before ship owners and managers have to be sold on the benefits of broad band, and new services being proposed as operational costs remain a major concern,” he said.

The maritime communications sector is developing a more constructive dialogue with the industry at large with ship owners really trying to understand how communication can reduce their fuel costs and generally improve efficiencies onboard their ships.

“Ship owners are also becoming more forward looking as far as initiatives such as social networking sites are concerned. Today’s ship owner may not have his own Facebook page but he has heard enough about Facebook to say that maybe it is something that will help us provide a better environment for his crew. So the dialogue is elevated to a higher grade from just a cost and rates discussion to a discussion of ‘how does this solution really benefit me?’. That is the discussion that World-Link wants to be participating in,” Mr Salameh said.

He continued: “It is more important now than ever before, that we show the benefits of broadband communication onboard ship but we have to take into consideration the fact that ship owners are more cautious with their money. So because our products show tangible benefits, they are more significant and popular now than in good economic times. We have always been about saving money and providing a better service and reducing the cost of communications.”

World-Link Communications recently launched Ahoy-Ahoy, the first seafarer’s social network optimised for maritime broadband connection. Seafarers using the network can:

• Send SMS to any mobile phone in the world
• Send threaded mail to friends
• Chat with friends. Send files as well as save/retrieve conversations. Ahoy-Ahoy web chat consumes half the bandwidth of Windows Live Messenger and similar programs
• Share personal information with friends
• Receive home country news through RSS
• Send gifts to loved ones, such as virtual flowers, etc.
• Send & receive, accept or deny friendship requests. See own friends, friends of friends, people you may know, and pending friendship requests. Send a friendship request to a specific email address and add a small message to it
• Have own online contact book. Contact books from Hotmail, Yahoo & Gmail can be used to invite friends to join their network
• Post his own resume in a resume bank and get advice on maritime issues
• Play games
• Upload photos and organise them in albums. Rotate/Flip/Mirror/Crop images. Define photo as album cover. Automatic optimisation of the size during the upload. Multi image upload supported
• Blogging