SingTel Flooded With New Maritime Business As Sector Sees Growth in Asia

By | August 19, 2010 | Feature, Telecom

[Satellite News 08-19-10] SingTel’s maritime services sector now generates about half of the company’s total revenues, and the operator now is looking to increase consumer uptake, SingTel Vice President of Satellite Titus Yong told Satellite News.
    The maritime sector has received a flood of orders, and Singtel is confident it will continue to grow. “It is difficult to deliver them all. We have won a number of contracts in this area. Improved communications has become a vital component for shipping operators. For example, we have won a contract with Torm Shipping to equip their fleet of 100 ships with broadband services such as email, Internet and Intranet access as well as ship-to-ship and ship-to-shore voice communications services,” Yong said.
    Yong referred to a recent study by analyst firm NSR, which projected maritime broadband adoption in North America and Europe to grow at an annual rate of 14.4 percent and 14.7 percent between 2007 and 2018, respectively. Asia, however, beat both of those figures at 20.4 percent annual growth. “The more established maritime markets of North America and Europe have been steadily adopting maritime broadband through the years, but Asia shows the greatest potential for growth,” said Yong.
    Claude Rousseau, a senior analyst at NSR, said the market is healthy for satellite players, “be it for MSS or FSS and is actually in a growth phase of capacity supply as demonstrated by the recent entry into service over the region of Inmarsat and Thuraya satellites as well as the presence of satellites from GE and JCsat and SingTel.”
    Rousseau believes the recently issued International Maritime Organization requirements for shipping companies to use electronic chart display and information systems by 2012 will further accelerate the adoption of maritime broadband. “All stabilized antenna VSAT services have shown an annual growth in revenues of around 15 percent to 30 percent over the past five years,” he said.
    Improved crew welfare also is creating strong opportunities for satellite solution providers. According to Yong, increased access to broadband, communications and entertainment services is becoming much more a critical issue to shipping operators. “Isolation at sea makes it extremely difficult to attract and retain talents in the industry, especially the next generation of seafarers who are [information technology] savvy and used to being connected. This has resulted in a severe manpower shortage in the maritime industry today. The latest Drewry Shipping Consultants Manning 2009 Annual Report estimates there will be a worldwide shortfall of 56,000 officers in 2013, assuming the world commercial fleet grows by 14.6 percent,” he said.
    A retention survey conducted by Shiptalk Recruitment and Gilmour Research indicated 71 percent of seafarers polled indicated that broadband Internet access was the most important facility to have onboard, followed by telephone and e-mail access. “Rapid advancements in broadband technologies have ushered in a new era in maritime communications and business innovation and so we expect strong growth in the adoption of maritime broadband and [information and communication technologies solutions]. Several leading shipping companies have recognized the importance of [information and communication technologies solutions] in improving the way they operate and differentiate themselves from their competitors.”
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