Data Released on Crew Connectivity (10/10)


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A new study released by Futurenautics Research, “Crew Connectivity 2015 Survey Report,” has determined that seafarers’ demand for Internet access at sea has never been greater. While Internet availability has increased from last year, only 43 percent of mariners report having access on board. Contrasted with the sharp increase in smartphone use by crews at sea, up 20 percent from 2014 to 77 percent, it’s clear that there is still a large gap in connectivity for many seafarers.


The survey was conducted between April and August 2015, with more than 3,000 mariners from 30 different countries responding to questions about crew connectivity and communications. Some 59 percent of respondents were officers, and 41 percent were ratings.


Internet access level does vary widely across the industry, with the container, bulk and general cargo sectors lagging behind the rest at less than 25 percent having access, according to the study. However, Internet connectivity in the passenger industry is much more commonplace, with 85 percent reporting available access.


The change in usage level is also pronounced over last year’s report. Nearly 60 percent of those who reported having access to the Internet use it daily, as opposed to the majority of mariners last year reporting that they used the service no more than once a week. This is likely due to the smartphone replacing laptop computers as the most common device taken aboard a ship, according to the survey.


However, even when Internet access is available, there is still another issue with connecting: price. As stated in the survey, “The factor that most limits the use of crew communications facilities provided is — unsurprisingly — the cost of those services. The number of crew that indicated this as the primary factor in limiting usage has increased by 10 percent over 2014. The issue of cost is confined to those ship operators who provide crew connectivity through L-band demand assigned services, rather than always-on VSAT solutions. With the latter systems crew pay typically less than 30 cents per minute for satellite telephony. Those using L-band services are more typically paying approximately $1.00 / minute for voice.”


Internet availability does affect how a large amount of mariners decide which ships to work on. According the survey, 73 percent of mariners said that the level of access available on a ship influenced their decision to work for that company. Of those that said it was a factor, 78 percent said that it was a strong or very strong influence on their decision.


The survey states, “For ship operators evaluating the importance of crew communications to their own overall recruitment and retention policies, it is clear that the level of provision of crew connectivity will have a major influence on which companies crews ultimately decide to work for. In a time where attracting and retaining quality, qualified crew is so important this should serve as a wake-up call to crewing and HR departments and further strengthens the need for them to work more closely with other departments within the organization in order to ensure the package they provide attracts and retains the right crew.”


Tech literacy is also very high among mariners, as stated in the survey: “90 percent of respondents considered that they both understood how the technology they used at sea worked, and were comfortable using it, or were so knowledgeable that they helped others on board with technology.”


Despite the recent increases in Internet availability, it is still much more common for seafarers to have access to voice calling via satellite telephone. On average, 79 percent of mariners with access to some form of communication have access to telephone calls. This is an increase of 3 percent compared to 2014.




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