Self-funding Crew Wi-Fi

Working alongside 4MS Networks in Aberdeen, we helped design and implement a wi-fi solution for the crew on a working sea going vessel in the North Sea.

Reliability and ease-of-use were key for the proposed crew wi-fi system, as it is the primary communications system that allows vessel crew access to the outside world during their period at sea, which can be for up 12 weeks. From the operators perspective the system also needed to be easy to manage and self-funding, which allowed us to design a list of system attributes to meet the demands of the crew and management.

Wi-Fi Service Requirements

  • User friendly, reliable and robust system
  • 24/7 guest and staff technical support
  • Bandwidth Management per User
  • Subscriber Account management
  • Periodic reporting and Revenue management
  • Cloud based management systems
  • Pre-configured hardware and simple to install
  • Clear and precise Installation Instructions
  • Self-Financing (crew pay for usage)
  • Integrated Firewall
  • Warranty
  • Agreed supply and Install Frame Agreement

System Design

A key consideration was the connectivity required for an ocean going vessel to ensure a reliable system at any global location and often in extreme environments. To achieve this, the wi-fi system design included an automatic satellite tracking system, providing seamless global IP connectivity. Dual band Access Points (2.4/5GHz) were provided as standard to provide fast Wi-Fi Access and future proofing. A trial system was installed in advance of the full implementation program to allow us to obtain user feedback and adapt the design based on user feedback.

Funding Model

The operational costs of the crew Wi-Fi system needed to be self-funding and to meet this demand we investigated a number of different charging options. The crew members purchase blocks of data allowance when registering on the Wi-Fi system. They can then log-on and manage their own accounts, view their data usage and buy more data when they need it. And, dependant on the system usage, the cost per MB data can be varied by the operator to ensure costs are simply covered (rather than being run as a profit centre). This way, the crew get the maximum benefit of the onboard wi-fi.
“At the end of the 6 week trial period, we fed back the usage/financial statistics to the vessel operator. They had absolutely no hesitation in deciding to roll the system out to all of their vessels (30 in total)”

Installation Logistics

We prepared comprehensive installation instructions so that the IT engineering team can install the wi-fi onto a vessel when it comes into port. Due to the short turnaround times for some of the vessels when they dock, it is essential the installation process is quick and easy for the system and access points around the vessel.

Costing Model

Due to the different designs and sizes of vessels, a costing framework was produced for the operator to outline supply, installation and operational costs. This allows the vessel operator to call off a system as and when required, with the confidence that the system can be despatched and installed within a 14 day period.
“Our partnership with Vital Wifi is extremely important to 4MS Networks.  They share our focus on providing high quality solutions coupled with excellent customer service. Their adaptability and shared focus on giving our clients a great service has allowed us to scale the crew WiFi solution right across our energy industry client base.”

Hugh Mackay

Managing Director of 4MS Networks

Do You Need Crew Wi-FI?

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