The International Telecommunication Union estimates that 90 percent of the global population is now covered by a 2G mobile cellular network. (Half that, or 45 percent, is covered by 3G.)
But, of course, that global population is on land. If you're out on the open seas, it's a different story. Not surprisingly, the oceans are the last "white spot" for the mobile communication industry to connect.
Earlier this month, Maersk Line, the largest shipping company in the world, announced that it is taking steps to change all that. The company has appointed Ericsson to introduce end-to-end systems integration and deployment of mobile and satellite communication to the entire Maersk Line fleet.
More specifically, over the next two years Maersk Line will outfit 400 of its 500+ container vessels with Ericsson antennas and GSM base stations. Upgrades to the remaining vessels will be made soon after.
It's an important step, because as Ericsson points out, mobile communication provides opportunities for the shipping industry to upgrade several essential processes. For example, until now, Maersk Line's high-tech modern container ships have been equipped with satellite connectivity primarily intended to support communication for vital shipboard functions. But Ericsson says its new integrated maritime mobile and very-small-aperture terminal (VSAT) satellite solution will allow Maersk Line to better address:
interaction with vessels,
information sharing with customers and
These improvements can lead to greater reliability and cost reduction. They also pave the way for immediate access to remote expertise, resulting in extended access to information and, in turn, improved efficiency in the vessels' daily operation.
"We're proud to be able to connect Maersk Line's fleet with our technology," said Hans Vestberg, President and CEO of Ericsson. "We believe in a Networked Society, where connectivity will only be the starting point for new ways of innovating, collaborating and socializing. The result will be automated and simplified processes, higher productivity, real-time information allowing quicker, more informed decision making and problem solving."