Connexion by Boeing is expanding its service to the maritime industry.
Boeing, which offers airline passengers a broadband internet connection via satellite, has successfully tested real-time data communication and live, high-quality video teleconferencing from a private vessel in Seattle's Lake Union to the company's Seattle campus.
The service, which is already being installed on planes owned by several international airlines, is expected to be approximately 10 times faster than most commonly deployed communications systems available in the maritime industry today - and less expensive to use.
Details about the system and service pricing will be announced closer to launch.
"We're engaged in discussions with several of the leading maritime operators, as well as potential distributors, and have received a tremendously positive response to our service and the speeds at which we can move data," said Connexion by Boeing president Scott Carson.
The maritime offering uses the existing satellite and ground-based network already set up by Connexion by Boeing and will bring the same capabilities for robust, high-speed connectivity to the maritime industry.
Existing networks will provide coverage in the North Atlantic, and an offering for Pacific Ocean coverage will be announced soon.
Vessel operators and passengers will be able to use the Connexion service to access the internet and firewall-protected corporate intranets; send e-mails or open large attachments from incoming e-mails; get news, weather or destination information; and view satellite television programming.
In addition, the service will enhance ship-to-shore communications for ship captains and crew and enable a crew to monitor ships' systems and cargo remotely to improve the efficiency and safety of the vessels.
"This is a very natural expansion of Connexion by Boeing's service," said Craig Mathias, an analyst at Farpoint Group. "Internet access on ships has been mostly low-speed. This is broadband, so it will give them high-speed access."
"Business people are used to getting their daily dose of the internet - ships do often have internet cafes where you are able to connect to the internet, though the rates are typically expensive per minute. So, if Boeing is able to offer a less-expensive alternative with good enough data rates, it actually might be a good seller," said Alan Reiter, an analyst at Wireless Internet & Mobile Computing.
"But Connexion might be able to expand into ships that are less consumer-oriented, such as freighters, where checking the internet would be useful for everything from ship-related information to enabling the crew to communicate with their friends and relatives."
Linda Rosencrance writes for Computerworld