Telecommunications and service provider Eurona and Spanish satellite operator Hispasat are collaborating to provide satellite Internet access for high-sea fishing vessels. By means of their satellite subsidiary Quantis and through Hispasat's satellite capacity, Eurona will allow these vessels to make a technological leap enhancing their capabilities of maritime management on vessels and, above all, ensuring the crew’s contact with their family enabling them to keep up to date with ongoing activities back home.
Fishing vessels currently have satellite connection, but it consists of basic connectivity, what we call 'narrow band' technology, since it only allows for voice services and low-speed data transmission at a high cost. Nevertheless, having complete connectivity on vessels is possible thanks to VSAT (Very Small Aperture Terminal) technology, which provides Internet access, data transmission and, of course, voice/IP connections. It does however require an investment that many fishing vessels have not as yet been able to afford.
Technological collaboration between Eurona and Hispasat makes this cutting-edge technology available to the fishing industry and allows crews to chat via Whatsapp or Skype with their family and friends, receive videos of their children or grandchildren and even vote electronically. In other words, the crew can go on with "life back home" when out at sea, in spite of the thousands of kilometres separating the two physical locations.
To this end, both companies have set up a specific service for fishing vessels who require message transmission, phone calls, and access to connectivity over a wide range of coverage –from the Sole Bank in the North Atlantic, to the fishing grounds of the Mediterranean and the Atlantic coast of Africa- with speeds ranging from 500 Kilobytes per second to 4 Megabytes per second, thus at least tripling current connection speed.
This is a market with high potential, since, while 100% of yachts and oil tankers already enjoy VSAT technology, only 1% of the 10,000 fishing vessels in Spain –according to EU data, which yields figures of over 87,000 fishing vessels in Europe-, have said technology, which means that approximately 9,000 fishing vessels lack network connectivity, which in turn affects their logistical and human management.
This new service will make Internet access more democratic within the fishing industry, something that, according to the head of the satellite division and CEO of Quantis, Aquilino Antuña "must be encouraged by public administrations, both on a national and European level, allocating more funds to a sector deeply affected by the economic crisis and of vital importance in regions such as Galicia, where it accounts for 2.1% of their GDP".
As a matter of fact, Burela (Lugo) is the location where Eurona and Hispasat will present this solution to the industry at the Expomar Fair -one of the main events of the nautical and fishing sector in Spain – to be held from 25 to 28 May. On Saturday 27 May both companies will perform a live demonstration of the antennas and VSAT technology.
Satellites are one of the main strategic areas of Eurona’s business, as demonstrated last summer with the acquisition of Quantis, the brand with which the company recently broke into the maritime sector in order to provide connectivity to passenger ferries, yachts, fishing vessels and rescue vessels navigating on Mediterranean waters.
All around need for the Internet has been the driving force in the revolution on the satellite market, currently the only technology capable of reaching any location, and thus it will be decisive in the future for the challenge of extending the use of connected cars. Therefore, the technological operator is expecting the turnover in the area of satellites to double over the next five years, increasing to 62.6 million euros, 3.5% of which will originate from the maritime sector. Thus, satellites are one the main drivers of the company's new Business Plan, which is expecting a tenfold increase in revenue, reaching 234 million euros and a sevenfold increase in Ebitda, up to 34 million euros.