For decades, satellite-based solutions have been the only option for communication at sea.
By 2030, the digitalisation of industries such as manufacturing, and transport could generate US$3.8 trillion of revenue opportunities across the ICT sector. This estimate includes the maritime and ports industry.
In a recently released report by Ericsson, as with other industries, the maritime industry is interested in systems for improving safety, autonomous navigation, IoT monitoring and automation.
However, the maritime industry has been dependent on satellite-based communication, which has relatively higher latencies, higher cost models and lower bit rates than terrestrial-based 4G LTE and 5G mobile networks.
As a result, digitalisation in the maritime industry has progressed at a slower pace than other Industry 4.0 verticals.
Satellite-based monopoly over the seas has also slowed down the pace of innovation in the maritime industry because the satellites are far out in space and have long life cycles in excess of 15 years, claimed Serdar Sahin, director of product management at Ericsson ONE.
Through innovative use of 5G and other technologies, the Maritime Mesh Network builds a reliable dynamic network architecture, similar to a spider’s web, between maritime vessels across common international shipping lanes.
Assuming that there are approximately 200 vessels present en route with a random uniform distribution of the ships, initial calculations indicate about 99.9 percent coverage guarantee across major well-trafficked shipping lanes, such as the 2,500km Oman-India shipping route.
Each connection between two ships delivers latency within a few milliseconds, indicating that latency will be much lower than satellite-based models which deliver latency in the region of 700 milliseconds.
Basic but essential services such as voice and video can be enabled in areas where there is continuous coverage, such as close to shore, and in other areas when Maritime Mesh Network executes on its roadmap, noted Sahin.