Maritime Broadband Communication
The general challenge
Until a few years ago, directional radio links were rigid, stationary radio systems. In 2010, we started to analyze and optimize radio connections for ships with our Coast-Link™ radio concept. There were no existing systems to fall back on that were adapted for the maritime sector, so we had to develop and create our own holistic concept, from the ship’s radio connection via special network mechanisms to our own data center.
The solution ensures that ships can move in a defined sector and still maintain a connection to the port. Our special antenna design, which compensates for the movements and rotations of the ship, makes this possible. In this way, ships can remain connected at a distance of up to 50 km from the base station.
This is achieved by using a licensed frequency band. It allows ships to remain “online” in broadband mode at all times around their home port or along a stretch of coast. The necessary radio and operator licenses are obtained from the operator, dasNetz AG.
The radio connection does not have to be restricted to just one port, however. The aim is to establish comprehensive coverage for the German Exclusive Economic Zone. Base stations can be installed on offshore stations of wind farms, for example.
The Scandlines challenge
The Hamburg shipping company Scandlines GmbH operates several ferry routes on the Baltic Sea between Germany, Denmark and Sweden.The focus is on providing a good service and a varied onboard experience on the ferries as well as comprehensive shopping facilities in the BorderShops on land. Our challenge was to provide Internet with 20 Mbps for the Scandlines ferries at a ship to shore distance of 48 km, especially in waters that are difficult to reach with conventional communication systems.
The goal was to increase the efficiency of the offshore communications and connectivity to the central database as well as to simplify and improve electronic payment processes. This meant that we had to create a bandwidth with full data flat rate and low latency that can be used for Voice over IP telephony, the operation of EC cash terminals and hotspots, and the connection of the administration PCs. Now, after the conversion to hybrid ferries, the battery systems are also integrated into the online monitoring system via Coast-Link™.
The challenge of Global Health Care
When medical emergencies occur at sea, the nearest doctor is often a long way away.In such situations, the captain of the ship has the option of calling at the nearest port or arranging for the patient to be rescued by ship or helicopter. In both cases, however, valuable time is lost before the rescue crew can provide first aid. Also, satellite communication has generally been used on seagoing ships up to now. The satellite antenna on the ship compensates for the ship’s movements by automatically adjusting itself to point towards the satellite transponder. Rescue vessels, however, usually have to contend with a strong swell – which could be even stronger in a violent storm – and a conventional satellite antenna cannot guarantee a connection stable enough for telemedicine. In addition to this, limited bandwidths and long waiting times present the user with enormous problems.
A joint project involving Global Health Care, Siemens and Coast-Link™ provided the solution. GHC supplies the telemedicine technology, while Wireless Consulting GmbH is responsible for planning and implementing the Coast-Link™ communications infrastructure.
A network of base stations already ensures the comprehensive supply of our services in many areas.A multiple layer wireless infrastructure provides a wide range of services for different customer groups. Hybrid use is also possible via our scalable Coast-Link™ Onboard Unit. For backup purposes or to split the services for load balancing, several transmission paths can be routed on our Coast-Link™ Onboard Unit. Two different hardware versions of our Coast-Link™ Onboard Unit are available. Each hardware version has the same operating system and software, including all the functions.