By Nabil Ben Soussia, Managing Director, IEC Telecom Middle East
The Internet today is a critical part of all our lives. It has numerous uses, including obtaining information, communicating with others, and keeping up with the world. The Internet is used for business and pleasure alike. And increasingly, users expect and require connectivity even while on the go. Whether they are on a flight, traveling by road or by sea, they seek connectivity.
This is substantiated by the fact that more than 4 billion people around the world use the Internet on a daily basis, the UAE alone has more than 9 million Internet users with a penetration of 99%. Internet penetration overall in the Middle East is at 65% and rising rapidly. Studies show that businessmen in the Middle East spend the least amount of time on personal activities, instead of spending long hours at work. Their average working day is 12 – 14 hours and they expect to stay connected, wherever they are.
Many of these businesses also need the benefit of onboard connectivity whilst at sea. Specifically, with regard to Dubai as an international business hub, the yachting industry has proven to be one of the main pillars for the growth of the maritime sector. Further, the Middle East yacht market has been experiencing an approximate annual growth of 5-10%. Globally too, the yacht charter market was valued at USD 35 billion and is projected to reach USD 51 billion by 2020, growing at a CAGR of 6.5% during the forecast period.
Staying connected at sea is a strong operational advantage and can add value and flexibility to any business. Many businesses are then able to conduct their operations regardless of their location. Comprehensive maritime connectivity using global satellite networks can provide an “on-land” user experience, while at sea. Yachts and boats will no longer be limited to a leisure experience, they may also function as an office, a hotel or anything a customer needs them to be. Businesses can use reliable, high-speed networks to communicate, conduct business transactions and even stream on social media.
A good solution for connectivity at sea should be developed based on the latest technology for fast and long-range access. It should incorporate a full function Wi-Fi router as well as wired LAN and WAN ports. The link must be a reliable one. Ideally, it should also support advanced filtration for smart and cost-effective consumption. To be able to track costs, it should be manageable via an online account and equipped with advanced reporting tools. The antenna onboard should be serviceable. 24/7 technical support is critical in order to ensure a smooth experience throughout the customer’s journey. Access to information, business apps, and collaboration tools must be secure, regardless of the device.
Broadband solutions like FlexiYacht offer yacht owners and operators flexible and affordable Internet access providing connectivity across all seas between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. It can be set up even on the smallest yachts and allows users to select broadband bundles based on their consumption needs, with no lock-in monthly commitment.
Going forward, the need for quality connectivity at affordable rates in the maritime sector will only increase. Digital tools and solutions are delivering a wide range of benefits to businesses everywhere. There has never been a greater need for a seamless experience like there is now. This, in turn, will give rise to more solutions that are both efficient as well as reliable.