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The importance of internet access for seafarers

The importance of internet access for seafarers

Working at sea can be very isolating, which is why internet connectivity for seafarers is crucial. Crew members need to be able to connect with loved ones at home when away for a long time, as it can take a toll on crew well-being and mental health. MiWire supports this by bringing cost-efficient connectivity to the sea.

In May 2022, the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) updated the Maritime Labor Convention, securing seafarers the right to socially used internet access. This came in light of COVID-19, when seafarers were working at sea for long periods of time, while not being able to connect to loved ones regularly. It affected the crew’s well-being and mental health, by not being able to check up on family and friends while the pandemic was at its highest and most uncertain. Mark Dickinson, who is the vice chair of the Seafarers’ department in the International Transport Workers’ Federation, STC vice-president and spokesperson for the Seafarers Group said:

"Working for long periods at sea can be isolating. And a lack of contact with the outside world can have profound implications for seafarers’ wellbeing — which we saw the worst effects of during Covid."

The update of the Maritime Labor Convention sets a precedent for better working conditions for seafarers, as well as equal access to connectivity for all remote workers. However, the problem is not yet solved. Though seafarers have won the right to internet access, many shipowners still claim the right to limit access as well as charge fees for seafarers’ social usage of internet. This may mark the update of the MLC redundant for seafarers if the charges are too high or they cannot access internet.

"Being able to keep in touch with family and friends isn’t just a nice-to-have, it’s a basic human right. That’s why we fought so hard for seafarers to be given internet access and to have a mandatory provision in the MLC."

At MiWire we could not agree more, and we fully support the update of the MLC. With our patented SeaWire solutions, we can help seafarers get access to a fast and stable internet connection. One of the main benefits of our solutions is that they are cost-efficient. Our intelligent, auto-rotating, directional antennas will automatically locate and connect to base stations when sailing. We have invented solutions that use the already existing 4G LTE and 5G networks, so we can offer seafarers internet access at a relatively low cost for shipowners.

Our patented solutions

Many have developed directional antennas, that one must point towards base stations manually. Few have made systems in which you can transform 4G to a local WiFi hotspot. However, MiWire is the first to invent a mechanically high performance auto-rotating, directional antenna with a built-in modem and a controller to automatically point the antenna towards the base station with the highest data throughput. With the auto-rotating directional antenna we avoid users needing to be experts to find the best operator base station and manually point the antenna towards it. With the built-in modem, we avoid signal loss in cables. And with the advanced software algorithm we made our solutions intelligent. They scan and memorize the network infrastructure, so when changes in the network are made, they automatically connect to another base station. For our maritime solutions we have developed even more advanced systems to locate the base station positions while the vessels are moving. With our SeaWire Pro solutions, we have made a two-antenna configuration, where the user stays connected to at least one base station at all times.

Feel free to visit our website and learn more about our SeaWire solutions.

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