RedPort Global: Delivering Optimized Data Connections for Maritime Needs

How does a Thuraya distribution partner sell connectivity to ship owners? By making it as straightforward as possible, according to John Dark, VP of Sales and Marketing for RedPort Global.

Dark describes his company’s business philosophy as simply focusing on the provision of cost effective, optimized voice and data services. “Data over satellite has traditionally been slower and more expensive than over other connections, and yet we are seeing more and more demand every day,” he says. “Our goal is to optimize connection speeds, and doing so at reasonable prices.”

RedPort Global was launched in 2010 as wholesale solution provider, a brand of Global Marine Networks (GMN) which was originally founded in 2003 to sell satellite email services. The company became a Thuraya partner in 2013. Its solutions run the gamut of connectivity needs. “We might start with a user on a handheld satellite phone who wants to create a Wi-Fi hotspot and access data—something that can be easily done over the Thuraya network thanks to its 9600bps data speed and low latency,” he says.

Specific to the maritime market, GMN delivers connections via the Thuraya Seagull SF2500, the Atlas IP or the new Orion IP broadband terminals for a variety of marine applications ranging from small commercial vessels to large cruise ships.

The RedPort Optimizer Crew, developed by RedPort Global, acts as an all-in-one router, firewall and traffic management system. Through this satellite Wi-Fi router, ship owners can provide crew connectivity and optimize onboard operations through greater broadband speeds and at reduced costs.

“For maritime users, there are generally two ways to pitch what we do,” Dark explains. “Either they want faster speeds, or they want to reduce costs. The RedPort Optimizer Crew lets them do both, because the speed is increased to such an extent that users are getting 85% savings on their data. So they are getting their data faster by using less.”

In practice, what Dark observes is that when users are satisfied knowing that they got a good value solution, they will tend to increase their expenditure.

“It’s not uncommon to find ships in which the crew refrains from using the data connection beyond what is necessary, due to the risk of bill shock. After every installation of the RedPort Optimizer Crew onboard, we saw an increase in data consumption, which stemmed from users knowing they are getting a well-managed service,” adds Dark.

The RedPort Optimizer Crew can be configured to meet the needs of both business and crew communications using any Thuraya narrowband or broadband terminal, with controls in place to allow crew the freedom to use their own devices while managing the time, data volume and service they can access.

As a result, RedPort Global played a leading role in igniting the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) revolution in maritime. For marine operators, the Optimizer Crew can be set up to provide any degree of access according to their preferences. The owner will usually have open access while the crew can use it to access data by tapping on the Wi-Fi hotspot through unique user PIN codes.

Connections can also be configured to control the quality of service provided. The owner can either limit each user to a certain amount of megabytes at a predetermined data rate, or allow access by username and password with fixed amounts of data or time.

Dark is quick to praise Thuraya’s maritime offerings, which delivered high quality products that act as viable alternatives against more established competitors.

“The feedback we on Thuraya is very positive. The handsets were well-received, and the quality of the narrow and broadband terminals is very good,” he says. “Considering that Thuraya has put out two products in a short time span and are directly comparable to competitors who have been around for a long time, this is an achievement for Thuraya to be on par so quickly.”

As Dark points out, the RedPort Optimizer and the RedPort Optimizer Crew work equally well in relief, NGO, media and government sectors on land, but said that he sees a strong potential from the maritime market.

“Maritime is in our blood and we have a lot of legacy maritime customers. But right now, our focus is on data; there is so much data consumption on the water than there is on land, so that makes it a natural priority,” he concludes.

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