KVH expands its seafarer leisure offerings

Aug 31 2013

KVH Industries has strengthened its OEM and leisure marine business with the appointment of dedicated marine sales manager for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA).

Former CA Case employee Andrew Bush will manage KVH’s entire OEM and leisure marine business unit for the EMEA region. His job will include increasing market share for the TracVision satellite television antenna systems as well as the TracPhone satellite communications systems and its mini-VSAT Broadband satcoms service.

Meanwhile, KVH subsidiary Headland Media has signed up more than 60,000 seafarers to its new Crewtoo social media site, which is described as ‘the home of seafarers online.’

This significant milestone, achieved within 12 months of the site’s introduction, highlights the demand among seafarers for greater social interaction, KVH said.

In addition to Crewtoo, Headland Media is also known for its NewsLink newspapers, which are delivered to ships via satellite and its Walport movies and training videos.

The company was purchased by KVH Industries in May of this year.

“For many of the world’s 1.2 mill seafarers, the initial romantic vision of a life at sea was too soon replaced by the reality of hard work in harsh conditions and increasing isolation,” said Mark Woodhead, managing director of Headland Media. “Crewtoo’s unique objective is to combat that sense of loneliness and lack of contact that most people at sea experience, by providing a space where seafarers feel they belong and can converse. It is also a space where they can learn and it is becoming a platform for seafarers to help and inspire each other.”

On many of the world’s commercial vessels, smaller, multi-national crews often have language and cultural barriers that make it difficult for them to socialise. Shorter port calls and increased security regulations limit the traditional shore leave break. A lack of communications options on board also limits contact with family and friends onshore. And many vessels aren’t equipped with adequate sources of news and entertainment.

This issue has become serious enough to be addressed within ILO MLC 2006, which set standards designed to improve the living conditions of seafarers on board ships.

Headland Media’s services, which include news, sports, movies, music, and training videos in addition to Crewtoo, offer a comprehensive solution for commercial maritime companies keen to offer attractive working conditions and meet the new requirements of MLC 2006 that go into effect in August, the company said.

An added benefit of combining KVH and Headland Media services is that large files, such as Headland Media’s Hollywood movies and training videos will be able to be transmitted efficiently and affordably using KVH’s TracPhone V-IP series terminals, mini- VSAT Broadband network and new IPMobileCast service, which is expected to be available later this year, the company said.

This variety of services, provided in a convenient and affordable manner, is the ideal way for operators to improve crew welfare while maintaining focus on their economic well-being, KVH claimed.


Jeppesen tie up

In June, KVH said that it was to offer automatic position reports to support its customers who subscribe to the Jeppesen OpenENC ‘Pay-As-You-Sail’ (PAYS) electronic chart service.

OpenENC PAYS provides subscribers with access to the entire Jeppesen ENC database, allowing them to pay only for the charts they actually use based on position reports made periodically to Jeppesen.

KVH’s new TracPhone V-IP series terminals all feature internal GPS systems, which enable accurate position tracking for Jeppesen without needing to interface with the vessel’s navigation system, thus providing an affordable PAYS solution for mutual KVH and Jeppesen customers, the company claimed.

“Jeppesen OpenENC PAYS is already an excellent subscription option for vessels that travel variable routes and need to meet IMO requirements for ECDIS,” said Alex Zakroff, Jeppesen’s vice president/general manager, marine. “KVH plans to make it easy and economical for their mini-VSAT Broadband customers to use our PAYS solution by providing affordable position reports. Our companies expect that aligning our technologies will enhance the value we bring to the customer.”

“KVH and Jeppesen have been having a lot of creative discussions about ideas for making satellite delivery of charts a practical replacement for physically distributing DVDs to vessels. Through this co-operation, we realised that the position data we were already collecting to support our mini-VSAT Broadband service was exactly what Jeppesen needed to support their PAYS service,” explained Brent Bruun, executive vice president of KVH’s mobile broadband group.

“With the permission of the customer, we can support the Jeppesen service and since the data is already traveling over our network back to our own operations centre, we decided to offer it as a benefit to mini-VSAT Broadband customers,” he said.

KVH’s mini-VSAT Broadband service was launched six years ago and is now claimed to be the maritime industry’s largest VSAT service, according to three major industry research reports.

To add to its data and voice connectivity, KVH launched a new initiative this year in an attempt to make the mini-VSAT Broadband network the industry’s most efficient content delivery platform.

The new IP-MobileCast service is expected to be available to support all of Jeppesen’s flexible chart licensing programmes, including traditional direct licensing, cost-effective dynamic licensing, and flexible Pay-As-You- Sail (PAYS) service by the end of 2013, subject to final agreement between the parties.

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