SeaFi Marine Data Communications, the Ringaskiddy-based company which developed the system, says that data speeds can reach 5 to 10 Mbps both for upload and download transfers at sea. The system provides a dockside service and a harbour connection up to 15-20km from the shore.
For the dockside service, no special equipment is required: the crew members of a ship moored at a quay can use their own smartphone, tablet or laptop to connect to the internet.
For the other service, called SeaFi Horizon, a ship station (a fire-walled antenna with wireless access point on bridge) is required.
The system has been tested over the last six months on board a tug and a work-boat belonging to the port of Cork. It has allowed MV Denis Murphy and MV Gerry O’Sullivan to send and receive e-mails, images and work reports from around Cork Harbour.
The port says that it has saved time and money, eliminating the need for the work vessels and crew to go back to base for administrative purposes, as this can now be completed on board.
Following that trial, the port has struck a partnership deal with SeaFi Marine Data Communications to roll out SeaFi for all visiting commercial vessels.
Captain Paul O’Regan, harbour master, said: “Currently many commercial vessels using the Port of Cork use the internet via their on board sat-coms. Offering a Wi-Fi service will mean they have a more efficient service when transferring large data and faster download speeds which means cost savings for the ships equipped with a SeaFi Horizon ship station.”
“Now with Port of Cork SeaFi Dockside service, crew will be able to access their e-mails, call their family with Voice over IP (VoIP) which will greatly improve crew welfare.”
SeaFi Dockside will initially be rolled out at Ringaskiddy Deepwater Berth, Tivoli Container Terminal and Cobh Cruise Terminal.