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Maritime IT providers react to Haiyan disaster

KVH and Globe Wireless have both announced that they have both taken measures to assist Filipino seafarers in staying in touch with home in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan.

KVH has announced that all phone calls to the Philippines from vessels using its mini-VSAT Broadband service will be free for the time being in order to allow crew members to check on their family and friends.

“Filipino seafarers represent more than 20 per cent of the world’s mariners,” said Martin Kits van Heyningen, KVH CEO.

“In support of the many seafarers whose family and friends have been affected by the devastating typhoon in the Philippines, as of today, there will be no charge for calling the Philippines on any KVH TracPhone system with mini-VSAT Broadband service, on any vessel, anywhere in the world.”

The free Voice over IP (VoIP) calls will be for the vessel’s operations/company phones as well as for crew calling phones. In cases where crew members currently use a prepaid KVH calling card, the toll rate for calls to the Philippines will be zero.

“We are also offering free digital daily Filipino newspapers from our NewsLink group so that seafarers can keep abreast of the situation,” added Mr Kits van Heyningen.

“Not knowing if loved ones are safe is extremely difficult in any emergency situation, and it is particularly wrenching for a seafarer who may be halfway around the world from home.”

KVH says that the complimentary newspapers with local news from the Philippines will be provided to any vessels that request them, whether the vessels are KVH customers or not. To receive NewsLink’s Tagalog-language, digital daily newspaper free, Filipino seafarers are encouraged to send an e-mail to freenews@newslinkservices.com.

Crewtoo, KVH’s social media network for seafarers, is also providing information regarding relief efforts on the ground in the Philippines.

Globe Wireless has also responded to the tragedy by reducing the cost of crew calling for its customer vessels using Inmarsat FleetBroadband.

“With this horrible tragedy in the Philippines we can only imagine what it must feel like being away from home, so starting immediately until December 12th Globe Wireless will offer reduced cost calls to the Philippines via GlobeMobile, Globe iFusion Fixed Multiple Lines and through the standard terminal handset for all FleetBroadband crew calling,” said Chris Gray, VP of marketing and business development.

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