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Smart Containers - How Ever Given will speed up industry-wide rollout and why reliable 24/7 connectivity will be essential

Robert Koldys, VP marketing & business development at Telecom26 Robert Koldys, VP marketing & business development at Telecom26

As events unfolded in The Suez last month, the industry divided into those who had full visibility of their containers - on the Ever Given or stuck in the queue of some 400 vessels- and those who didn’t, writes Robert Koldys, VP marketing & business development at Telecom26.

The owners of Smart Containers were able to track the location of their cargo as it idled or was rerouted around the Cape of Good Hope, a 5,500-mile diversion which takes seven to 10 days longer.  Visibility that enabled information on ETA to be provided back to product owners. Small consolation for those with resulting supply chain issues but reassuring to have greater insight.

Perhaps this event will do more to speed up the rollout of Smart Containers than any other.  Certainly, the shipping ecosystem - led by early adopter vendors and shipping companies - has been discussing the pros and cons of global industry-wide rollouts with standardised technologies for a good few years now.

According to last year’s report Smart Container Market – Global Analysis and Forecast to 2027″ published by The Insight Partners, the global smart container market was valued at US $2.14bn in 2018 and is expected to reach US$ 11.29 Bn by 2027.

The report says that the role of smart containers is to manage the entire shipment and delivery process of goods through connectivity, cloud computing traceability, monitoring, and smart sensors” and that “demand seems to be strongest from Smart Reefer Vendors”.

The report wisely segments the market into the essential components of Smart Containers:

  • Hardware which includes various sensors and antennas, IoT devices, modems, and routers deployed in smart containers.
  • Software covers various smart container software solutions including remote container management.
  • Services cover managed and professional services.

Always-on reliable connectivity

Falling into the hardware camp, and key to the success of Smart Containers, is the Internet of Things (IoT). This allows the information about the container and its contents which is gathered by sensors to be transmitted to both the crew - and remotely to the shipping line and owners of the container’s contents.

And key to the success of IoT is fast and always-on broadband connectivity which enables information sharing in real-time.

Satellite has traditionally been the connectivity tool of choice for the shipping industry. Expensive but always-on.

However, the major problem with the cellular at sea approach is that multiple SIMs have been required to ensure coverage throughout the cruise.  As the ship crosses borders, so the network operators will change.

With the specific goal of improving connectivity at sea, Telecom26 has a multi-pronged approach:

1. Multi-IMSI global SIM cards which enable Global Roaming.

These enable one SIM to access multiple networks both in-country and across borders thus removing the need to worry about the coverage of a single MNO, or the existence of roaming alliances. Multiple-IMSI profiles are pre-loaded onto every SIM allowing for simple reconfiguration if the primary network has poor or no service.

Our Multi-IMSI global SIMs automatically select the best performing network in the area, cross-border, while providing users with the freedom to change SIM profiles and services with ease.

When a vessel is travelling along the coast or anchored at port, the SIMs would use the best available cellular network and switch to satellite only when absolutely necessary.

2. A multi-SIM router hosting SIMs with multi-IMSI feature, enables ship-wide Wi-Fi on which crew can use their personal and business devices.  No more bill shock for any of them when they return home.

The Telecom26 offering can combine both a full mobile private network at sea as well as a nearshore offering in order to provide contiguous mobile coverage at the lowest cost available. 

To learn more about Telecom26’s suite of maritime connectivity and nearshore connectivity services please visit

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Digital Ship magazine provides the latest information about maritime satellite communications technology, software systems, navigation technology, computer networks, data management and TMSA. It is published ten times a year.


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