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Reliability key as LEO technologies take hold

Seatrade Maritime Coverage Cloud team spoke to Nabil Ben Soussia, Group CCO and President Asia, Middle East & CIS at IEC Telecom on the importance of having resilient satcom network architecture on board to ensure operational efficiency and cyber security in the maritime sector.

High-speed connectivity aboard is not a given; it may be limited to certain satellite coverage or be affected by harsh weather conditions. How can you assure business continuity for digitalised vessels?

It is a very good question because the companies and the maritime industry is moving toward having more and more high speed. So, the more you have high speed, the more you have processes and systems on board that are using the internet or the connectivity. More you are dependent on the connectivity and you need to keep it. So, let's say it is maybe less harmful to lose a connectivity two years back than today than after two, three years. So more you have technology more you depend on the technology.

Now having the technology you should have a backup. And the backup should be either double the cost or less quality. And it is important to have a trade-off where you don’t lose the quality and don't double the cost. And here where you can we can introduce solutions like compression, like better uses of the capacity, prioritisation of applications. As a result, not all the applications have the same priority, they are so important, but they have to remain. So this trade off. This is the consultancy work we do with the customers and this is where we bring their attention to these key moments that they have to take care of.

Last year IMO introduced a range of requirements for the cyber security of vessels. How is adoption of that regulation going?

A lot of demands in the beginning, many companies were not understanding what they have to do, we had to work closer, and sometimes we had to take charge of the whole design or the cybersecurity team, because there was a lot of unclear things. The IMO regulation is preparing for the future. It was not necessarily what is available in every single vessel. It is very important for everyone to understand that the more you increase sensors, capacity, connected items and tools on board, the more you're putting yourself at risk of cybersecurity, that should not be something that will bring you down and say we will not do it. It just that you have to take care of the cybersecurity at the same level it goes together. Cybersecurity is not a magic solution that someone would bring to you. It is a full process that starts with the solution to a behavior. Let's say it's like a diet, you have to follow those rules to make sure that you stay within the cybersafe environment.

What is the next big thing? What technologies can be expected onboard 5-10 years down the line?

Today, the introduction of LEO satellites is changing the world and is definitely affecting the satellite world, maybe it will affect even the terrestrial communication. Financially, there are too many providers now, and they will not all survive or have the same success. So someone will find it difficult, some will make it successful, those new players coming to the market, they are changing the whole environment but they have also to understand why and how the environment is like this today. You can’t just change [the environment] you have to take what is good out of it. Bring new solutions and bring also confidence that it will work after two years like it's working today, and that financially is worth it.