Solstad Offshore signs up North Sea vessels for new Inmarsat service

Written by Nick Blenkey
Solstad offshore service vessel

Image: Solstad Offshore ASA

Skudeneshavn, Norway, headquartered Solstad Offshore ASA is to switch a number of its North Sea vessels to Inmarsat’s new Fleet LTE service.

Offshore vessel operators commonly buy LTE and VSAT connectivity separately, using LTE when within range of shore, rigs or wind farm networks then relying on crew to switch manually to VSAT beyond 4G coverage limits. Costs can be hard to control where services are billed separately, while manual switchovers can mean suboptimal signals or service interruptions.

Developed for flexibility, performance and affordability, Inmarsat Fleet LTE delivers hybrid connectivity via 4G cellular connectivity provided by Tampnet plus satellite coverage on Inmarsat’s Fleet Xpress Ka-band and FleetBroadband L-band services, switching between networks on a fully automated basis.

“The Fleet LTE combination of bandwidth, reasonable pricing and guaranteed connectivity makes sense in today’s offshore market, which is simultaneously cost driven and hungry to exploit the opportunities created by digitalization and real time data analytics,” says Christian Nesheim, ICT Director, Solstad Offshore ASA.

Inmarsat says that algorithms within the Fleet LTE router switch seamlessly between LTE and VSAT so that service integrity, high speed data transfer and low latency are always optimised. The “three-in-one” service provides a one stop shop for 4G, Ka-band and L-band without the complication of dual billing or the risk of disconnection.

Following successful trials on board three Solstad vessels over the first three months of 2021, Fleet LTE will be commissioned on the remaining relevant vessels. With a fleet of around 100 vessels, Solstad Offshore is one of the largest offshore support vessel owners in the world.

“Inmarsat has supported Solstad Offshore’s requirement for connectivity over many years, which makes its commitment to our new Fleet LTE service package especially welcome,” says Eric Griffin, VP of Offshore and Fishing, Inmarsat Maritime. “We look forward to working with Solstad as it takes advantage of affordable high speed bandwidth and low latency to support its unfolding digital strategy for offshore operations within the North Sea.”

Following the launch of its Fleet LTE Offshore service for North Sea customers last year, Inmarsat unveiled plans to develop an equivalent bundled offering to offshore vessels in the Gulf of Mexico, after extending its agreement with subsea fibre and offshore LTE network operator, Tampnet.

The seamless integration of multiple technologies into one cohesive solution is similar to Inmarsat’s recently announced plan for ORCHESTRA, the “dynamic mesh network” that will bring together existing geosynchronous (GEO) satellites with low earth orbit satellites (LEO) and terrestrial 5G into an integrated, high-performance solution.

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