A new Irish start-up company, Bluewater Wireless, promises to develop a cheaper and more convenient cellular phone service for mariners. Robert Johnson, formerly Inmarsat’s director of maritime and aeronautical services, will manage the Dublin-based company.
Bluewater Wireless plans to use a patented new technology developed by another Irish company, Altobridge, to allow deep-sea cell phone users to route calls and SMS text messages via satellite for a fixed cost with the use of a dedicated SIM card. They will also be able to send e-mail and browse the Internet on their existing handset. The system will be cheaper than using typical GSM roaming services and is expected to run about $1.25 a minute, anytime. One added advantage is that calls can now be placed and received below decks unlike with handheld satellite phones that operate best on deck.
Users will connect to the maritime network the same way they do to their land-based network, and calls to and from these users are billed in the same way as with their land-based network. There is no billing alterations or integration issues with the system.
The system is geared toward merchant ships where nearly all crewmembers have personal cell phones but may also be applicable to larger yachts, fishing vessels, oilrigs or any other offshore vessels where there are larger crews and multiple users.