Cradlepoint helping to keep seafarers in touch with families during pandemic

Cradlepoint Australia Pty Ltd

Friday, 21 May, 2021

Cradlepoint helping to keep seafarers in touch with families during pandemic

Cradlepoint has enabled Tas Bull Seafarers Foundation to provide internet connectivity to thousands of international seafarers entering Australian ports in a program called the Seafarer Connect Initiative.

Tas Bull Seafarers Foundation has rolled out Cradlepoint wireless cellular routers and its NetCloud Service at nine ports across New South Wales, Western Australia and Victoria so far, with the aim of equipping every port around Australia to enable connectivity for all seafarers entering the country.

“Supporting mental health and welfare of seafarers is a huge challenge in the industry across the world,” said Robert Coombs, Executive Chair, Tas Bull Seafarers Foundation. “Normally, seafarers are working on ships for nine months at a time; however, during the COVID-19 pandemic, crew have been on ships for nearly two years, which is impacting the mental health of the workers.”

Due to restrictions on international arrivals all around the world, seafarers have been unable to disembark their vessels, meaning they cannot call or connect with loved ones at home. The Seafarer Connect Initiative aims to enable international seafarers to connect with families and friends through Wi-Fi, free of charge, on their mobile devices. Worldwide, seaports are not built to provide internet connectivity for incoming ships. Nearly all ships have no access to Wi-Fi onboard except through satellite, which is very expensive and paid for by the seafarers.

Connectivity provided with Cradlepoint’s enterprise wireless WAN solution means that seafarers can communicate with family and download movies and, importantly, also stay up to date on the current COVID-19 status and information in the country they are travelling to and their home countries.

“Health advice and COVID-19 updates at each geography go through a chain of communications and is then translated for the crew onboard, which means delays and gaps in relaying important and timely information. Connectivity to the outside world means seafarers can get direct and current information in their native language,” said Bernie Farrelly, Project Manager, Tas Bull Seafarers Foundation.

Tas Bull Seafarers Foundation is now looking at providing internet connectivity at ports around the world. The organisation chose to work with Cradlepoint technology because not only does it satisfy global compliance requirements, it’s also reliable and secure. Especially as countries around the world move towards 5G, Cradlepoint is deemed as a secure solution with global LTE and 5G modems and multi-country certifications.

“The other key benefit of Cradlepoint for us is that often when we receive funding to provide connectivity at individual ports, that funding needs to be used quickly. The ability to deploy Cradlepoint solutions fast has been instrumental to the success of these projects,” Farrelly said.

“It's very rewarding to see firsthand how these incredible organisations like Tas Bull Seafarers Foundation use technology to truly improve people’s lives,” said Gavin Wilson, Managing Director APAC, Cradlepoint. “This is one example of how Cradlepoint helps customers with many unique challenges and needs. Cradlepoint’s NetCloud Service, the software at the heart of our solution, enables customers to make changes to the network centrally and remotely with ease. It also reduces the time and cost to deploy new services.”

Tas Bull Seafarers Foundation aims to expand the Seafarer Connect Initiative globally, working closely with the International Transport Workers’ Federation Seafarers Trust (ITFST) to protect seafarers’ rights and health.

Image: Robert Coombs, TBSF Chair, and Mike Gallacher, Ports Australia CEO, inspect the Cradlepoint unit.

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