OnAir to launch mobile at sea

OnAir, provider of inflight communications, has launched full mobile phone connectivity – including GSM & GPRS – for Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ flagship MS EUROPA with OnAir’s Mobile technology. The launch, with a cruise of the Baltic Sea, marks an extension of OnAir’s business into a new and promising business sector, and underlines the versatility of OnAir’s technology in being able to use various types of satellite links.

OnAir’s technological partners, Siemens IT Solutions and Services and TriaGnoSys, developed technology to enable passengers and crew to use their own mobile phones and Smartphones (iPhone, Blackberry, HTC, etc). The GSM service uses satellite communications, making connectivity possible regardless of the ship’s location. Siemens IT Solutions and Services supplied, installed and will maintain the software and hardware supporting OnAir’s technology.

“We’re delighted to be providing Hapag-Lloyd Cruises with the very latest in communications technology, giving its passengers the freedom to stay connected while at sea,” said Ian Dawkins, chief executive officer of OnAir. “With Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ passengers voyaging to destinations like the Baltics, Polynesia and New Zealand, today’s launch really does underline OnAir’s position as the only truly global communications provider of voice, data and Internet both in the air and on the oceans,” he added.

“Our commitment is to provide travellers with the very highest quality of service onboard of our cruise liners. The latest mobile technology provided by OnAir is absolutely in line with Hapag-Lloyd’s Five Star ranking for service and excellence,” said Paul Goldbeck, manager IT/QM of Hapag-Lloyd Cruises.

Axel Jahn, managing director of TriaGnoSys, said: “Our expertise is in enabling communications where terrestrial infrastructures are out of reach, for example on ships or planes, and indeed TriaGnoSys technology has been used to provide GSM and GPRS services for airline passengers for over two and a half years. We specialise in efficient bandwidth use, increasing the number of simultaneous calls available at the same time as reducing satellite costs, expertise that is now available to the maritime market.”

The installation, which uses the ship’s existing Ku-band satellite antenna, is a simple process that can be carried out during a routine maintenance stop between cruises. The software developed by Siemens and TriaGnoSys uses compression technology to make very efficient use of the available bandwidth.

MS EUROPA is the only cruise liner in the world to have been awarded the coveted 5-star plus distinction by the Berlitz Cruise Guide since its commissioning in 1999. It accommodates a maximum of 408 guests in over 200 suites, and 280 officers and crew, while visiting destinations on all five continents.

OnAir is already offering passengers of more than 25 airlines and VIP & Governmental operators voice, e-mail, text services and Internet access, on flights over four continents by using the latest SwiftBroadband Inmarsat L-band technology.

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