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Commercial phase begins for High-Speed eCommerce aboard Canadian ferries

20 Oct 2005

The ESA Telecom supported project Marine eCommerce Applications (MeCA) from the Canadian company Telesat has entered a commercial phase with 5 vessels now offering a host of e-commerce services to passengers.

Numerous services such as high speed wireless Internet access, Automated Teller Machines (ATM), and Voice over IP (VoIP) are now being offered to the travelling public and crew.

 

By using one common infrastructure, MeCA is also a relatively low-cost solution, and first impressions from users of the services are positive. 'Ease of use' was key in achieving this level of satisfaction. The platforms have been adapted based on earlier input from users

Kiosks on M.V. Joseph
and Clara Smallwood

 


ATM on M.V. Joseph and Clara Smallwood

So far the banking services have proved to be the most popular. Security issues are resolved by encrypting the banking data. As the public and crew become more familiar with the available services interest will increase.

The number of potential users for the services is huge. Passengers and crew are often confined to the vessels for long periods. In 2002, Marine Atlantic vessels carried 528,975 passengers on two ferry routes. The first, a 96-nautical mile route throughout the year and another 280-nautical mile route operated in the summer.

They operate three ocean going passenger vessels including the largest Canadian passenger ferries. All three vessels are currently equipped with Ku-band.


M.V. Joseph and Clara Smallwood from Marine Atlantic from Canada

Two ships from the Woodward Group of Companies carry the MeCA services. The Sir Robert Bond (image below left) carries 250 passengers with crossing times of up to 43 hours.

 

M.V. Sir Robert Bond

M.V. Northern Ranger

The Commercialisation of the service began after these ferry operators decided that providing access to eCommerce applications would provide them with a new revenue source and increase customer satisfaction.
 

Infosat capacity aboard Anik F2

Infosat is providing the hub and operating and maintaining the radio frequency (RF) and the base band systems on the five vessels. Infosat is using its pool of Ku-band transponders leased from Telesat on the Anik F2 satellite.

"We're very pleased to see that one year after completion of the contract with ESA, the MeCA initiative is up and running on a purely commercial basis. This proves that the perspectives backing this challenging Applications project were sound and realistic," explains Francesco Feliciani of ESA Telecom on why MeCA has become such a success.

Abdul Lakhani of Telesat Canada stated, "The support we received from ESA Telecom meant that Telesat was able to prove the viability of satellite technology to support eCommerce applications and explore business opportunity. The MeCA project has shown that satellite technology can be adapted to different environments including marine opening new business opportunities for satellite service providers."

To read more about MeCA or its forerunner MIST click under related links at the top-right of this page.


Images courtesy of MeCA project team

 


Last Update: 03 Jul 2008
 
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