Charting a new course for maritime industry digitalization
The international maritime industry is responsible for transporting 90 percent of world’s goods, from raw materials and food to beer and black cabs. Despite being so crucial to the world economy, the digitalization is lagging, the connectivity is slow and expensive, and only 10 percent have any kind of Internet access while at sea for their crew members. As a child, Serdar Sahin, Director of Product Management at Ericsson ONE, swam happily alongside these floating giants. Growing up in the Bosporus Strait – one of the world’s busiest and most dangerous shipping passages – Serdar has never shied away from a nautical challenge. Now, he found a way to help the maritime industry speed up its digitalization journey.
In one sentence, what is this new solution?
Maritime Mesh Network is a wireless network that provides high speed connectivity by creating a mesh network between vessels.
“Maritime Mesh Network is an innovative idea and will create significant benefits to near shore and regular vessel route area of vessel communication with better quality and economic cost," said Captain Matt Su, U-Ming Marine Department.
Futher validated by Informa Telecoms, the solution recently won the 2020 Glotel Awards for emerging technologies in the Telecoms Transformation category.
What challenges are you trying to solve with this platform?
Like many other industries today, the maritime industry is going through a major digital transformation. However, they’re lagging behind. As it stands, mobile satellite networks are the only means of communication for vessels at sea, and the speed is low, and the cost is very high. But invariably with digital transformation comes the need for high speed communication, as a lot of data needs to be transferred back and forth.
How does this solution solve this challenge?
Many vessels are at sea at any given time, and they are relatively close to each other. With Maritime Mesh Network, we can connect them together to create a mesh network. The general idea is you start with a few vessels at shore that are connected to terrestrial systems, whether that be LTE or 5G, and extend the mesh network to connect to other vessels further out to sea. Eventually, it becomes a big spider web, and it’s possible to provide every vessel with a reliable, high-speed Internet connection. This unlocks a world of opportunity for the industry. For example, the crew on land will be able to run remote operations and troubleshooting, and could use augmented reality to assist the people on deck in their work. It also makes it possible to run intelligent situational awareness systems, and stream live image feeds of the ocean around a given vessel from ship to ship so everyone can see what lies ahead.
Our vision for the future is that every entity at sea will be able to connect to the Internet using our solution, including cargo ships, tankers, cruise lines, fishing boats and pleasure vessels.
What’s the next step?
We’ve already developed our minimal viable product and we’re now launching a field trial with a customer. Within a month or so the trial will be complete, and we’ll move forward into the next commercial phase. So far, everything we designed went beyond our expectations in the lab environment, which is very encouraging.
We've also participated in the ENQCOR 5G Program for access to funding and partnered with Elits Canada for development. The ENQCOR 5G Program is focused on building an innovative 5G ecosystem in Canada. Elits Canada is a leading cloud-based IT infrastructure and digital transformation company.
What are the main benefits of developing the project within Ericsson ONE?
What drives you to be an intrapreneur?
As an intrapreneur, you still need a great and motivated team to work with, but you can guide the team’s vision and the course of the project. That’s a wonderful feeling.
You have the ability to envision and realize something from end-to-end, which is challenging but when you see it coming together piece by piece it’s so rewarding.
Meet the Team
No project can succeed without a great team. I get the pleasure of working with some very brilliant people across the world. I’d especially like to thank Lars Pedersen, the co-owner of the idea, Shunqi Luan, our CTO, and our phenomenal core team—Zhaohua Chen, Yanping Dang, Island Huang, Haibin LU and Jialu Zhang. Also, I'd like to say a special thank you to Lancelot Cheng and Mike Chou C for all the support and guidance they provided to the project and Debra Thai for awesome marketing. Together, we can tackle any challenge we’re faced with!
Originally from Istanbul, Serdar received his BA in Electrical and Computer Engineering in Turkey before moving to the US to complete his masters at the University of Maryland. Since graduating, Serdar’s focus has been on wireless and mobile satellite communications. He has now been with Ericsson for 13 years, and was one of Ericsson ONE’s first recruits. He also holds several patents in the telecommunications domain. In his spare time, Serdar plays sports and reads all timeless science books by Feynman, Sagan and others.