In a direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on seafarer well-being, Inmarsat has formalised a sweeping 50% discount for crew voice calling services available for up to 40,000 ships for three months until the end of June.
The leading maritime satellite service provider is also ensuring that calls made to the SeafarerHelp service provided by welfare organisation ISWAN (International Seafarers’ Welfare Assistance Network) are available free of charge over the same period. In addition, Inmarsat is working with crew healthcare specialist Vikand and software platform provider FrontM, to provide a free COVID-19 video call service with a trained health professional.
The voice call discount offer is available day and night from 2 Arpril for 3 months to Inmarsat retail customers using FleetBroadband ChatCard voice services and to wholesale partners offering FleetBroadband voice calls under the legacy Crew Calling “SQT” brand. Steps are also being taken to accelerate the launch of ChatCard services for Fleet Xpress, with an introductory discount.
“We recognise the unprecedented situation facing seafarers, as the global maritime industry responds to the challenges of COVID-19. The work of the maritime industry is more important than ever before, and essential to keeping global trade flowing and ensuring that vital supplies reach those in need,” says Ronald Spithout, President, Inmarsat Maritime.
“We have been providing free additional call time for ChatCard voice service users since February but we have also been talking and listening to shipowners and managers and long-standing partners such as ISWAN, Sailors’ Society, Seafarers UK, Mission to Seafarers and Apostleship of the Sea. It has become clear that, above all other forms of contact, being able to talk to family, friends and colleagues is critical for the health and well-being of seafarers during these difficult times,” Spithout continues.
He adds, “Today we are formalising the 50% discount for seafarer voice calls for three months. FleetBroadband retail customers are eligible immediately and even if they currently don’t use the ChatCard service, they can sign up today to provide the offer direct to their crews and we will make the process as easy as possible. We are also rolling this through to wholesale partners via our Crew Calling (SQT) service and strongly recommend they pass on the full saving to crew.”
Through Inmarsat retail channels, Spithout says the 50% discount is available to all users of the ChatCard service, which seafarers call upon for around 600,000 minutes every month. For reasons of transparency, he says that tariffs for services through wholesale channels may vary because partners negotiate call termination costs separately with local networks.
Having previously scheduled the launch of ChatCard services via Fleet Xpress later in 2020, Spithout says that every effort is now being made to fast-track its introduction. The move reflects Inmarsat’s determination that seafarers on the 8,500-plus Fleet Xpress-installed vessels, who can already get unlimited high-speed data services are assured that high voice call use does not bring any additional financial burden, Spithout says.
Inmarsat’s Fleet Xpress retail users will also be able to benefit immediately from the launch of a free of charge COVID-19 video call service with a trained health professional, especially developed with crew health management solutions provider Vikand and software platform provider FrontM to help shipping cope with the impact of the crisis.
“This is a pro bono offer over our dedicated bandwidth service, Fleet Connect, from one of our Certified Application Provider partners. It allows the Master or Chief Officer to connect by video call to a trained health professional from Vikand offering real-time advice on the coronavirus, its symptoms and what to look out for. This is not a clinical care or emergency service, but it is a vital information resource to help crew at a difficult time for everyone. This will initially be rolled out for our Fleet Xpress retail base, but we are very keen to provide this for our wholesale partners and will be reaching out to them over the next week on how this can be implemented,” Spithout concludes.