Well, it’s been 3-4 years now enjoying a much reduced bill for use of the Inmarsat FleetBroadband internet service. In another article I detailed how, using prepaid data, you could cut way back on your cost to use this vital service. However, some changes from Inmarsat have dropped a bombshell once again on small vessel users and prepaid data users.
This past February 1, 2016 both of these programs have been canceled. Now, all new users of this service are forced to purchase a very expensive annual contract with high monthly charges. For existing users with valid SIMs you can continue to use these services until Inmarsat decides to cancel this usage too. A caveat however, if you let your SIM expire (I think 12 months without usage will do it) then you have to buy a new SIM and you will find yourself only having access to the annual contract.
This change from Inmarsat means there will be many sailors out there with very real safety-at-sea issues. The choice will come down to either pony up thousands a year in annual contract costs to be able to get a simple weather forecast offshore or sail blind hoping for the best.
As the most important provider for offshore internet service, this leaves little choice for the offshore sailors. You can try to download weather using the Iridium or iSatPhone (which doesn’t work well at all) or buy the vSat system which only works close to shore or go backwards in technology and purchase a SSB radio and packet modem.
With all monopolies, Inmarsat one day will be faced with real competition and all the unhappy customers of theirs will flock to anyone else who can provide this service.
I for one am tired of having to deal with a company that has such disdain for their customers. We’ve spent thousands to purchase the hardware and are locked into using them and no one else. How about treating us fairly???
If you enjoyed this article please feel free to share it!