The aim of the ESEMAR project is to increment the information flow between all those in the maritime travel or tourism organisations and the people working, voyaging or cruising aboard vessels. ESEMAR can be thought of as an overlay network built to deliver content and allow access to a distributed audience. The actors with respect to this content distribution network can be grouped as follows:
- Companies or organisations wishing to offer information or market their travel and tourism products to a wide, geographically distributed audience.
- Individual travellers or organisations searching for information or interested in booking everything they need online.
Basically, the idea is to provide connectivity and value added services on top of an already existing satellite communication infrastructure provided by the Evolv-e platform.
This innovative solution will offer a suite of multimedia networking services that have been categorised as follows:
- Fast Internet 7 Thematic Interactive Channel
- Multimedia Content Delivery
- Symmetric Conference
- Telephone/fax over IP
Two principal market segments are being considered: cruise lines and ferry lines. There is a third interesting market segment, which is Yacht/Mega Yacht that is being addressed in other projects.
- To provide multimedia IP services on top of the existing satellite communication infrastructure provided by the Evolv-e platform.
- To introduce low-cost stabilisation systems for the antennas in the ESEMAR service architecture. The technology allows users aboard to take advantage of the services already available to fixed ground terminals.
- To provide cost-effective, one or two-way, fast Internet access solutions.
The choice for the return channel will determine the nature of the communication link:
- High rate return channel (HRS), over 300 Kbit/s: This means a satellite 2-way DVB-RCS communication system
- Low rate return channel (LRS): for low interaction terminals, where the baseline is defined by a one-way Ku-band stabilised antenna for the downlink.
A few simple ideas which make all the difference:
- ESEMAR architecture provides vertical solutions: to fulfil all requirements relating to communications, of a general and specific kind, in a marine environment.
- Performance: receiving speed of up to 38.5 Mbps, unbeatable in multicast and broadcast applications thanks to its very flexible band allocation.
- Ample coverage and possible expansion of satellite capacity: transmission via Eutelsat satellites at 70 and 130 East, with the possibility of expanding assigned capacity.
- Best-Partner Approach: consultancy and joint development of services, System Integration, technological development, Co-Marketing Program, Full Maintenance and Help Desk.
- High Value Added Services, transforming ideas into new business opportunities: a full-featured suite of all advanced and multimedia IP services available for tourism organisations and ship owners.
- Time to market: because Evolv-e is easy to install and integrate with legacy systems, it starts to generate business value straight away.
- Modular and flexible solutions: to ensure that the offer is perfectly suited to customers' real needs, without obliging them to up- or down-size.
A top level description of the ESEMAR System consists of the following elements:
- The ESEMAR Services Provisioning Platform (Evolv-e).
- The ESEMAR Content Engine.
- The ESEMAR Points of Service.
The Services Provisioning Platform (SPP) relies on the Evolv-e platform which consists of hardware and software (applications, OS, network equipment, enterprise servers, storage) components that support the service provisioning. Basically the SPP can be seen as a provisioning infrastructure which integrates main functions (Services) and support components (Infrastructure Services) in order to provide services to its end-users. The user, once the satellite connection is established, will access the services through a Web Portal. The Portal, being the front-end for the incoming users' requests, has to clearly communicate information and options regarding the ESEMAR project, the available services, the involved Customers and partners. The Services provided by the SPP can be categorised as:
- Basic Services The usual common services offered by ISPs, i.e. Internet access.
- Value Added Services. These are the ESEMAR Services, they are offered to provide additional value both to end-users and potential customers.
The ESEMAR Content Engine is in charge of handling the sources of content such as the tourist and travel organisations, media companies and local authorities. The Point of Service (POS) to be deployed will feature alternative technical solutions for the return channel which can be summarised as follows:
- 2-way on board POS configuration: this deploys Fullsat-bidirectional satellite equipment.
- One-way on board POS configuration: this deploys a one-way satellite terminal configuration designed for high performance services with low-level interactions
- ground POS configuration, provided with a one-way satellite system, where the return channel is
- Service Requirements & Architecture Definition, i.e., define contents to be delivered, architecture of services, specify upgrading of existing software. This phase is closed with the BDR.
- Pilot Preparation & Execution, i.e., upgrade software, integrate satellite return channel system, develop contents, integrate components at system level. This phase is closed with the PSV.
- Pilot Services Deployment, i.e., install System components at the operational sites selected to operate the ESEMAR Services and run experiments in pre-operational mode. This phase is closed with the MTR.
- Pilot Operations and Strategic Plan Consolidation, i.e., operate ESEMAR Services, finalize market analysis and business plan. This phase is closed at the FR.
The operations are conducted in cooperation with TIRRENIA, a major shipowner and sailing group providing its services within the main Mediterranean routes. TIRRENIA is cooperating as a friend-user in the evaluation of the ESEMAR services.
The scenario for the operations of the ESEMAR services is currently based on one ship - Janas - a ferry connecting Genova to Olbia and Arbatax (Sardinia). This ship can accommodate, with the highest environmental standards of cruise ships, up to 2,700 passengers and 900 cars. Overnight sailings last approximately 9 hours. Sardinia is an island, and a region of Italy; it is located just south of the Island of Corsica in the Tyrrhenian Sea.
- Telespazio is negotiating with Tirrenia (Project Sponsor) to reach an agreement in order to deliver Esemar services on board vessels.
- A new service is under development to expand the voice capabilities of Esemar solutions using the existing infrastructures on board. Therefore an agreement has been signed with the French Company Geolink to provide GSM connectivity on board the "Janas" vessel using the ESEMAR antenna.
- Business contacts have also been made with some Greek operators in order to explore new market opportunities (shipping segment) for Esemar services.