Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

GSM module provides least-cost routing for vessel tracking system

Steve Rogerson
December 17, 2014
A GSM module developed for the recently launched Rockfleet vessel tracking system adds least-cost routing functionality via terrestrial networks, giving users the opportunity to transmit position data via Iridium globally and switch to terrestrial networks when in range.

Launched in September 2014, Rock Seven’s latest Iridium-based satellite tracking system now provides greater cost control with the ability to send position reports to the shore office using GSM data when in range. The GSM functionality is a factory fitted option that does not change the size of the unit.

“We continue to develop new capabilities for Rockfleet based on customer requests and market trends,” said Nick Farrell, director of Rock Seven. “The GSM module can reduce operational costs by switching to cheaper mobile networks but it also gives access to more bandwidth than available offshore, so it can facilitate increased usage of Rockfleet position data transmission, two-way messaging or M2M applications, without increasing costs.”

It has no additional antenna for GSM use and can be supplied with a global roaming GSM sim, or users can choose to install their own sim from their preferred provider. In addition to enabling least-cost routing of data – GSM when inshore and Iridium when offshore – users can take advantage of the increased throughput at a lower cost on GSM to send more data, more often. This is especially relevant for the efficiency of coastal and inland vessels, considering the recent introduction of an M2M data module for Rockfleet and its potential telemetry and automation applications.

With user-definable position reports or short text messages from anywhere in the world costing as little as £0.03, Rockfleet is already competitive for vessel and fleet tracking, and low cost two-way messaging at sea.

Though focused on operational costs, the rugged tracking device is designed for maritime use. With no annual contract and pay-as-you-go use, it is designed to simplify and reduce the cost of single vessel and entire fleet tracking, helping ship-owners increase safety and efficiency through improved fleet management. It provides pole-to-pole global position data using the Iridium Short Burst Data (SBD) capability.

Rockfleet claims to be the only GPS vessel tracking device with an internal battery back-up, which lets it continue to transmit position for up to two weeks if external power is cut. The facility to mount it covertly makes it especially suitable for vessels traversing piracy hotspots.