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Friday, April 3, 2020 

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 satellite service provider is making calls to the SeafarerHelp service provided by welfare organisation ISWAN (International Seafarers’ Welfare Assistance Network) 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 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 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,” said 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."

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.

The free COVID-19 video call service allows the Master or Chief Officer to connect by video call for real-time advice on the coronavirus, its symptoms and what to look out for. "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,” said Spithout.

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