Skip to main content
18 April 2024

When things get fishy in Gintelberg! How mobile PBX from the cloud helped a business stay afloat.

The town of Gintelberg’s fishing fleet had for a long time been all at sea when it came to its telecoms infrastructure, which simply wasn’t fit for purpose. Fortunately, the fleet found a communications solution that met the needs of a successful business with some very particular challenges to overcome – leveraging mobile PBX delivered from the cloud to access the enterprise communications services it needs. Benefiting from native mobile, the fleet transformed its operations.

In recent months (and blogs) we’ve become familiar with the world of small and medium-sized enterprises – and in particular the communications challenges they face – in the Norwegian town of Gintelberg. We’ve discovered how lawyers and the local shoe shop; takeaway restaurant chefs and sports team owners solve a common problem.

In this blog, we’re going to leave all that behind (well, some of it, anyway) and take to the water! Let’s board one of the vessels that makes up the town’s fishing fleet. As we’ll discover, access to communications functionality is just as critical on the waves as it is on dry land. First, though, a bit of background.

In Gintelberg (indeed, in Norway generally) fishing is pretty big business, relevant to us because Gintelberg is a port, and its neighbouring coastline hosts an abundance of natural resources. Norwegian waters are rich with Atlantic cod and salmon, haddock, halibut, pollock, and mackerel. According to food research institute Nofima[1] the national fishing industry has a total of value of NOK 23.9 billion. The industry employs around 14,000 people. In short, fishing is big business.

The Gintelberg fleet

In Gintelberg, the local fleet (comprised of over a dozen boats) is active in what’s called “nearshore” (as opposed to offshore or deep sea) fishing. Nearshore fishing takes place relatively close to the shoreline, typically up to around 20 kilometres off the coast. Since these areas are characterised by waters generally less than 30 meters deep, Gintelberg’s commercial fishing fleet is comprised mainly of smaller vessels and targets its catch around mackerel, flounder, trout, and bass – all present in quantity in the region – using both live and cut bait as well as various artificial lures to draw in the fish.

Maritime rules

The fleet is, of course, subject to maritime rules, a set of regulations that govern the operation of vessels and maritime activities in any given jurisdiction (in this case, Norway). For the most part, these rules cover issues like safety, navigation, environmental regulations, licensing and certification, harbour laws, and fisheries rules.

While they don’t directly regulate communications and communications systems, they do often include requirements related to equipment on vessels. This is to ensure that fleets have the necessary systems to operate safely and effectively in offshore environments. While the fleet’s commercial telecommunications solution isn’t thus strictly regulated by maritime rules, it does need to be compliant with any basic requirements.

The commercial aspect

With this operating landscape (or seascape) in mind, what are the commercial communications challenges the Gintelberg fleet faces? There are several, and they can impact fleet management, safety, and communication with onshore stakeholders. They include:

  • Coverage areas – even fishing nearshore, connectivity must be taken into account when choosing a solution. For instance, one that relies on Internet connectivity which may not be available offshore won’t be sufficient. For fishing fleets, both access and reliability are key.
  • Cost effectiveness – further offshore, fleets may be forced to rely on satellite communications systems, but these are expensive and impractical for an enterprise like Gintelberg’s fleet. So, its telecommunications solution must be both reliable (nearshore) and economically viable.
  • Integration with other systems – and in fishing, there are lots of them: weather interfaces, navigational aids, electronic monitoring devices, even fish finding applications may need to be integrated with the telecommunications system.
  • Safety/emergency communications – reliability again. Gintelberg’s fleet must be able to communicate quickly and effectively with emergency or medical authorities should the need to do so arise.
  • Commercial requirements – the fleet’s “on boat” team (its fishermen) need to co-ordinate with both its shore workers who offload and process the catch and its customers (wholesalers and retailers) on an ongoing basis, updating them on arrival times, catch loads, fish availability, and so on. Beyond the fishing, the product needs to be managed in a stringent process to maximize its commercial value.

Fishing for a telecommunications solution

So, what was the right telecommunications solution for Gintelberg’s nearshore fishing fleet? To find out, let’s consider the answer in terms of its specific challenges.

For a start, the fleet operates in multiple, somewhat unusual locations. While nearshore and thus within mobile range, business isn’t conducted in a typical urban communications hub environment but, at least partially, in a remote one.

Furthermore, the key stakeholders who need to remain in contact with each other are widely distributed; the fishermen on the boats, another team at quayside, and stakeholders ranging from fleet management to end customers both in the port and the town itself. That amounts to a lot of moving parts who’ve traditionally operated using their own (unlinked) mobile phones that need to be reliably in contact with each other most of the time.

What the fishing operation really needed was a proven enterprise infrastructure which could function across all locations, tie the moving parts together seamlessly, provide improved functionality (since personal mobiles have little if any access to enterprise services) and perhaps most importantly in a maritime situation, would perform reliably. The solution would also need to be versatile, for instance making it easy to add and subtract lines as – you can easily imagine – in Norway the business of fishing is seasonal.

It quickly became obvious that a mobile native Cloud PBX solution would the best – and most cost effective – way to meet the fleet’s needs. Yes, the vessels had to be equipped with safety-critical communications channels and for radio contact with onshore support services, like the harbour master, port authorities and coastguard – but the crew and their colleagues also needed to handle everyday communication.

For example, local restaurants wanted to place orders based on availability. Since the catch changes from day to day, allowing buyers to contact the onshore team – and for this to check what’s being caught with those at sea would help make managing stocks and quickly selling what had been captured much easier.

Similarly, communicating within the group could be expedited by creating small groups, enabling multi-party conversations and colleagues to be consulted. Likewise, allowing calls from customers to be handled via an IVR and selection options meant that fewer calls would be missed or routed to voicemail.

Most importantly, in an active environment, mobile communications is the only effective option available – but what the team needed was a solution that delivered enterprise functions across the mobile network and to the devices held by each member.

Upfront costs would be minimal compared to the alternatives (and in a tight margin business like fishing, that matters), as well as easily being able to deliver the sort of enterprise communications functionality to which access was required.

The fleet also, given the geographies involved, needed a Cloud PBX that would be reliable offshore – using the available mobile connectivity, be it 5G, 4G or even 2G. Evaluating the alternatives on the market, all roads led to the local MVNO, whose Cloud OBX offering uses the voice service of the mobile network - and which thus may be data or circuit switched –, so it would perform even when there was only a 2G or EDGE signal, which can be the case at the limits of the fleet’s fishing range.

The MVNO uses the Cloud PBX from the eponymous supplier – Gintel. The access that the Gintel system would provide to new communication tools would be a game-changer in terms of managing fleet and commercial operations more efficiently! Gone would be the problem of multiple, individually owned mobile devices providing minimal features to be replaced by a modern, enterprise capable hub!

With the Gintel Cloud PBX, the fleet could leverage features like voicemail, call forwarding, auto-attendants, hunt groups, conference calling – and more. These would help to keep the business on track and the stakeholders informed, all of which make for better commercial outcomes.  

Plus, there’s no worry about consistent access; Gintel’s Cloud PBX has built-in redundancy and reliability features that ensure it remains operational even in the event of a hardware failure or other issues.  Even better, productivity would increase, as the fishermen are now able to use their smartphones or tablets as extensions of the fleet’s central phone system. This means the whole crew, on land and at sea, can work together more efficiently.

Fishing with Gintel

Gintel helps operators succeed in highly competitive markets, achieving differentiation for their business service portfolio. Our telecommunications heritage, know-how and experience are backed by a track record of delivering successful solutions to Tier 1 operators, MVNOs, ISPs and Systems Integrators.

We enable our customers to stay at the forefront of service innovation in a rapidly moving market, offering agility and flexibility and delivering profit for their business. 

[1] https://nofima.com/results/new-report-shows-the-norwegian-fishing-industry-is-key-for-employment/

Latest posts

Microservices: Business/Private Line

Call pickup: another step forward for SoHo customers and their service providers

Multi-device support/twinning

How do you protect your B2B VAS services if you have to change your IMS?

When things get fishy in Gintelberg! How mobile PBX from the cloud helped a business stay afloat.

Tags

Who are we?

Learn more about Gintel and what we do

Want to learn more about Gintel, our mission and our technology