Marine fishermen risk their lives when they go as far as 120 km from the shore on a fishing trip lasting 5-7 days. They are completely cut off from the mainland. Cellular coverage exists only up to 12-15 km from the shore. In emergency situations, the fishermen have no way to call for help. Even under normal conditions, prolonged isolation from their family and friends causes mental depression. Since the marine fishermen are not economically well off especially in the developing countries, there has not been much commercial interest in addressing this problem. It is not seen as a profitable business proposition. However, addressing this problem will benefit the marine fishermen community immensely. Our center conducted interviews with several fishermen to understand this problem and came up with a cost-effective solution. The solution enables the fishermen to use the smart phones which they own already to get internet at sea using Wi-Fi. The Access Point (AP) on the boat connects over Ethernet to an onboard gateway to long range Wi-Fi backhaul network. The onshore base station is installed on a tower at a height of 50-60 m. Boats are also used as mobile base stations to extend the range of the network. This solution, when tested over the Arabian Sea, provided a range of 40+ km in the first hop and 20+ km every subsequent hop. This network can be operated on a cooperative community basis by the fishermen community at reasonable per capita CAPEX and OPEX. A pilot deployment is in progress in a coastal village community in Kerala, India, to gain operational experience.
S. N. Rao, Dr. Maneesha V. Ramesh, and Rangan, V., “Mobile infrastructure for coastal region offshore communications and networks”, in Global Humanitarian Technology Conference (GHTC), 2016, 2016.