Glacier Fish Case Study
Mitel replaces a legacy system and connects Glacier Fish with state-of-the-art VoIP
Improve ship-to-shore communications
Three years ago, Glacier Fish implemented highspeed mobile broadband via satellite and was looking to extend the company’s Mitel UC system out to the Pacific Glacier vessel to improve land-to-sea communications. Easy integration between the main office and the company’s ships
Glacier Fish had already worked with Mitel partner All Phase Communications to deploy a Mitel UC system in its main office. On every count – ease of use, support, technology, performance, cost, and reliability – Mitel was outstanding, according to Glacier Fish Technology Manager Jonathan Lockwood.
Local support is very important for Glacier Fish operations. “The Mitel system is so intuitive that I find I don’t use much support,” says Lockwood. “But All Phase is never far away, and they work closely with Mitel. For example, to ensure we have the bandwidth we need, Mitel and All Phase worked together to configure multiple SIP lines through the satellite link back to the main office.”
Mitel’s integration with Microsoft Outlook was another plus. While other systems could integrate, none proved as seamless as Mitel. “Mitel did this best of all straight out of the box,” explains Lockwood. “There was no additional integration work.”
Because ship space is limited, Lockwood also was impressed by Mitel’s small footprint. On discovering he could deploy the Mitel UC system for half the cost of the equipment the standard ship phone suppliers could offer, Lockwood was convinced that Mitel was the best choice.
Mitel’s comprehensive solution nets huge value
Glacier Fish’s Seattle office had handily deployed its Mitel UC system a year and a half earlier, so Lockwood wasn’t surprised at the speed and simplicity of the implementation on the freshly refurbished ship. “All Phase had the Mitel system configured before I got to the office,” explains Lockwood. “As soon as they finished configuring the SIP trunking, everything just worked. Not only was Mitel easy to deploy, it’s easy to make changes on the ship from my office in Seattle.”
Mitel buoys up efficiency on sea and land
With yields that can range from 140 to 200 tons in one day and razor-thin production margins, speedy communications are critical for Glacier Fish’s profitability. Now Glacier Fish staff can contact anyone, anyplace, anytime – gaining essential agility for responding to problems and changing market conditions.
Lockwood praises the exceptional voice quality delivered by Mitel Voice Switches, which dynamically negotiate with the Mitel IP Phones to compress voice traffic based on available bandwidth. This delivers optimal voice quality regardless of the device, as Lockwood learned using a Softphone from the Grand Aleutian hotel in Dutch Harbor, Alaska, with a weak network connection.
Glacier Fish configured each Mitel switch as a SIP device, arranged in one SIP trunk group. Calls from the ship go out through a VPN link to the satellite. “Mitel can use this limited bandwidth WAN link and still provide great sound quality,” Lockwood says. “Mitel also manages latency in these limited bandwidth conditions to minimize degradation of call quality.”
Using Mitel’s Operator Call Manager, receptionists can forward calls to anyone on the ship as easily as if they were in the same building. Not only does the system enable four-digit dialing among offices and the ship, but the Personal Call Manager and its seamless integration with Outlook simplifies call management.
“COMPARED TO OUR OLD SATELLITE PHONES, IT DOESN’T COST ANYTHING TO USE SHORETEL. TO START WITH, SHORETEL’S PURCHASE PRICE WAS HALF THAT QUOTED BY MARINE ELECTRONICS SUPPLIERS. AND BECAUSE CALLS GO OVER AN IP CONNECTION, GLACIER NO LONGER NEEDS SATELLITE PHONES WITH THEIR $1,000+ PRICE TAGS AND HIGH PER-MINUTE RATES – TYPICALLY $1 OR MORE.”
Jonathan Lockwood, Technology Manager
Mitel has also made the Pacific Glacier’s sizable crew safer and happier. In case of an injury, calls to medical emergency services and hospitals are fast and direct. Crew can be reached easily if there is a family emergency. “The bottom line is that Mitel really puts the ship in the office next door,” states Lockwood.
Mitel’s cost savings run deep
“Compared to our old satellite phones, it doesn’t cost anything to use Mitel,” says Lockwood. “To start with, Mitel’s purchase price was half that quoted by marine electronics suppliers. And because calls go over an IP connection, Glacier no longer needs satellite phones with their $1,000+ price tags and high per-minute rates – typically $1 or more. Further savings accrue because maintenance can be handled in-house.”
While it saves Glacier Fish money, Mitel also gives the company new flexibility – as a recent visitor to the Pacific Glacier learned to his happy surprise. “We were able to activate the guest’s phone right away. In the past, the same operation required sending a technician to the ship and paying travel costs and hourly labor rates. Now it takes 10 minutes and requires no one but our own on-board staff,” Lockwood explains.
Switch-based instead of server-based, Mitel has few moving parts, which adds to its reliability in a difficult environment and reduces maintenance costs. “Switches are more reliable than servers,” says Lockwood. “The lack of hard drives is a plus.”
Communications that leave the competition in Glacier’s wake
Mitel has given Glacier Fish an advantage that puts the company ahead of its peers. “These companies do not believe that Glacier Fish Company is able to deploy such good phone communications to our ships,” says Lockwood. “They don’t believe that you can pick up the phone, dial four digits, and set up a conference call between people in multiple locations of the ship, in the office, and the outside world all at the same time.”
Glacier Fish’s future plans include extending the Mitel system to other boats in its fleet and evaluating Mitel VPN phones to costeffectively extend communications to its smaller vessels. “I’m extremely happy with Mitel,” Lockwood concludes. “Nobody in our industry thought it could be done, but we got exactly what we wanted. The Mitel system just works. I’m waiting for the opportunity to put Mitel on our boat, the Alaska Ocean, the largest fishing vessel in the USA.”
“NOBODY IN OUR INDUSTRY THOUGHT IT COULD BE DONE, BUT WE GOT EXACTLY WHAT WE WANTED. THE SHORETEL SYSTEM JUST WORKS. I’M WAITING FOR THE OPPORTUNITY TO PUT SHORETEL ON OUR BOAT, THE ALASKA OCEAN, THE LARGEST FISHING VESSEL IN THE USA.”
A shipboard fire on the company’s Pacific Glacier catcher/processor required a complete rebuild and gave Glacier Fish the opportunity to successfully explore ship-to-shore communications with the latest VoIP technology from Mitel.
A Mitel Unified Communications (UC) system, including Mitel Voice Switches and Mitel IP Phones, connected the Pacific Glacier to headquarters in Seattle.
- Reduced communication costs
- Reduced equipment and maintenance expenses
- Crystal-clear voice quality
- Microsoft Outlook integration