DOI: 10.3390/network3040025 ISSN: 2673-8732

Maritime Communications—Current State and the Future Potential with SDN and SDR

Nadia Niknami, Avinash Srinivasan, Ken St. Germain, Jie Wu
  • Critical Care Nursing
  • Pediatrics

The rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) has opened up exciting possibilities for new applications. One such novel application is the modernization of maritime communications. Effective maritime communication is vital for ensuring the safety of crew members, vessels, and cargo. The maritime industry is responsible for the transportation of a significant portion of global trade, and as such, the efficient and secure transfer of information is essential to maintain the flow of goods and services. With the increasing complexity of maritime operations, technological advancements such as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs), and the Internet of Ships (IoS) have been introduced to enhance communication and operational efficiency. However, these technologies also bring new challenges in terms of security and network management. Compromised IT systems, with escalated privileges, can potentially enable easy and ready access to operational technology (OT) systems and networks with the same privileges, with an increased risk of zero-day attacks. In this paper, we first provide a review of the current state and modalities of maritime communications. We then review the current adoption of software-defined radios (SDRs) and software-defined networks (SDNs) in the maritime industry and evaluate their impact as maritime IoT enablers. Finally, as a key contribution of this paper, we propose a unified SDN–SDR-driven cross-layer communications framework that leverages the existing SATCOM communications infrastructure, for improved and resilient maritime communications in highly dynamic and resource-constrained environments.

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