Cisco Low-Latency Wireless Helps Enhance Malta Freeport Terminals’ Productivity

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Updated:March 18, 2021

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Updated:March 18, 2021

Table of Contents


Executive Summary

Customer Name: Malta Freeport Terminals Limited

Industry: Transportation (Shipping)

Location: Malta

Number of Employees: 772


  Needed to connect on-the-move assets for a growing container terminal
  Needed faster data speeds
  Required extremely low latency and zero packet loss over long distances


  Cisco® Ultra-Reliable Wireless Backhaul (formerly Fluidmesh) for an Operational Technology (OT) environment


  Scalable connectivity that uses existing networking equipment
  Achieve data speeds of 50 to 60 Mbps
  Low latency and zero packet loss over a 600- to 800-meter distance

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Modern shipping

Malta Freeport Terminals is a premiere transshipment hub with over 30 years’ experience in the shipping industry. Located in the heart of the Mediterranean, the Freeport is the ideal shipping lines’ strategic partner at the crossroads of the world’s greatest maritime routes.

Malta Freeport is now a full-fledged state-of-the-art terminal, offering operational deep-water quays of 2,463 meters with a water depth of 17 meters. It’s equipped with 20 quayside cranes, also known as Ship-To-Shore (STS) cranes, 65 Rubber-Tyred Gantry cranes (RTGs), and various ancillary yard equipment.

The Freeport recently purchased two megamax cranes, ordered from leading manufacturer Liebherr Container Cranes for €20 million, which will be assembled on site and installed by the summer 2021. Featuring environmental credentials and outstanding technological specifications, these cranes can operate 23,000 Twenty-foot Equivalent Units (TEU) vessels spanning 72 meters, an air draft of 54 meters, and twin-lift spreader capability. The facility provides the highest level of service to clients that is both cost-effective and efficient, and has ample capability to handle the world’s largest vessels with a capacity in excess of 23,000 TEUs simultaneously at both terminals.

Automation and digitalization are also at the forefront of the Freeport’s activities to further boost its competitive edge within the Mediterranean transshipment market. The Freeport’s prime focus is to constantly strive to surpass its clients’ long-term expectations and continue reaping fruitful results.

A reliable, low-latency solution for on-the-move assets

For secure, reliable day-to-day operations, the Freeport needed a solution in the container terminals to improve wireless backhaul. To effectively meet such demand, Malta Freeport implemented Cisco Ultra-Reliable Wireless Backhaul (formerly Fluidmesh). The solution offers wireless connectivity and seamlessly integrates all the port’s on-the-move assets including the quayside cranes, RTGs, and yard equipment.

Implementing a low-latency roaming wireless backbone allows for necessary asset connectivity, which helps to improve productivity at the port. Low latency is also required to enable real-time applications—a critical process for Malta Freeport Terminals. With this wireless communication, assets can move freely.

Malta Freeport Terminals’ Head of IT Jesmond Baldacchino said, “We performed trials with four suppliers. Several tests were conducted, including stress tests and data speeds, and we placed several cameras to simulate high-speed throughput. After several tests, it was established that we could use Cisco wireless backhaul technology to achieve data speeds of 50 to 60 Mbps with extremely low latency and zero packet loss, over a distance of 600 to 800 meters. One of the most significant features is the potential to scale the system.”

A private Long-Term Evolution (LTE) network was considered but found to be unfeasible because of the higher costs and incompatibility with current equipment. Cisco Ultra-Reliable Wireless Backhaul enables the terminals to use their existing equipment with much higher effectiveness.

Baldacchino added, “A public LTE solution was also discarded, as it would have involved a high risk of network lag. Zero latency cannot be achieved with LTE, because the signal makes several ‘hops’ on its journey, drastically increasing the risk of failure. We created the backbone with Cisco wireless backhaul technology, and that allowed us to continue using our current network.”

The journey ahead

Baldacchino said the port originally intended to use Cisco wireless backhaul technology only on quayside cranes but later discovered that the solution also offered great potential for supporting the RTGs fleet as well. Cisco technology complements the port’s IoT and big data projects currently underway. With Cisco IoT, the port can also have full wireless coverage in areas that were previously challenging to cover.


“Cisco IoT gives Malta Freeport the wireless connectivity and scalability we need to stay competitive in the shipping industry,” Baldacchino said. “An IoT solution like Cisco Ultra-Reliable Wireless Backhaul is what helps shipping ports like ours continue to support and grow our operational technology environment.”




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