Tales about Aviation, Coaching, Farming, Software Development

Cheap programmers on a ship anchoring off the coast of California

When I first read this today I had to think of it as a joke, but today is not April 1st and it seems to be real. Check out this article. There is a company that wants to buy a ship, anchor it off the coast of California and hire cheap programmers from India or Eastern Europe and have them work there for US companies at low salaries like $1,800 a month.

What's the point of this? Apparently the idea is to bring those people near the clients, but avoid all those complicated visa procedures for entering the US legally. Instead of applying for H1-B visas the company just let the ship stay in international waters.

What about telecommunication? The only way to connect the ship to the Internet or even the phone system is by satellite or maybe some radio link to the coast. International waters start 12 nautical miles off the coast. That's not too far away, but of course the ship moves and most high-speed broadcasts expect a fixed antenna on the other side. Wimax might be a solution. Either way the need for some suitable telecommunication will increase the cost and probably render the whole idea useless, because the link has to be quite stable. It doesn't make sense these days to have a few hundred programmers write code in isolation.

My personal guess is that this idea will never take off. The only benefit it offers is to have cheap workers close to the client, but there is a lot of risk involved. And usually a few good developers get done more than numerous cheap coders who would accept to live on a ship anchored off the coast of California.

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