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Old 16-10-2014, 19:38   #1
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Class E AIS

Has anyone heard of this? I just saw an article in BoatUS Seaworthy (Oct. 2014). Does anybody else think this is a bad idea?
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Old 16-10-2014, 19:56   #2
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Re: Class E AIS

The Panbo article back in August 2012 made it sound like a good idea with a lot of upside.

What did the BoatUS article say about it?
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Old 16-10-2014, 20:16   #3
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Re: Class E AIS

The class e "project" has been funded by a DHS grant with the primary purpose of tracking you for law enforcement purposes.

It does not broadcast over VHF, so #1 it is less useful for collision avoidance because other ships mostly will not see you and there is often an "internet lag" and #2 SAR cannot home in on you.

If you want AIS, get a class b.
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Old 21-10-2014, 05:54   #4
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Re: Class E AIS

There is no international class called AIS CLASS-E. This is a USA Department of Homeland Security vessel tracking system. If you are willing to buy an expensive Smartphone, get an expensive data package, and load up and run the "free App", then the Department of Homeland Security will be glad to get the data about your vessel movement and store it in their database.

There seems to be too much willing cooperation in the boating press in the USA to obscure the real purpose of this "free App". Yes, they give you some other features in the "free App", but they don't mention the real purpose or who is providing the funding for the "free App."
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Old 21-10-2014, 10:06   #5
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Re: Class E AIS

My concern is by using the name AIS it could give the illusion that it is really AIS and participates in the overall AIS system for collision avoidance. But the reality is that the cell phone position information is often not precise and the age of the data is not well controlled. So as an anti collision aid it is nearly useless and could give unsuspecting users a false sense that they can see and be seen by other vessels. I think BoatUS tried to tell their readers this in a "too nice" way. Maybe I am wrong but my opinion is this thing should not be called AIS if it doesn't cooperate with all of the AIS system.

Homeland Security can surely track the location of all cell phones even without this app so I don't understand what their need really is?
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Old 21-10-2014, 19:49   #6
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Re: Class E AIS

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.....

Homeland Security can surely track the location of all cell phones even without this app so I don't understand what their need really is?
The app doesn't require a subpoena.
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Old 23-10-2014, 06:27   #7
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Re: Class E AIS

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The app doesn't require a subpoena.
That is a very cogent and acute observation.
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Old 23-10-2014, 12:48   #8
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Re: Class E AIS

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The app doesn't require a subpoena.
Neither does class A or B AIS data.
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Old 23-10-2014, 12:54   #9
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Re: Class E AIS

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Neither does class A or B AIS data.
Yes, but they at least give you 'real' AIS capability; which class E does not.
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Old 23-10-2014, 13:00   #10
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Re: Class E AIS

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Yes, but they at least give you 'real' AIS capability; which class E does not.
That's already been stated, thus my further comparison to class A and B. If one is truly worried about DHS tracking you with class E, don't bother with class A or B either.
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Old 23-10-2014, 17:19   #11
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Re: Class E AIS

^^ mmmm . . . . Of course you are right that if you have an overriding concern with DHS tracking, and for you that outweighs any possible benefit from AIS, then you should not get any of these. DHS does in fact have a private contractor capturing all AIS tracks in US waters and storing them 'forever'.

But my point was if you look at it as a 'cost benefit' trade-off:
with A&B you get the benefits of 'real' AIS with the cost of DHS tracking, while with E you don't get 'real' AIS but still the cost of DHS tracking. So you may well (I do) see some net value and reason to buy to A&B, but not E.
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Old 23-10-2014, 20:32   #12
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Re: Class E AIS

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^^ mmmm . . . . Of course you are right that if you have an overriding concern with DHS tracking, and for you that outweighs any possible benefit from AIS, then you should not get any of these. DHS does in fact have a private contractor capturing all AIS tracks in US waters and storing them 'forever'.

But my point was if you look at it as a 'cost benefit' trade-off:
with A&B you get the benefits of 'real' AIS with the cost of DHS tracking, while with E you don't get 'real' AIS but still the cost of DHS tracking. So you may well (I do) see some net value and reason to buy to A&B, but not E.
It depends on how much one wants to spend on AIS. There are a lot of people who don't have and may never buy a class A or B AIS system. For those who don't want to spend that much, an app on a smartphone or tablet that they already own is free and will allow them to see class A and B vessels, so they're getting quite a bit for no cost.

For those who don't want to spend a penny, at least they could see class A, B and E users for free. Yes, it's not an entirely free lunch, since DHS could be tracking, but they're tracking all modes of AIS, so AIS is not an option for anyone afraid of being tracked.
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Old 23-10-2014, 22:43   #13
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Re: Class E AIS

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It depends on how much one wants to spend on AIS...
The marginal cost of adding an AIS receiver is very small. There are several modern VHF Marine Band radios that include an AIS receiver for an incremental cost of about $100. That cost is about the cost of one month of wireless data plan service. It is very hard to justify using the "free App" method if you consider the true costs of the data plan and Smartphone that are needed.
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Old 24-10-2014, 01:45   #14
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Re: Class E AIS

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The marginal cost of adding an AIS receiver is very small. There are several modern VHF Marine Band radios that include an AIS receiver for an incremental cost of about $100. That cost is about the cost of one month of wireless data plan service. It is very hard to justify using the "free App" method if you consider the true costs of the data plan and Smartphone that are needed.
My unlimited wireless plan is $40/mo, and I will always have a wireless plan with data of some sort, so in my case, and I think in many cases, there really is no additional charge. There are few people in this world who don't have a wireless plan and a smart phone or tablet. I don't personally know anyone without both.

You mention incremental cost, but that assumes that one needs to buy a VHF marine radio anyways. Since all boats should already have a VHF radio, only those who need to replace a failed unit could reasonably say it's only an extra $100. The reality is a VHF radio with DSC and AIS is going to cost $350 and up.

I would personally buy a full featured VHF transceiver with DSC and class B AIS, but there are bound to be some weekend sailors who day sail and don't want to replace their still working VHF radio and own a smart phone. On paper at least, class E with A and B displayed on a smartphone or tablet for free is going to be pretty tempting.

Between 10,000 and 50,000 people have installed Smart Charts, so there are at least a few out there.
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Old 24-10-2014, 13:05   #15
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Re: Class E AIS

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...There are few people in this world who don't have a wireless plan and a smart phone or tablet. I don't personally know anyone without both.
Well, in my world, everyone already has an AIS receiver, so there is no incremental cost for that, either. If you can rationalize away the cost for the smartphone and its data plan, I can do the same for the AIS receiver.
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