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Old 13-02-2017, 13:27   #1
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Inmarsat-C users w/o annual contract face barring once FCC withdraws as AAIC

We've been trying to understand what the real, practical impact there will be, if any, from the Federal Communications Commission announced plans to withdraw as an ITU-recognized accounting authority discussed earlier here: http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/f13/fcc-plans-to-withdraw-as-accounting-authority-affects-ship-to-shore-comms-billing-177776.html. After many discussions with Inmarsat, the FCC and with private accounting authorities I think we have a clearer understanding of the impact.

All users of legacy Inmarsat terminals must have commissioned them with a contracted ITU-recognized accounting authority, necessary to handle telecommunications billing when calls are made through an earth station not owned by Inmarsat. Now that Inmarsat B, mini-M and M services have ended, only the Sat-C and Fleet series terminals are affected. Apparently all US accounting authorities except FCC require some sort of a annual telecomm services contract to be in place before they can be used in commissioning as an accounting authority. Since Sat-C terminals are often owned without an annual contract, those terminals are most likely to be affected.

If you use an Inmarsat terminal for safety purposes only, with the intent not to accrue any charges except in an emergency, you likely have a Sat-C terminal commissioned with FCC as accounting authority (AAIC US01) and you are affected. Sat-C terminals are used without charge for distress alerting and for receipt of maritime safety information broadcasts (i.e. SafetyNET). They are also used to meet IMO-mandated requirements for global maritime distress and safety (GMDSS), long range identification and tracking (LRIT) and for ship security alerting system (SSAS) piracy alerts. If you don't have an annual telecommunications contract for your Sat-C you are likely affected.

If your Sat-C was commissioned with accounting authority US01, your terminals will likely be barred once FCC withdraws as accounting authority unless the terminal is re-commissioned with a new contracted private accounting authority such as Inmarsat, COMSAT or MacKay. (We're trying to find out whether barring occurs immediately after FCC withdraws or only after a telecoms charge is incurred). FCC has told thus they will attempt to contact affected users prior to withdrawing.

FCC is seeking comments on their planned withdrawal until March 14th. Comments can be filed electronically at https://www.fcc.gov/ecfs/; enter "98-96" under "specify proceeding".

Joe Hersey
US Coast Guard
Washington DC
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Old 14-02-2017, 11:59   #2
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Re: Inmarsat-C users w/o annual contract face barring once FCC withdraws as AAIC

Joe,
Thank You Very Much for this detailed info and description!
It does help us out a lot!!

While there are some sailors that do use INMARSAT-C ("Sat-C") only for SafetyNet broadcasts and for GMDSS Distress signaling, and as you point out these are the ones without a teleco contract...I'm wondering how many there are??

And, also wondering why (if) the IMO would allow INMARSAT to "bar" terminals used for GMDSS compliance, for no other reason that they didn't buy a telecommunications contract??
This would seem to go against IMO/GMDSS rules, or at least against the spirit of the GMDSS itself??

Unless I'm behind the times, and new/recent approvals have been granted for FB250/FB500, it's either INMARSAT-C or Fleet-77, and/or MF/HF-DSC-SSB-Radiotelephone, that's needed for GMDSS compliance, and I find it confusing that the IMO would allow INMARSAT to "bar" existing approved terminals??


In any case, thanks again for the info!

Fair winds!

John
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Old 14-02-2017, 15:16   #3
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Re: Inmarsat-C users w/o annual contract face barring once FCC withdraws as AAIC

John, to be clear, a barred Sat-C terminal can still send a preformatted distress alert, and it still should be able to receive SafetyNET messages. But it cannot do much else.

The problem of unexpectedly barred Sat- C terminals was brought before the International Maritime Organization some 18 or so years ago. IMO decided that distress alerts should not be affected and that the flag state should be.notified of barring.

Inmarsat Fleet Broadband terminals should not be affected since Inmarsat owns all FB earthstations and has no need for accounting authorities to handle billing.
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Old 16-02-2017, 12:48   #4
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Re: Inmarsat-C users w/o annual contract face barring once FCC withdraws as AAIC

Joe,
Okay, thanks for the clarification!
INMARSAT is a great tech company, but their odd quasi-governmental approach to things does make you scratch your head sometimes....(anyone remember dealing with Intellsat tariffs / lainding rights??

Fair winds...

John
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