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Old 26-02-2019, 12:04   #1
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UHF Marine channels for "on-board stations."

I happened across this today.


Apparently the FCC authorizes "on board stations" to operate in the UHF band. They may communicate with other stations aboard the same ship regarding "the needs of the ship," i.e. anchoring, docking, etc., and with people ashore while docking.


https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/47/80.1175


https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/47/80.373


There are four channel pairs in the 457 and 467 MHz band, with a 1225 Khz separation to allow duplexing for on-board repeater use.


Apparently these require no further licensing beyond a ship station license. Power is limited to 4 watts, and a repeater, if used, may not have an antenna more than 10 feet above deck.


I am unsure what the situation might be internationally, but this might be another alternative to cheap FRS radios.
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Old 26-02-2019, 12:08   #2
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Re: UHF Marine channels for "on-board stations."

Apparently it's included in the ITU recommendations, which means there should be some international recognition.

Quote:
5.287Use of the frequency bands 457.5125-457.5875 MHz and 467.5125-467.5875 MHz by the maritime mobile service is limited to on-board communication stations. The characteristics of the equipment and the channelling arrangement shall be in accordance with Recommendation ITU-R M.1174-3. The use of these frequency bands in territorial waters is subject to the national regulations of the administration concerned.(WRC-15)

There are a number of reports in the scanner community of cruise ships using these frequencies. This would suggest acceptance of the use of these frequencies internationally.
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Old 26-02-2019, 12:59   #3
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Re: UHF Marine channels for "on-board stations."

Looks like Europe allows these.


https://www.cept.org/ecc/topics/mari...communications
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Old 26-02-2019, 16:41   #4
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Re: UHF Marine channels for "on-board stations."

"An on-board station may communicate with a station in the Business Radio Service "
There are many "Radio Services" such as MURS that the public is not familiar with--but you can buy them off the shelf. This would appear to require a "Part80" certified compliant radio though. Just because you can USE a radio, doesn't mean you can use any radio. Aside from ham radio operators, pretty much every radio commercially sold or used (not just here in the US) has to be "certified" or "type accepted" or similarly specifically tested and approved--or else using it is still illegal.
So the horde of cheap chinese radios you will find online, that can easily work on those frequencies? Would still be very illegal to use, they are not FCC certified for the job. Odds are your local Icom dealer does have approved radios--but at commercial prices.
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Old 26-02-2019, 17:37   #5
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Re: UHF Marine channels for "on-board stations."

MURS is VHF, not UHF Also not ANY UHF radio would need to be type accepted. These "cheap" radios are typically not.
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Old 27-02-2019, 06:42   #6
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Re: UHF Marine channels for "on-board stations."

No shortage of UHF b-band radios, new and used, that are type accepted. The regulations are unclear, but as near as I can tell:


1) The radios don't need to be type accepted under part 80, because the type acceptance procedures in that part are very much specific to MF HF and VHF frequencies and DSC. Ordinary part 90 b-band radios would, I assume, be fine, particularly since the reg authorizing on-board stations authorizes interoperability with b-band users.



2) No further license is needed beyond a ship station license. I did a search of the FCC license database, and there aren't any licenses issued to ships for particular UHF frequencies. I went at it a couple of ways, searching all the ship licenses for UHF, and then wading through a bunch of UHF licenses to see if there was anything that looked like a ship. There also isn't any way to apply for a particular frequency for marine use on any of the license application forms.


I have a friend of a friend who works at the FCC and may make some informal inquiries at some point to be sure this is all correct.



I'm not sure there are many situations where this is the best answer for a cruising boat, but it does appear to provide an internationally acceptable alternative to using gmrs for docking and anchoring.
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Old 27-02-2019, 09:35   #7
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Re: UHF Marine channels for "on-board stations."

Very Interesting, Jammer


I threw those channels into my scanner a couple hours ago, and here in Riviera Beach, FL, I'm hearing activity on all four of the "main" channels - one conversation was narrowband analog, and all the others sounded like DMR digital voice (my scanner won't decode DMR, but that's what it sounds like). I'll poke 'em into a DMR HT and see what I hear

If these channels are this busy here in sleepy Palm Beach, I would imagine they'd be pretty busy in big harbors like Ft. Lauderdale or Norfolk. You might get run off in such a place, especially if they figure out you're a private yacht! Out in the boondocks, you're probably fine, though watch out for places that have a busy channel passing by. Using tone decode sounds like a good idea to me.



Under Part 90, these channels are licensed and allocated to "Cargo Operations", and everything there is narrowband nowadays, which is why I doubt you'll hear much wideband activity on them, at least in the US.



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Old 27-02-2019, 10:08   #8
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Re: UHF Marine channels for "on-board stations."

..nod..


CTCSS is a good thing.


I believe these frequencies are shared with the general business pool in addition to just cargo operations. Target stores, for example, seem to use them. Looking at the regs there's nothing about it being a secondary use so people are going to have to share.


Might be necessary to program all 8 and choose one that's less busy on arrival.



I haven't done a license search to see if some frequencies are more widely assigned than others but I suspect that's the case, because some (not all) are included in common lists of itinerant frequencies.
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Old 27-02-2019, 10:59   #9
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Re: UHF Marine channels for "on-board stations."

Jammer-
It sounds like the ITU is just making a recommendation for a gentkemens' agreement, so that international cruisers won't have to buy new radios in every venue.
And somewhere in the FCC's paperwork, they may just regulate Part80 as a subset of Part90. Life's too short to go looking through all that. I think even if you called their Licensing Division, they'd have to put you on the phone and research it.(G)

Gary-
I wasn't talking about UHF or VHF specifically. Just saying that MURS is another alternative most folks are unaware of. Doesn't need the GMRS licensing, beats FRS on power, and frankly on a boat or ship, VHF is going to have more penetrating power and range than UHF. There are many choices for radios, and many reasons for the different services.
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Old 27-02-2019, 11:31   #10
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Re: UHF Marine channels for "on-board stations."

Quote:
Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
Jammer-
It sounds like the ITU is just making a recommendation for a gentkemens' agreement, so that international cruisers won't have to buy new radios in every venue.

I think you're right.


I did some more digging.


All of these frequencies, including the 12.5 khz in-between channels, are part of the itinerant pool. That means that essentially any business can have a license to use them for the asking, for handhelds, with a 2 watt maximum power.

Nationwide, in the U.S., there are 400-1700 licenses for each of these channels. The ones with the largest number of licenses are those that appear on in the default programming for blister-pack business radios. These radios are programmed with dozens of frequencies, and purchases (if they obtain a license at all) usually license all of them even if they don't intend to use them.


In general these are two watts or less, which is all that would be granted now, but there are a handful of higher power licenses issued in the past that remain grandfathered in.


I guess the key conclusions of all this are: that there *are* other non-marine users, and that these users are *already* dealing with some amount of interference because there is no serious effort by the FCC to assign these channels on an exclusive basis.


So, yes, moral of the story, these haven't been set aside for exclusive use, but they appear to be legal internationally for use aboard, while MURS and GMRS are limited to the USA, and FRS is limited to North America.


They would therefore be an alternative for people who want a reliable, rugged, full-featured radio, with hands free accessories available, that is fully in compliance with worldwide regulations.


For use ashore in the USA, I think it would be easy to obtain a nationwide itinerant b-band license, by setting up a non-profit corporation whose purpose is to encourage safety on the water or something. GMRS would be a better choice for USA-only use because the power limits are higher, the license easier (=cheaper) to obtain, and the frequencies less congested (I think). But there's no legal cover at all internationally and some risk of interfering with more critical licensed services, particularly in Europe.
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Old 27-02-2019, 12:32   #11
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Re: UHF Marine channels for "on-board stations."

I'm familiar with some of the Part90 licensing, have no idea on most of the other special allocations. There already are "public safety" corporations in most cities that sub-let their licensed channel use to others, even to city agencies. There's a whole commercial business in radio rentals (long and short term) for that.

But to set up your own non-profit...aside from the initial and annual paperwork, probably a $100-$400 annual corporate tax to be paid, and other complications. At that point, "Use your cell phone" comes to mind as being cheaper and faster. With a PTT talk group, if you need that ability to share comms with multiple users.

Or GMRS licenses. Or all the other simpler stuff.
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Old 27-02-2019, 13:00   #12
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Re: UHF Marine channels for "on-board stations."

Hellosailor, you only need a license if you want to use 'em ashore - assuming you have a boat radio license, it's included for use aboard (and thereabouts). Most states don't charge much for a corporate annual fee, as long as the corp doesn't actually make money.


After a few more hours, I've shut down the scanner - too much "brrrrrrrrappp" of DMR to listen to -- but I did note that the cruise ship next door uses one of those channels for housekeeping stuff.


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Old 27-02-2019, 14:13   #13
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Re: UHF Marine channels for "on-board stations."

Jammer-
"There are four channel pairs in the 457 and 467 MHz band, "
OK, my google-** is broken today. I've looked at the FCC, looked for "UHF marine radios", looked for "Part 80" radios, and only seen authorization for the usual marine VHF bands and the usual SSB channels.
Absolutely nada about any UHF radios, except the limited permissions to communicate with Business Radio Service--when don't specify any bands at all.

So where's the express permission to use any UHF while shipboard? For exactly what operations? Those two Cornell citings of the USC don't mention any UHF authorizations, either.

Uncle Charlie has always been good at making quagmire.
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Old 27-02-2019, 16:14   #14
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Re: UHF Marine channels for "on-board stations."

Quote:
Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
Jammer-
"There are four channel pairs in the 457 and 467 MHz band, "
OK, my google-** is broken today. I've looked at the FCC, looked for "UHF marine radios", looked for "Part 80" radios, and only seen authorization for the usual marine VHF bands and the usual SSB channels.
Absolutely nada about any UHF radios, except the limited permissions to communicate with Business Radio Service--when don't specify any bands at all.

It is in 80.373(g). I posted a link upthread but it's to all of 80.373 which includes a bunch of MF and VHF stuff first. You have to scroll down. Here's the link again:


https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/47/80.373


It doesn't actually say UHF, it just enumerates the frequencies for on-board use (which are all UHF).
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Old 27-02-2019, 16:33   #15
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Re: UHF Marine channels for "on-board stations."

Quote:
Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
I'm familiar with some of the Part90 licensing, have no idea on most of the other special allocations. There already are "public safety" corporations in most cities that sub-let their licensed channel use to others, even to city agencies. There's a whole commercial business in radio rentals (long and short term) for that.

But to set up your own non-profit...aside from the initial and annual paperwork, probably a $100-$400 annual corporate tax to be paid, and other complications. At that point, "Use your cell phone" comes to mind as being cheaper and faster. With a PTT talk group, if you need that ability to share comms with multiple users.

Or GMRS licenses. Or all the other simpler stuff.

I agree although I think it depends a great deal on how clean you want to keep your nose from a regulatory standpoint, what countries you visit, and whether you frequent areas where cell phone service isn't usable. Maybe it's just an armchair exercise.
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