VTS & Maritime Surveillance Issues & Solutions

Maritime VHF Communication

Communication is an essential part of the role of a VTS Operator, but unlike terrestrial forms of mobile communication (such as Mobile Phones, Skype etc..) maritime mobile communication has continued almost unchanged for decades. GMDSS has ensured that ships are equipped with a suitable means of communication equipment for all areas of the oceans but the near shore maritime VHF technology has barely changed. With almost all other forms of voice communication changing to digital technology so that the frequency spectrum can be used more efficiently, how long will it be before maritime VHF finally goes digital?

Analogue or Digital?

Terrestrial emergency services have switched from analogue VHF communication to TETRA which increases the number of available channels and provides more advanced and resilient functionality. Maritime VHF communications could adopt TETRA style technology for part of the Maritime VHF band and begin a switchover to digital communications. As many maritime accidents often relate to poor communication or errors in communication, the adoption of an improved technology can only be a good thing.

Maritime VHF - still rooted in the Analogue age

The introduction of Digital Selective Calling on VHF Channel 70 has provided a few digital services to the Maritime sector, but most mariners and other users (including VTS) consider DSC as simply a GMDSS Distress Calling facility.