Maritime Mobile Service Identity or MMSI

VHF Marine Band radios, protocol, radio communication theory, practical advice; AIS; DSC; MMSI; EPIRB.
jimh
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Maritime Mobile Service Identity or MMSI

Postby jimh » Sun Apr 03, 2016 8:43 am

Much of the information that follows has already been posted on CONTINUOUSWAVE.COM, but I am repeating it here in order to bring it to the new forum, to update it, and to make it available for future updates.

MMSI: Where and How to Get One

The Federal Communications Commission of the USA (FCC) recently issued a clarification on how boaters in the USA should obtain a maritime mobile service identity or MMSI. Unlike many federal documents, this one is quite clearly written. It explains the situation rather well. I will reproduce several sections of it verbatim:

Obtaining an MMSI. Vessel owners must obtain an MMSI prior to using a DSC radio, shipborne universal AIS transponder, or INMARSAT ship earth station. All equipment on the vessel, including handheld VHF-DSC radios, must use the same MMSI. How a vessel owner obtains an MMSI depends on whether the ship station requires a license from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) or is instead licensed by rule.


It should be noted that this is not only a regulatory requirement, it is also a practical requirement. Digital selective calling (DSC) radios of the modern, Class-D category won't operate as DSC radios until you have initialized their DSC system with an MMSI, and they will nag you to program them with the MMSI until you do enter it into the equipment.

Next, the FCC defines the two categories of ship station license: licensed-by-rule and licensed individually by the FCC. The FCC explains how these categories apply.

A ship station is licensed by rule and does not need a separate license from the FCC if:
--the ship station is not subject to the radio equipment carriage requirements of any statute, treaty, or agreement to which the United States is signatory;

--the ship station does not travel to foreign ports; and,

--the ship station does not make international communications.


Note that you have to meet all three of these conditions to be eligible to be licensed by rule.

A ship station licensed by rule is authorized to transmit radio signals using a marine radio operating in the 156-162 MHz band, any type of AIS, any type of emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB), and any type of radar installation. Operators of vessels that are licensed by rule can obtain MMSIs from these designated private registration agents:
--BoatUS,

--Sea Tow International, Inc.,

--Shine Micro, Inc., and

--United States Power Squadrons, Inc.


For most recreational boaters that are not boating in border regions, their boat transmitter will be licensed-by-rule and they will get an MMSI from a private registration agent, one of the four listed above. If you are a boater in a border region and anticipate going into foreign water and communicating with foreign shore stations, for example, boating to Canada and calling a Canadian marina on the radio, your boat transmitter cannot be licensed by rule. You must get an individual license from the FCC.

Ship stations that are not licensed by rule must be licensed by the FCC. The FCC assigns MMSIs to vessels with individual licenses through the ship station licensing process. An MMSI is assigned as part of the grant of an application for a new license.


Now comes the confusing part. If you already had an MMSI from a private issuing agent, and you decide to get an FCC license, what should you do? The FCC says:

Presently, licensed-by-rule vessels with an MMSI that later are licensed individually cannot use the previously issued MMSI in the FCC licensing process.... Instead, when the new license is granted the FCC will assign the ship station a new MMSI. This MMSI must then be programmed into the vessel's equipment in place of the previous MMSI. In addition, the licensee must have its private registration agent cancel the privately-issued MMSI.


In 2007 a boating industry group, the National GMDSS Implementation Task Force, petitioned the FCC to change this rule and process, and asked the FCC to permit the MMSI from a private issuing agent to be carried with the boat if the boater obtained an FCC ship station license. The petition pointed out the burden on the boater of having to reprogram all DSC devices with a new MMSI. Hundred of public comments were filed that supported the request for change. The FCC agreed that the petition had merit, but in 2009 it denied the request. The FCC cited the burden of the cost to alter their licensing system to make only this single change, and said that in the future, when considering modification to their licensing system, they would also consider adding this change. (See http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/pdf/gmdss/ta ... fcc-21.pdf for details.)

Seven years later in 2016, the FCC still has not changed its licensing system, and boaters are still stuck with having to change their boat's MMSI number when moving to an FCC issued MMSI from a privately issued MMSI. The FCC also explains:

On the other hand, a licensee that cancels a ship station license or allows it to expire (because the vessel no longer requires an individual license) generally may retain the FCC-issued MMSI and use it to register the vessel with a private registration agent. The vessel must then be registered with a private registration agent because its emergency contact information will be purged from the FCC's licensing database.


What is described here is a situation in which the licensing process of the private issuing agents is apparently more sophisticated than the licensing process of the FCC. The private agents can accept a new registration from a boater who has an FCC-issued MMSI and let the boat retain that MMSI number, but the FCC cannot accept the MMSI from the private agents. I guess this is a case of smaller agencies being more nimble than large agencies.

The FCC also makes an important distinction about the programming of emergency beacon device as distinct from other DSC devices that use an MMSI:

The vessel MMSI should not be programmed into a 406 MHz EPIRB. FCC rules require that 406 MHz EPIRBs on United States vessels be encoded and registered with the hexadecimal identification code assigned by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Users should ensure that the coding marked on the EPIRB is correct and matches data registered with NOAA, and that contact information registered with NOAA is accurate and current.


For the entire public announcement in the most easily read form, obtain a copy from

http://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Release ... 1989A1.pdf

There are other on-line versions of this document, but their presentation is not very clear. The PDF document linked above it much easier to read. It is also fully annotated with several footnotes and cites many references, which I have omitted in my quoted material above.

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Re: Maritime Mobile Service Identity or MMSI

Postby jimh » Sun Apr 03, 2016 8:44 am

The burden on boater's today when changing the MMSI in their equipment is actually much greater than it was seven years ago in 2007 when the FCC was petitioned to change their rules and procedures. In c.2007 there were many DSC devices which permitted the operator to enter the MMSI into the equipment more than once. This means that if the MMSI of a boat were changed, the owner could change the MMSI in the DSC equipment himself, assuming that he had not already used up all the opportunities provided by the equipment to change the MMSI. Typically DSC equipment permitted two entries of MMSI by the user. This suggests that the MMSI could be changed at least once by the owner for many devices from that era.

At present day, DSC radios and other DSC equipment typically only permit the entry of the MMSI once, and changing the MMSI requires that the radio be sent to the factory for service (or in some cases a factory authorized service agency can perform an MMSI reset in the field). And in the case of AIS transponders, the user is not permitted at any time to enter the MMSI into the equipment, so all AIS transponders would require return to the factory or a service center for change of the MMSI.

I do not see much real value in the requirement that a DSC radio must only permit entry of the MMSI one time before needing return to the factory. I suppose this requirement was made with the notion of preventing boaters from changing the MMSI of their DSC radios in a mischievous fashion. Considering that a new Class-D DSC radio today costs only about $150 (or less), there is really not much of a burden for someone who wants to create mischief with changing MMSI identifies in a radio; they can just buy a new radio and program it with any MMSI they like. If some group or organization wants to create confusion with MMSI numbers, it will only cost them a pittance per radio to make their mischief.

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Re: Maritime Mobile Service Identity or MMSI

Postby jimh » Sun Apr 03, 2016 8:44 am

The administration of ship station licenses by the FCC is also strange, in my opinion. The FCC approaches the licensing as if the ship itself were an entity, that is, the MMSI belongs to the ship not to the ship owner. The FCC says that if I sell my boat, the MMSI is supposed to be passed along with the boat to its new owner. If I get a new boat, I am supposed to get a new MMSI for it.

I suppose this seems reasonable if you consider that the goal is to conserve the total number of MMSI identities in use by linking the MMSI to the boat. If the MMSI were tied to a boat owner, there could be a lot of legacy MMSI numbers being held by people who no longer own a boat. The total number of those MMSI identities might eventually become so large that they took up a lot of the available numbering space for the MMSI system. And the numbering space is not infinite. Even thought MMSI identities are nine-digits, they involve a three-digit embedded identity for the issuing agency, leaving only six digits available, that is 999,999 identifies, for the agency to concern. But there are further constraints on the numbers regarding requirements for a trailing zero. This means in some cases only five digits for the identity, or 99,999 choices.

The inability of the FCC to accept previously-issued MMSI numbers means that many boaters now have two MMSI identifies registered for one boat, which means consuming more MMSI number space, i.e., about double the actual number of boats.

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Re: Maritime Mobile Service Identity or MMSI

Postby jimh » Sun Apr 03, 2016 8:46 am

Note that the policy of identification of emergency position-indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) devices is contrary to that of MMSI and boats. The FCC requires the registration of the EPIRB without involving the boat MMSI identity. The EPIRB device comes with its own embedded identity created by the manufacturer. It is the EPIRB device itself that has an identity.

The owner of the device then registers himself as having possession of that EPIRB device. When the EPIRB device is activated, it identifies itself--the EPIRB device itself--and then the owner is identified by association with the device by looking up the data in a table. The identification is a 15-character hexadecimal number. This allows for a total number of identities to be perhaps as high as 1,152,921,504,606,846,975--an enormously large number, many time larger than the number of people on the planet.

There is also a very significant difference between registering a 406-MHz EPIRB and registering for a MMSI: there is NO CHARGE to register an EPIRB with the official government agency data base maintained by NOAA. This is in contrast with the government policy for getting an MMSI from the official government registrar, the FCC. You have to pay $215 to register, and then renew every ten years.

There is also quite a difference in the system of communication used to relay the distress alert. With EPIRB 406-MHz, your distress alert transmission must be received by a satellite, which will then relay the message by some means, typically satellite to satellite, then satellite to earth station, then earth station to computer network. Then the system operators have to maintain a database with potentially many, many billions of identities, search that database, and find the owner of the beacon.

With a DSC distress alert sent on VHF radio, the signal goes from your boat all boats and shore stations in range. It has to be much cheaper to maintain a system of shore stations than to maintain a system or orbiting satellites, earth stations, and data networks. Yet EPIRB registration is at no cost, while MMSI registration is $215.

Both systems, EPIRB and DSC radios, are part of the Global Maritime Distress Safety System (GMDSS). The GMDSS is "an internationally agreed-upon set of safety procedures, types of equipment, and communication protocols used to increase safety and make it easier to rescue distressed ships, boats and aircraft."

Why do I have to pay $215 to get an MMSI? Why do I have to change the MMSI if I get a new boat? Why to I have to pay a $65 fee to make any modification to the MMSI data (such as changing address)?

In contrast, an EPIRB is registered for free. You can update the data for free. There is no charge for renewal of the registration. You can carry the EPIRB with you anywhere, land or sea. The EPIRB user never pays for any of these administrative costs; he just pays once, when he buys the EPIRB.

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Re: Maritime Mobile Service Identity or MMSI

Postby jimh » Sun Apr 03, 2016 8:46 am

The proper MMSI to be used with a handheld VHF Marine Band radio with DSC features is discussed at the U.S. Coast Guard website NavCenter. See http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/?pageName=mtMmsi

There you will find the following interesting information:

Obtaining MMSIs for DSC-equipped VHF Handhelds
A handheld VHF transceiver with DSC and an integral global navigation satellite system (e.g. GPS) not intended for dedicated use on a particular ship (e.g. a diver's radio) should be assigned a unique 9-digit number in the format 81M2I3D4X5X6X7X8X9. While currently means do not exist within the U.S. to assign such identities, the Coast Guard has been in discussions with the Federal communications Commission and others on implementing them.

In the interim, VHF handhelds used in the United States should use the MMSI assigned to the ship to which the handheld is primarily associated, even if another radio on that ship uses the same MMSI. Non-commercial users of VHF handhelds not primarily associated with any single ship may use an MMSI provided by an organization such as BOAT US, SEA TOW and U.S. Power Squadron (see above). VHF handhelds should not be used ashore absent FCC or NTIA authorization allowing such use.


Executive summary: there are regulations in existence for a handheld radio to have its own MMSI, but there are no means to implement this in the USA. If you use a handheld with more than one boat, get the handheld its own MMSI from BoatUS or other private issuing agencies.

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Re: Maritime Mobile Service Identity or MMSI

Postby jimh » Sun Apr 03, 2016 8:59 am

At the moment, it appears there are three private agencies that are able to provide MMSI registration to boats that do not have an FCC station license. They are:

--BoatUS; no fee is being charged for BoatUS members; non-members pay $25. See http://www.boatus.com/mmsi/

--United States Power Squadron; no fee is being charged. See http://www.usps4mmsi.com/

--Shine Micro; a $25 fee is being charged. See http://www.shinemicro.com/mmsiregistration.asp

Previously the SeaTow organization was acting as a private agency for MMSI registration, but they appear to have ceased that practice at this time.

In a recent report of the US GMDSS Task Force, statistics about private-agency MMSI registrations were given. BoatUS was reported to have issued 143,000 MMSI registrations to boats, and the USPS was reported to have made about 5,000 registrations. It was also noted that the FCC and several private agencies were in communication to develop a new memorandum of understanding regarding MMSI registration by those agencies

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Re: Maritime Mobile Service Identity or MMSI

Postby jimh » Sun Apr 03, 2016 9:10 am

An on-going problem with digital selective calling (DSC) radios and their maritime mobile service identity (MMSI) has been the difficulty in changing the MMSI of the DSC radio by the ship owner. Three groups, RTCM, NMEA, and US GMDSS Task Force, recently published this notice of their recommendation, which is faithfully reproduced below from the PDF version:

---begin reproduced document text----

GMDSS TASK FORCE ADVISORY RECOMMENDATION
Notice to Manufacturers of Marine Radios
Easing Restrictions on Changing
Own-Ship’s Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI) in Marine Radios
12 February 2015


Recommended Action

The Radio Technical Commission for Maritime Services (RTCM), the National Marine Electronics Association (NMEA), and the Global Maritime Distress & Safety System Task Force are urging that manufacturers of digital selective calling (DSC)-equipped marine radios voluntarily implement the requirements of RTCM’s VHF handheld standard regarding setting of own-ship MMSI in all marine radios, not just portable marine radios. Those requirements state that “Facilities shall be included in the radio to permit a manufacturer, dealer or service agent to delete the MMSI stored in the radio, so that a new MMSI can be entered in the radio.” [See note 1.]

Recognizing that many marine radios are sold by retail outlets and the internet without available support from dealers or service agents and are installed by the purchaser, it is recommended that manufacturers include instructions on deleting the MMSI stored in the radio in the support section of its website.

Background

International DSC standards have traditionally placed restrictions on operators changing ownship maritime mobile service identities (MMSIs), once an identity has been entered into the radio. For example §12.4 of Recommendation ITU-R M.493-13 states “Once stored, it should not be possible for the user to change the MMSI without advice from the manufacturer.” IEC 62238, the Class D DSC certification test standard, implements this requirement by stating “After the MMSI has been stored, it shall not be possible to change the identity using any combination of operator controls.” ETSI EN 300 338 V.1.3.1 §4.8 states “Once an own-MMSI is programmed, this number shall not be able to be edited by means of any of the user controls. Intervention by the manufacturer or authorized representative shall be required.”

The purpose of these restrictions is to keep the casual operator from stealing the identity of another boater when transmitting a routine or distress call. Nevertheless, all vessel owners are held responsible not only for ensuring that the proper identity is obtained and entered into the newly purchased device, but also for ensuring that this is accomplished in older radios whenever the radio or the boat in which the radio is installed is transferred or sold. When this occurs, radios which originally had the proper MMSI entered must now have a different MMSI entered. [See note 2]

Since the current owner is held responsible for ensuring that the radio has a properly registered MMSI, reasonable means should exist to enable that owner to meet this requirement, regardless of how the radio was originally purchased. If reasonable means do not exist to change the MMSI of a radio when it is sold or transferred, then the radio’s MMSI will remain unchanged and the new owners will operate a radio having the identity of its previous user.

Registration of MMSI information is used by the U.S. Coast Guard and other rescue authorities upon receipt of a distress alert especially when follow-up communication is not available. The Global Maritime Distress & Safety System Task Force has noted that approximately 60% of own-ship MMSIs stored in VHF DSC-equipped radios in the United States appears to be invalid or improperly unregistered.

Knowingly operating any such device with an inaccurate MMSI, causing such a device to be programmed with an inaccurate MMSI, or falsifying MMSI registration information is prohibited by the US Federal Communications Commission.

This Notice has been coordinated with the Federal Communications Commission and the US Coast Guard

Note 1: RTCM Standard 10150.0 Standard for VHF-FM Portable Marine Radiotelephone Equipment with Digital Selective Calling (DSC) and Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) Location Function §5.4. This section also includes IEC 62238’s requirement that “After the MMSI has been stored, it shall not be possible to change the identity number using any combination of operator controls”.

Note 2: Since an MMSI is intended to identify the radio stations aboard a specific vessel, it is generally not possible to keep a radio’s existing MMSI but change its registration information whenever the radio is moved between vessels or sold. Therefore the identity encoded into the radio itself must be capable of being changed.

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Re: Maritime Mobile Service Identity or MMSI

Postby conch » Sun Apr 03, 2016 10:15 am

It sure does seem confusing for VHF DSC GPS equipped handhelds.

"If you use a handheld with more than one boat, get the handheld its own MMSI from BoatUS or other private issuing agencies."

When applying for the MMSI on the BoatUS site there are mandatory fields to complete for vessel registration number and other identifiers. I am not sure how you can complete the online application without entering a specific vessel.

Has anyone registered a VHF DSC without identifying a vessel? I would like to use the handheld between my two boats, I see an area for remarks on the application. Maybe an entry in remarks could describe two possible vessels the handheld can be aboard in a distress DSC call situation?
Chuck

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Re: Maritime Mobile Service Identity or MMSI

Postby jimh » Sun Apr 03, 2016 10:51 am

Re the FCC fees for a ship station license; that fee has increased to $215 from $160. The new fee structure from the FCC for licenses in PART 80 SHIP RADIO SERVICE is as follows:

New, Renewal, or Renewal/Modification
--follow instructions FCC 605
--follow instructions FCC 159
--Application Payment/Fee Type Code: PASM - $65.00 Fee AND
--Regulatory Payment/Fee Type Code: PASR - $150.00 Fee

Thus an FCC ship station license will now cost the applicant $215. The license term is ten years.

Modifications to an existing license only incur the $65 application fee.

Source: Page 18 of WIRELESS TELECOMMUNICATIONS BUREAU, FEE FILING GUIDE, EFFECTIVE September 17, 2015

Fees for a RESTRICTED RADIOTELEPHONE OPERATOR PERMIT are now $65. The license term is for the lifetime of the licensee. (See page 10 of the linked document above.)

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Re: Maritime Mobile Service Identity or MMSI

Postby jimh » Sun Apr 03, 2016 11:32 am

conch wrote:Has anyone registered a VHF DSC [with BoatUS] without identifying a vessel? I would like to use the handheld between my two boats, I see an area for remarks on the application. Maybe an entry in remarks could describe two possible vessels the handheld can be aboard in a distress DSC call situation?


I recommend you call BoatUS on the telephone and speak to them regarding the proper method to register an MMSI with them for a hand-held device. Since the hand-held radio is not associated with a vessel, the appropriate vessel identification may be to enter "none." I also suggest you refer them to the USCG recommendation that their agency should be used for that function. Specifically, where the USCG says:

Non-commercial users of VHF handhelds not primarily associated with any single ship may use an MMSI provided by an organization such as BOAT US...

Source: http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/?pageName=mtMmsi

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Re: Maritime Mobile Service Identity or MMSI

Postby porthole » Sun Apr 03, 2016 12:14 pm

The MMSI recommendation that the number stays with the boat and that you can only do an end user change of that number once or twice can add additional headaches and expense.

My Icom M402:
This function is not available when the MMSI code has been programmed by the dealer. This code programming can be performed only 2 times.
There is no indication in the manual if you program the number twice can the dealer then do it a third time.

My Icom M504:
This code programing can be performed only twice. After the code programming, it can be changed only by your dealer or distributor.


My Standard Horizon:
The MMSI can be inputted only once. Therefore please be careful not to input the incorrect MMSI number. If you need to change the MMSI number after it has been entered, the radio will have to be returned to Factory Service.


My SH GX-2200 was originally installed on my 17 Outrage. That came out and went in the 21 Outrage. Fortunately I had am Icom M402 laying around that had never had an MMSI number programmed. That went in the 17 Outrage.
Hopefully by the time I buy Porthole VI the radio technology will have again changed enough for me to leave the existing radios and MMSI numbers in the 21 Outrage, and just get new radios and MMSI registration.
Thanks,
Duane
1999 Outrage 21
1999 Yamaha SW Series II 200

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Re: Maritime Mobile Service Identity or MMSI

Postby jimh » Mon Apr 04, 2016 9:13 am

Duane's detailed recounting of his radios and their MMSI programming characteristics is typical and matches the behavior I described earlier in this thread. Older radios that conforms to the RTCM SC-101 recommendation for DSC usually can be programmed for an MMSI more than once. Newer radios that conform to the CLASS-D qualification usually can only be programmed once.

The collective recommendation of the several agencies that I reprinted above says: "Facilities shall be included in the radio to permit a manufacturer, dealer or service agent to delete the MMSI stored in the radio, so that a new MMSI can be entered in the radio." (Emphasis added.)

What they are urging is to avoid the need to return the radio to the manufacturer because some special device or method must be used to re-set the MMSI entry. The recommendation is that the radio, through some method, be able to reset itself.

ASIDE: RTCM SC-101 refers to the Radio Technical Commission for Maritime Services and its Special Committee 101 on DSC. Wikipedia says the " Radio Technical Commission for Maritime Services (RTCM) is an international non-profit scientific, professional and educational organization. RTCM members are organizations (not individuals) that are both non-government and government. Although started in 1947 as a U.S. government advisory committee, RTCM is now an independent organization supported by its members from all over the world."

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Re: Maritime Mobile Service Identity or MMSI

Postby porthole » Mon Apr 04, 2016 10:40 am

Personally, if I cannot change the MMSI number in my own radio, I would like the ability to at least delete it from memory. I understand part of the limited change concept is to minimize invalid numbers, but at what cost?

There could be a very real circumstance of just changing out one of your radios and maybe selling the old one on eBay.

I posted this question to Icom: how much for a MMSI reset?
Thanks,
Duane
1999 Outrage 21
1999 Yamaha SW Series II 200

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Re: Maritime Mobile Service Identity or MMSI

Postby jimh » Mon Apr 04, 2016 3:03 pm

Standard-Horizon has a policy, as I recall, of a $14 charge for reset of MMSI, but you pay for the shipping charges in both directions. I estimate from Michigan to California and return by least expensive method will be about $26 to $30 shipping. The farther away from California, the more expensive the shipping tends to be.

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Re: Maritime Mobile Service Identity or MMSI

Postby JM3 » Mon Apr 04, 2016 7:25 pm

I easily got my MMSI number through Boat US. I had my dealer install my VHF and GPS/Sonar to work together in the DSC capacity. Easy

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Re: Maritime Mobile Service Identity or MMSI

Postby jimh » Mon Apr 04, 2016 7:47 pm

Re the "cost" of not being able to re-set the MMSI of a DSC radio: about the only reasons for requiring that the radio's identity not be easily reset or changed must be along these lines: it is either

--to avoid the operator accidentally changing the MMSI of the radio and not realizing it, thereby spoiling the whole purpose of the radio having an identity; a radio with the wrong MMSI accidentally entered is of no value in the DSC system; or

--to avoid allowing someone to nefariously change the MMSI of the radio intentionally to create a masquerading of another ship's identity.

For the first situation, all that needs to be done is to provide some sort of extra step or operator alert that must be acknowledged before the MMSI could be changed so that the notion that it might be done unintentionally is eliminated; also, we cannot make every modern device completely fool-proof, as there are just too many fools to create a system that could never succumb to their foolishness.

For the second situation, we have to judge how much impediment already exists for someone who intentionally wants to create a false identity; since every radio comes, right out of the box, with the ability to be programmed with any MMSI, all that stops someone from doing this is the cost of a new radio, which now is so low it is really no hurdle to serious mischief-makers.

Also, we should look at the reality of how responders might react to a false distress call made with a radio masquerading as some other vessel. One of the first actions of any responder to a DSC distress alert will be to look up the registrant in a database and attempt to contact them. So if someone programs the MMSI of my boat into their radio, and sends out a distress alert, I would expect that very soon after that I would be reached by telephone by the emergency responders trying to verify the authenticity of the distress alert. I'd tell them, no, sorry, my boat is a warehouse in storage and I am sitting in my living room working on my website. Where is the huge cost for the rescue agencies in that?

Also, if masquerading as another ship is such a worry, why is it possible for me or anyone else to search global databases for MMSI numbers by ship's names. If I want to find out the MMSI of the QUEEN MARY 2, all I have to do is search for it on-line. If there really is a worry about intentional masquerading as other ships, the first effort to stop it might be to make it a bit harder to find their identities in MMSI databases.

A Forward-thinking Proposal for MMSI Reform

To allow legitimate changing of the MMSI of a DSC radio, the radio owner should be able to perform a reset of the MMSI by having in his possession an authorization key that permits this function to occur. The authorization key would be a unique key that was based on the MMSI currently programmed into the radio. Such a key would be generated by an algorithm known only to the manufacturer. The owner would contact the manufacturer, and provide sufficient proof that he is the registrant of the MMSI. This could be easily done by permitting the manufacturer to have access to the database of MMSI registrations, which should not be particularly difficult nor represent too much of a risk to privacy. All that needs to be done is to look up the contact telephone number in the database. Then the manufacturer inputs the existing MMSI, generates an unlock code, and sends it as an SMS message to the telephone number of the registrant in the database. The radio owner then inputs the authorization code, the radio resets the MMSI, and everyone is happy.

There is no more risk of masquerading with this method that without it, as anyone can buy a new radio, open the box, and program any MMSI they want.

The radio serial number could also be a data input into the authorization code generation, and that would allow the manufacturer to know the identity of the radio that was unlocked, so the history of the individual radio's MMSI entry could be tracked, if desired.

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Re: Maritime Mobile Service Identity or MMSI

Postby jimh » Mon Apr 04, 2016 7:48 pm

JM3 wrote:I easily got my MMSI number through BoatUS. I had my dealer install my VHF and [chart plotter] to work together in the DSC capacity. Easy


Excellent! Your boat is now in the top-10-percent club re DSC, MMSI, and chart plotter integration. I just hope you never plan to cruise in foreign water, contact a foreign shore station, get a ship station license and MMSI from the FCC, or ever have any reason to change the MMSI in your radio.

I agree that obtaining an MMSI from a private-agency registrar like BoatUS could not be easier; it is very easy. On the other hand, obtaining a ship station license and an MMSI from the FCC that will be registered in all international databases could not be harder or more expensive. They've made getting that ship station license and MMSI about as difficult and expensive as it could possibly be. That contrast is part of the subject matter of this thread.

jimh
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Re: Maritime Mobile Service Identity or MMSI

Postby jimh » Fri Apr 08, 2016 10:40 am

Hold the presses. I just cleaned my glasses and re-read the recommendation to radio manufacturers from RTCM, et alia. I missed the most important part of the recommendation. Let's review it again. The recommendation includes this rather surprising advice:

Recognizing that many marine radios are sold by retail outlets and the internet without available support from dealers or service agents and are installed by the purchaser, it is recommended that manufacturers include instructions on deleting the MMSI stored in the radio in the support section of its website.

[Emphasis added]


Whoa! That is quite a recommendation. I am all for that approach.

Hoosier
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Re: Maritime Mobile Service Identity or MMSI

Postby Hoosier » Fri Apr 08, 2016 10:52 am

YES! Especially for handheld portable radios that can be used on more than one boat.
1978 Outrage V20 with 2004 Suzuki DF-115. 1992 23 Walkaround with two 2010 Yamaha F-150s.

porthole
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Re: Maritime Mobile Service Identity or MMSI

Postby porthole » Fri Apr 08, 2016 10:58 am

Got answers from Icom and Standard Horizon on MMSI resetting.

--Icom charges one-half the current hourly rate plus shipping both ways

--Standard-Horizon, if within the three-year warranty, makes no charge for reset plus shipping. They did not specify if you had to pay for shipping both ways.
Thanks,
Duane
1999 Outrage 21
1999 Yamaha SW Series II 200

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Re: Maritime Mobile Service Identity or MMSI

Postby jimh » Mon May 02, 2016 1:40 pm

Earlier in the thread I reproduced a letter of recommendation sent to radio manufacturers. See the entire letter at

viewtopic.php?f=9&t=688&p=4570#p4573

I spoke with one manufacturer who received the letter. The problem for them to comply with the recommended action contained in the letter is from concern that it might conflict with the requirements placed on them for compliance with the DSC standard. Although the Radio Technical Commission for Maritime Services (RTCM), the National Marine Electronics Association (NMEA), and the Global Maritime Distress & Safety System (GMDSS) Task Force are urging manufacturers to take some action, those manufacturers still must comply with the federal regulations. Those regulations prohibit the manufacture, importation, sale or installation of non-portable DSC-equipped radios that do not meet either ITU-R Rec. M.493 -11 or IEC 62238 Class D standards. (The ITU recommendation latest version is M.493-14.) The ITU document is available from

http://www.itu.int/dms_pubrec/itu-r/rec ... !PDF-E.pdf

On the topic of the MMSI entry, here is the actual text from the most recent version of the document. This section is unchanged from the -11 version mentioned in the federal regulations. I have emphasized the passage that causes concern:

12.4 Maritime mobile service identity

DSC equipment should not transmit any DSC call until own ship’s MMSI allocated to the ship by the relevant administration has been configured and stored in the DSC equipment. Once stored, it should not be possible for the user to change the MMSI without advice from the manufacturer. The DSC equipment should display own ship’s MMSI on start-up unless the MMSI has not been configured. If the MMSI has not been configured, the equipment will display a warning that the unit will not transmit any DSC calls until own ship’s MMSI is entered. The equipment should stay in this state until the operator confirms he has read the display and input own ship’s MMSI.

The MMSI should be readily displayed on the [human machine interface] when the DSC equipment is on.


In the absence of a clear statement by a regulatory agency in the USA, I can understand the reluctance of a radio manufacturer to alter their radios which are currently deemed to be in regulatory compliance so they would then newly comply with a recommendation from non-regulatory agencies.

Pine Sap
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Re: Maritime Mobile Service Identity or MMSI

Postby Pine Sap » Fri Jul 01, 2016 7:18 pm

Is it possible to get an MMSI for a new radio directly from FCC without also having to get some sort of Ship Station License?

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Re: Maritime Mobile Service Identity or MMSI

Postby jimh » Sat Jul 02, 2016 9:19 am

Pine Sap wrote:Is it possible to get an MMSI for a new radio directly from FCC without also having to get some sort of Ship Station License?

I don't think so. The MMSI is only assigned by the FCC when it grants a ship station authorization and assigns the station a callsign. I don't see any method to apply to the FCC for an MMSI unless you also apply for a ship station license and callsign.

My basis for this comes from the FCC's website. See

http://wireless.fcc.gov/services/index. ... 0May%20Use

There is no basis for the process of getting an MMSI to be affected by the age of the radio. A "new radio" does not make any difference. An MMSI is not associated with an individual radio; the MMSI is associated with the ship, and all ship radios use the same MMSI.

Ship station licenses come in a few "sorts." For a most boaters you will apply for a ship station license of the "sort" or category "SA" for "Ship Recreational or Voluntarily Equipped."