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Author Topic:   VHF Marine Radio Service Channel Uses
jimh posted 09-24-2013 11:21 AM ET (US)   Profile for jimh   Send Email to jimh  
In the VHF Marine Radio Service, there are restrictions on the use of each channel for particular purposes and for particular users. In general, there is a division between commercial users and non-commercial users, and in inter-ship or ship-to-shore communication. These use restrictions are often shown in various charts or tables provided by any number of (non-authoritative) sources, but the actual regulations governing these use restrictions are set out by the FCC in their rules. The applicable sections appear in Part 80 of the commission's rules, and can be found on-line in a useful format at Part 80, Subpart H, Section 80.373, Private communications frequencies, which describes the carrier frequencies assignable for ship-to-ship and ship-to-coast private communications. In the linked document, refer to the lengthy table which begins on folio 98. The table sets out the use restrictions by various groups and purposes, and gives special clarification for some channels. (The table uses the notation "Do." which I believe means "ditto". This entry means that the use restriction immediately above is repeated. At least that is my best interpretation.)

The FCC also provides this information in a more useful format on their website. The webpage tabular presentation is easier to use, and also makes rather clear that there are three useful channels for non-commercial stations to use which otherwise seem to be ignored or seldom mentioned.

I refer (above) to CH-78A, CH-79A, and CH-80A, which are shown as available for non-commercial use in the FCC webpage (as well as in the official regulatory document linked earlier). Note that there are some area restrictions on CH-79A and CH-80A channels that limit their use to the Great Lakes.

By the way, as best as I can deduce, there is no purpose listed for CH-87A. This is the lower channel of a pair of channels previously used for marine operator service. The upper channel is now used as AIS-1 channel. If anyone sees a purpose listed for CH-87A, please let me know.

(Thanks to John Raby for pointing me to that FCC webpage with the nice listing of channels.)

jimh posted 09-24-2013 02:09 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I checked the channel designations that appear on the screen of a VHF Marine Band radio I have, and there was excellent correspondence between the radio's marking of the channel use and the regulations, even down to the mysterious CH-87A. On the radio, as in the regulations, there was no purpose designated for CH-87A, that is, the radio's screen was blank in the area where it displays the use designation.

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