Radio Spectrum Inventory: A 2010 Snapshot — Canada

Chapter 10–Maritime Mobile Service

10.1 Background

10.1.1 Definitions

The Maritime Mobile Service is an internationally-allocated radio service providing for safety of life and property at sea and on inland waterways. It includes the MMS, the Maritime Mobile-Satellite Service, the Port Operations Service, the Ship Movement Service, the Maritime Fixed Service, and the Maritime Radiodetermination Service. These services classify the different types of marine radio communications, but they are less important for regulatory purposes than the two classifications of marine radio stations which are Maritime stations on land (Coast Station) and Maritime station on board ships or vessels (Ship Station);

Coast Station is defined as a fixed station that operates in the maritime service;

Ship Station is defined as a mobile station, including a hand-held radio that is installed or operates on board a ship or vessel.

10.1.2 Broad description of type of service/applications

Together, shipboard and land stations in the maritime services are meant to serve the needs of the entire maritime community. In Canada, Industry Canada regulates spectrum allocation, while Transport Canada, with the help of the Canadian Coast Guard, regulates operational requirements. As there are different types of vessels and different areas in which some may travel, (i.e. international waters or within the Canadian territory), different regulations are involved. These regulations make a distinction between compulsory fitted ships and non-compulsory fitted ships.

The MMS has evolved considerably from the earliest practical uses of radio back in 1900 when wireless radio devices installed on board vessels enabled them to receive storm warnings transmitted from stations on shore. Today however, with much more sophisticated systems, the same principles apply and both coastal and mobile stations are used to aid marine navigation, commerce and personal businesses, but such uses are secondary to safety, which is not only a national priority, but an international one as well.

10.2 Current Allocations and Utilization

10.2.1 List of Allocated Frequency Bands

The current frequency allocations and utilization is based on the ITU's international Radio Regulations. Maritime radiocommunications are carried out not only within Canada, but within international waters and near foreign ports. However, Canada is a sovereign country and, as such, and by generally following ITU-R Regulations, we have our domestic rules and regulations within our boundaries.

Table 10.1: List of Allocated Frequency Bands
Frequency bands (MHz)

Annex 6 contains tables detailing maritime frequency allocations and the way that these frequencies are used in Canada.

Maritime use from 52  MHz to 38GHz (for additional information, refer to Annex 1):
Maritime use from 52 GHz (for additional information, refer to Annex 1): [Description of Figure]

10.2.2 Type of Licence

Radio licences are issued for maritime coastal stations and vessels. However, due to the provision in section 15.2 of the Radiocommunication Regulations, radio apparatus on board a ship or vessel are exempt from licensing if certain criteria are met. This commenced in 1999 and as such, many owners of pleasure crafts ceased requesting licenses for their vessel. Because of this, attempting to quantify the number of frequency assignments on board vessels operating in Canada is not possible.

10.2.3 Comparison with the United States

With negotiations and international agreement under the ITU, the U.S. maritime mobile bands align with the Canadian maritime mobile bands.

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10.3 Spectrum Inventory and Analysis

10.3.1 Major Users

Major users of the maritime mobile service are the Government of Canada, commercial vessels from Canada and from different parts of the world, as well as Canadian pleasure crafts.

10.3.2 Number of assignments and geographic information

Assignments are related to a form of authority such as a licence. As there are many vessels in Canada that do not hold a radio licence, it is difficult to assess the number of these vessels. However, based on the licensing database, the numbers of assignments are provided in the tables below for both coastal stations and vessels.

Table 10.2: Vessels in Canada with Radio Licences
Type Compulsory fitted vessels Non-Compulsory fitted vessels Total
Passenger 112 41 153
Cargo 67 12 79
Tug 107 51 158
Fishing 177 301 478
Pleasure 29 2,436 2,465
Barges (not self propelled) 9 8 17
Barges (self propelled) 7 10 17
Miscellaneous 63 87 150
Government 92 218 310
Total 3,827
Table 10.3: Coastal Stations in Canada with Radio Licences
Maritime Coastal Stations Quantity
Pacific Pilotage Authority Canada 2
Administration Portuaire Montréal 1
Public Works and Government Services Canada 1
The St. Lawrence Seaway Management 26
The Toronto Port Authority 2
Hamilton Port Authority 1
Nanaimo Port Authority 1
Thunder Bay Port Authority 1
Vancouver Fraser Port authority 1
Windsor Port Authority 1
Fisheries and Oceans Canada 164
Thunder Bay Terminals Limited 1
Canadian National Railway VN109925 1
Surrey Sailing Club 1
Cafferata Enterprises Ltd. 1
Emergency Measures Organization 6
Peter Semotiuk 1
Minor Bay Camps Inc. 1
Wollaston Lake Lodge Ltd. 1
Edmonton Yacht Club 1
Exxonmobil Canada Properties 5
Public Works and Government Services Canada 1
Encana Corporate 1
Sterling Marine Fuels 1
National Defence Headquarters 1
Total 224

10.3.3 Spectrum usage maps

The map of Canada below depicts the geographical locations of coastal stations that are authorized for maritime communications. Vessels, on the other hand, are not represented because there are no specific locations in which we assign or authorize the use of maritime mobile radios other than on water within Canada.

Figure 10.1–Authorized Coastal Stations in the Maritime Mobile Service
Figure 10.1–Authorized Coastal Stations in the Maritime Mobile Service [Description of Figure 10.1]

10.4 Trends

Due to the limited information on licences and assignments in Canada, spectrum trends based on the numbers of assignments are not representative to this type of service. The maritime community, with the involvement of several international organizations, has been implementing new digital technologies. However, the changes are slow as this is a worldwide endeavour.

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