Icom Requests Waiver to Manufacture MF/HF DSC Radio
Tuesday, May 09, 2017 | Comments

The FCC requested comment on a request for waiver filed by Icom America to permit the manufacture, importation, sale and installation of its medium frequency/high frequency (MF/HF) digital selective calling (DSC) radio Model IC-M802.

Ship stations use MF/HF radios, which operate in the maritime mobile portions of the 1.6 – 27.5 MHz band, to communicate with other ship stations or coast stations for safety, navigation and weather information. A waiver is required because the M802 does not comply with the relevant technical standard now incorporated by reference in the commission’s rules.

Equipment certification for the M802 was granted in 2002. The M802 is a Class E DSC radio. Class E equipment is intended to provide minimum facilities for MF and/or HF DSC distress, urgency and safety as well as routine calling and reception, but not to comply fully with the requirements applicable to vessels that are required to carry an MF/HF DSC radio as part of the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS). GMDSS-compliant Class A radios typically cost several times as much as Class E equipment, intended for use by vessels that are not subject to the GMDSS requirements. Icom stated that typical M802 users are cruising vessels, such as smaller ships used for recreation.

Icom requested the waiver for the M802 until 2020, by which time it expects to have available an MF/HF DSC radio that complies with the current standard. It argued that a waiver is in the public interest because it will enable cruising vessels to obtain communications, safety and weather information from an HF radio during a voyage. It asserts that it is the only manufacturer that produced Class E radio equipment at a price point that general users could afford, and that non-DSC communications alternatives do not provide the same safety benefits.

The comment deadline is June 8, and reply comments are due by June 23. The full public notice is here.

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