Iridium Gets Waiver to Provide Maritime Distress Service
Friday, December 27, 2019 | Comments

The FCC granted to Iridium Communications a waiver of several Part 80 rules to permit vessels to select Iridium for the provision of Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) mobile satellite service.

The GMDSS is an International Maritime Organization (IMO) worldwide coordinated maritime distress system designed to provide the rapid transfer of distress messages from vessels in distress to units best suited for giving or coordinating assistance. Until recently, Inmarsat was the sole mobile satellite service recognized by the IMO to provide GMDSS mobile satellite service, and FCC rules specifically require certain vessels to carry an Inmarsat ship earth station.

The FCC said delaying implementation of Iridium’s service would frustrate the IMO’s system for enhancing maritime safety, and the waiver is in the public interest.

“In addition to enhancing maritime safety, Iridium’s proposed GMDSS offering will, for the first time, provide the benefits of service provider competition to mariners subject to GMDSS requirements, which may result not only in lower compliance costs but also encourage new and innovative equipment functionalities,” the order said.

The full FCC order is here.

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