DSC-equipped VHFs must meet new technical standards

SEVERNA PARK, Md. — As of March 25, 2011, certain marine radios became obsolete, as the Federal Communications Commission now prohibits the manufacture, import, sale and installation of fixed-mount (non-portable) digital selective calling (DSC)–equipped marine radios. These radios no longer meet certain new requirements.

“Boat owners need to be aware of the change so that they don’t inadvertently purchase a VHF that does not comply with the new standards,” said NMEA President David Hayden.

The FCC has identified the new standards as International Telecommunications Union (ITU-R) Recommendation M.493-11 and higher and (in the case of Class D VHF DSC equipment only) International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) International Standard 62238. Portable DSC-equipped VHF radios must also comply with these requirements in 2015.

New radio features include provisions for making test calls, dual-receiver functionality to improve operation, and Global Positioning System (GPS) interconnection alarms designed to ensure that distress alerts include a valid and accurate position. The new requirements ensure improved detection of distress alerts, a reduction in the rate of false alarms, and reduced incessant alarming caused by DSC-equipped radios meeting the older standard.”

The FCC action does not affect previously installed radios that meet the old RTCM Standard SC-101.

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