Mobile phones on board vessels

Within two nautical miles from the coast

Use of mobile communication services on board vessels (MCV services) is allowed as close as two nautical miles from the coast. This has been decided by the European Commission. Before the current legislation entered into force on 1 January 2011 use of mobile communication services on board vessels was not allowed within twelve nautical miles from the coast.

If the vessel operates closer than two nautical miles from the coast (e.g. when arriving at port) the MCV system must be switched off.

Find the Commission Decision here (pdf)

The area between two and twelve nautical miles from the coast

If the MCV system on board the vessel is switched on in the area between two and twelve nautical miles from the coast a set of specific conditions must be met in order not to interfere with the mobile communication systems on land. The conditions are laid down in the Commission Decision.

Find the Commission Decision here (pdf)

Mobile communication services on board vessels (MCV services)

Many freight and passenger ships offer their passengers and crew mobile communication services on board the vessel (MCV services) when operating in areas of the sea that are not covered by land-based mobile communication networks. The MCV system provides access to a land-based communication network via e.g. satellite.

GSM frequency bands and mobile operators

MCV systems use GSM frequency bands (900 and 1800 MHz). These frequency bands are also used by the mobile operators. In Denmark the mobile operators authorised to use the GSM frequency bands are Telia, TDC, Telenor and 3.

Besides covering land areas the mobile operators’ authorisations also cover the sea area within twelve nautical miles from the coast. From 1 January 2011 the mobile operators must share the use of the GSM frequency bands with vessels using MCV systems on board in the area between two and twelve nautical miles from the coast.

Agreements with the mobile operators

If the use of MCV systems on board vessels cannot meet the specific conditions laid down in the Commission Decision or if the system is switched on closer than two nautical miles from the coast this has to be agreed with the mobile operators.

Breaches

If the MCV systems are not used in accordance with the Commission Decision - e.g. not switching off the system when operating closer than two nautical miles from the coast the penalty is a fine. The penalty rules are laid down in the Danish Frequency Act.

Rules

Commission Decision of 19 March 2010 on harmonised use of radio spectrum for mobile communication services on board vessels (MCV services) in the European Union (2010/166/EU) (pdf)

Contact

Anja Palsgreen
Advisor (+45) 3392 7541
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