Future Maritime VHF Digital Exchange System (VDES) – a combined terrestrial and satellite communications system
**Mr Ørnulf Jan Rødseth**, MARINTEK, Norway
**Mr Pierre Debusschere,** CLS - Maritime Surveillance, France
**Dr. Nader S. Alagha,** ESA, The Netherlands
**Dr. Ronald Raulefs**, German Aerospace Center (DLR), Germany
Within the VHF band about 6 MHz of spectrum are worldwide in use by maritime applications which are either analog or digital communication. There is an ongoing activity to redesign the maritime VHF band for digital communications. Currently, several groups are working towards a combined terrestrial and satellite communications system, namely VDES (VHF Digital Exchange System). Players are all maritime actors (ship owner, coast guards, IMO, IALA, etc.) and also terrestrial and satellite manufactures. VDES includes the Automatic Identification System (AIS), Application Specific Messages (ASM), and VHF Digital Exchange (VDE).
The key challenge is to fulfill the requirements close to coastal areas as well as the open sea with the limited available spectrum. Close to the coast the density of ships and the need to communicate with the land is high. This is supported by terrestrial infrastructure on land. On the open sea the demand is lower and also the ship density is typically significantly lower. However, the only reliable connectivity is via satellite. To cope with both requirements in a single system, VDES’ design is based on terrestrial and satellite.
This panel aims to bring together the experts involved in the VDES standardization activities worldwide for presentations and discussion on the current situation, the challenges, sharing options for the VDE terrestrial and satellite components, the user and regulative needs, and viewpoints on this new digital maritime communications.