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  #1  
Old 12-13-2013
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MMSI for DSC Handheld

I just picked up the Uniden MHS135 handheld VHF/DSC radio with built-in GPS. It's available at Amazon for $125, a very attractive price given its features. I believe that it's a closeout special, since the Uniden website now lists the MHS235 instead.

I already have a fixed VHF in my boat, with a MMSI registered through BoatUS (for US domestic use only).

My intention for this radio is as a backup to attach to me when singlehanding (so I'll have a distress button available if I go overboard), and also for dinghy use and occasional use on charter boats and/or others' vessels. I don't want to go through the bother of an international MMSI, so I plan to register through BoatUS. If I ever take it with me for use in BVI or other international locations, I'll just turn off DSC capabilities and not use the distress button.

I thought I would get your opinions of what MMSI to enter into the radio. From what I've read online, I basically have two choices:
  • Enter the same MMSI as my fixed radio. This does have the potential to create some confusion, since incoming DSC calls could be answered by two radios. So generally you should turn off DSC auto-acknowledge on one of the radios. I plan to turn off DSC scanning on the handheld anyway, because the scan feature causes dropouts on the analog audio channels (a well-known deficiency with this Uniden radio, because it shares a single radio receiver between DSC and analog channels). Using the same MMSI for both radios apparently also creates some problems calling between the two radios, which could be important for dinghy use.
  • Register for a second, unique MMSI for the handheld. This offers greater flexibility, including the ability to edit my profile for the handheld to reflect the different charter vessels that I might be on, and it allows placing DSC calls between the handheld and the fixed radio.

As you can probably tell, I am leaning toward the second option, which is the option that BoatUS recommends for my situation. But since you only get one shot to enter the MMSI into the radio, I thought I'd post my question here to make sure I'm not overlooking some other consideration.

By the way, I am really impressed with this Uniden radio's features - so much so that I ordered a second one as a Christmas present for my son who crews on racing boats in Seattle. I want him to have a distress button with him if he goes overboard. I do realize that due to his proximity to BC, he may have to register for an international MMSI number.

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Formerly posted as "RhythmDoctor"
1998 Catalina 250WK Take Five (at Anchorage Marina, Essington, on the Delaware River)
1991 15' Trophy (Lake Wallenpaupack)
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Old 12-14-2013
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Re: MMSI for DSC Handheld

If your handheld will only be used in the US, as a "voluntary" radio, then it would be considered a "portable" station and the FCC would license it as a "portable" station, not a conventional ship's station. They do this intentionally for radios that will be moving about with delivery crews, pilots, etc. As such, your handheld would also be best with an MMSI of its own. That would mean no license (for a voluntary station) and a US-only MMSI since there is no license.

OTOH you could ante up the extortionate license fee for a portable license for the handheld, get a real international MMSI number at the same time, and when and if you do leave the country, you're already all set. Either way, you should be able to add a few words into the registration, even if it is your new middle name "PORTABLE RADIO" etc. to tip off whoever goes looking for the records.

The FCC is required to impose licensing fees based on administrative costs. They have declined to respond on the question of why VHF fees went up from $75 to over $200, or why a VHF costs them more than, say, a ham license. ($14).
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Old 12-14-2013
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Re: MMSI for DSC Handheld

For me, any international use would be so infrequent that it's not worth buying a license. I'll just do the BoatUS free registration.

I'm still open to suggestions on the pluses/minuses of sharing my fixed VHF's MMSI vs. getting a second unique MMSI. I'll probably be doing this in the next day, so please speak up if you have suggestions, since it's effectively an irreversible decision once I've entered the MMSI into the radio.

I mentioned that I had bought a second radio for my son in Seattle, which might mean he needs a licensed radio for international use. It's sad to think that the license fee costs almost twice what the radio costs.
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Old 12-14-2013
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Re: MMSI for DSC Handheld

"It's sad to think that the license fee costs "
If enough of us keep asking the FCC that embarrassing question "And how did you determine the costs?" and then keep telling our Congresscritters that the FCC is refusing to answer, and refusing to follow the regulations for cost setting...I'll bet they could be convinced to stop sucking blood and drop the fee to under $50, where it belongs.
IIRC it was Carter or Reagan who pushed the mandate that all FCC licenses MUST be cost-based, and the FCC MUST document the cost of administering each licensing system in order to set those costs.
Maybe we could get BOATUS or the SSCA to pester them into 'fessing up.
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Old 12-14-2013
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Re: MMSI for DSC Handheld

At present for FCC / valid international MMSIs only one is issued per ships station license. In fact the ITU database only supports a single mmsi per entry. Hence the handheld cannot be licensed to a person , it must be a ship. There is a proposal being considered by the ITU to support individual licensing but I don't believe it's anywhere near ratification.

For boat Us mmsi , get a unique one for the handheld. It's the most useful
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Old 12-14-2013
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Re: MMSI for DSC Handheld

Quote:
Originally Posted by goboatingnow View Post
...For boat Us mmsi , get a unique one for the handheld. It's the most useful
That's what I ended up doing. For the database entry, I put in the info for my same sailboat as for the fixed VHF, but in the comment field I said it could also be used on other boats (dinghys, day rentals, charters, and/or others' boats that we were crewing on).

If we take the radio out on a week-long domestic charter and I can get identifying info ahead of time, I will temporarily edit the database fields with the charter boat's info. Does anyone know if that database information updates instantaneously, or is there a replication process that delays the USCG's ability to view the updated information?
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1991 15' Trophy (Lake Wallenpaupack)
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