SCIENTIA SINICA Informationis, Volume 47, Issue 6: 677(2017) https://doi.org/10.1360/N112017-00016

The state of the art and challenges of marine communications

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  • ReceivedJan 16, 2017
  • AcceptedFeb 15, 2017
  • PublishedJun 9, 2017


To implement the Maritime Silk Road in the 21st century and to meet the demands of increasing maritime activity, a seamless, effective, and reliable communications coverage of relevant sea areas is necessary. In this review, we first outline state of the art marine communications networks in China and then analyze and compare several major marine communications networks, including marine radio communications, satellite communications, and shore-based mobile communications networks. Next, based on the geometric characteristics of numerous islands and reefs, a novel system architecture of marine communications networks is proposed, and the main technical challenges precluding its implementation are described, including channel modeling of marine communications, atmospheric duct effect, microwave scattering effect, and unified and effective network resource management. This work will benefit policy makers, scientific researchers, and engineers, by providing a global overview and enabling them to grasp the trends in marine communications, and thus is likely to promote the construction and development of marine communications in China.

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  • Figure 1

    (Color online) The architecture of marine communications system in China

  • Figure 2

    (Color online) A typical global marine communications network

  • Figure 3

    (Color online) An integrated marine communications system

  • Figure 4

    (Color online) A novel architecture of marine communications network

  • Figure 5

    (Color online) Ideal two-ray geometric channel model

  • Figure 6

    (Color online) Ideal three-ray marine channel model

  • Figure 7

    (Color online) Four propagation modes of marine electromagnetic waves

  • Figure 8

    (Color online) Atmospheric duct effect of marine electromagnetic waves

  • Figure 9

    (Color online) Principles of microwave scattering

  • Figure 10

    (Color online) Network architecture of integrated TRITON

  • Table 1   Marine radio communications systems in China
    System Communication method Business Data rate Communication distance
    NAVTEX MF (518 kHz) NBDP 50 bps 250$\sim$400 nautical miles
    MF/HF MF/HF (1650$\sim$27500 kHz) Voice, NBDP, DSC Medium/long distance
    VHF VHF (156.0$\sim$174.0 MHz) Voice, DSC 1.2 kbps Visual range
    AISVHF (156.025$\sim$162.025 MHz) Ship identification, Monitoring 9.6 kbps Visual range
  • Table 2   Satellite communications systems in China
    SystemCommunication method Business Data rate Communication distance
    EPIRB1.6 GHz or Alarm, identification, 400 bps Long distance
    406 MHz-EPIRBpositioning and locating
    BeiDou user equipmentPositioning,
    BeiDou systemdata interface navigation 19.2 kbps Long distance
    protocol (V4.0) and short message
    messages, distress calls,
    C enhanced group call,
    data reports and polling
    Voice, fax, 4.8 kbps (voice),
    F Ku-Band satellite high speed data 9.6 kbps (fax, data),
    television vehicular and video 64 K (ISDN data service)
    Inmarsat (shipborne) receiver 4.8 kbps (voice), Long distance
    Mini-M (JT/T629-2005) Voice, fax, data 2.4 kbps (fax),
    2.4 kbps (data)
    4 kbps (voice),
    Voice, fax,3.1 kHz (audio channel
    FB broadband data, G3 fax), standard
    video and SMSIP and stream IP,
    160 symbols/SMS
  • Table 3   Performance comparison of marine communications systems
    System Advantage Disadvantage
    Maritime wireless MF/HF Medium/long distance, free of charge Narrow band access,
    communications VHF Visual range, free of charge low stability
    Marine satellite communicationsWide area coverage, High cost of equipment,
    broadband access high monthly fee
    Near shore coverage,
    Shore-based mobile communicationsBroadband access charging by service time
    and amount of data

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