NAVDAT aims to introduce a numerical maritime communication system accessible to smaller tonnage vessels worldwide using the universal 500 kHz frequency, and is the result of a collaborative project called IPBC (Internet Protocol for Boat Communications), headed by Kenta.
Kenta says that the data transmission rates offered by NAVDAT extend the service provided by the current global system, NAVTEX, and assumes the same major functions (navigational warnings, weather forecasts and emergency information for shipping).
However, the company claims that NAVDAT offers an increased speed of transmission and improved processing quality by providing access to a range of additional data, in text format but also in the form of images and graphs.
This data is set to include meteo-oceanographic information in the form of charts (e .g. isobaric) or numerical data (e.g. regular updates on the position of the eye of a tropical cyclone), reports showing mapped positioning of ice and icebergs, warning reports relating to piracy, and other information relating to maritime search and rescue.
The NAVDAT system also offers a range of broadcasting options, whether it is to all vessels or to vessels sailing within a specific geographical area, and has an encryption option for transmitting confidential information.
During trials carried out in 2010 on board the Pont Aven, a vessel owned by Brittany Ferries, the signals transmitted from an experimental station near Brest in France were clearly received as far as Cape Finistère and the south of the Irish Sea. These results prompted discussion within Working Group 5 of the International Telecommunications Union regarding the use of this frequency band.
A joint initiative by the Agence Nationale des Fréquences (ANFR – French National Radio Frequency Agency) and Kenta resulted in an ITU-R-M recommendation in November 2011 and the ITU’s recognition of transmission by the system on the 500 kHz radio frequency. This is the same frequency which was used 100 years ago by the Titanic to transmit its SOS at 23:40 hours on 14 April 1912.
During the 2012 World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC) that followed, 153 countries signed up to the exclusive use worldwide of the 500 kHz band by mobile maritime services.
As a result of these developments, France is now preparing to give a joint presentation to IMO with Germany, Belgium and Romania on the NAVDAT system and will propose the setting up of a dedicated working group.