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Comment Sought on Request for Maritime Survivor Locating Device Waiver

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Released: June 27, 2012


Federal Communications Commission

News Media Information 202-418-0500

445 12th St., S.W.

TTY: 1-888-835-5322

Washington, D.C. 20554

DA 12-1002

Released: June 27, 2012




WT Docket No. 12-176

Comment Date: July 27, 2012

Reply Date: August 13, 2012

On April 30, 2012, Whiffletree Corporation Inc. (Whiffletree) filed on behalf of Seareka a request
for waiver of Section 80.1061 of the Commission's Rules1 to permit equipment certification and use of
Seareka’s Maritime Survivor Locating Device (MSLD), which operates on frequency 869.40-869.65
MHz, for use in man-overboard incidents. 2 The Seareka MSLD is designed to be worn on a life vest or
other survival equipment and is activated by inflating the vest or submerging the MSLD. Upon activation,
the MSLD sends a signal with a unique digital code indentifying the individual in distress and the
individual’s GPS position to a receiver onboard the parent vessel, and to any other vessel in the vicinity
with a Seareka receiver. A waiver of Part 80 is required because currently there are no provisions in the
rules for such a device.
Whiffletree states that the Seareka system is currently used for marine rescue in Europe and Asia.
In the United States, frequency 869.40-869.65 MHz is used for cellular telephone service.3 Whiffletree
argues that using a different frequency in the United States would have a negative impact by increasing
production costs, and impairing rescue efforts by reducing the number of vessels that receive the signal.
It also argues that the Seareka system is unlikely to cause interference to cellular communications because
the MSLD uses a polite protocol that transmits only when the frequency is quiet, and transmits a short
(120 millisecond) low power (500 milliwatts) digital burst. It believes that the chance of interference is
further reduced by the fact that the system is most likely to be used in open water.
Section 80.1061 of the Commission's Rules specifies minimum operational performance
standards for Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons, including (1) use of the frequencies in the
406.0 MHz to 406.1 MHz band; (2) a “homing” beacon operating only on 121.500 MHz that is an integral
part of the device; (3) an effective radiated power of 5 watts ± 2 dB after 48 hours of continuous operation

1 47 C.F.R. § 80.1061.
2 Letter to the Federal Communications Commission from George E. Lariviere, Vice President, Whiffletree
Corporation Inc., dated April 30, 2012.
3 See 47 C.F.R. § 22.905(a).

and without replacement or recharge of batteries; (4) an identification code programmed into the device
and registered by the user with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; and (5) required
testing by a lab recognized by COSPAS/SARSAT partners as well as an independent lab. Because of the
size and use of the Seareka system, Whiffletree seeks waiver of the frequency and power standards,
identification code requirements, and testing requirements in Section 80.1061. Whiffletree states that the
Seareka MSLD meets the applicable parts of Radio Technical Commission for Maritime Services
Recommended Standards for Maritime Survivor Locating Devices,4 and that it will submit test results to
the U.S. Coast Guard for approval that it meets the RTCM recommended standards.

Procedural Matters

Comments on the request are due no later than July 27, 2012. Reply comments are due no later
than August 13, 2012. All filings should reference the docket number of this proceeding,

WT 12-176.

This proceeding has been designated as a “permit-but-disclose” proceeding in accordance with the
Commission's ex parte rules.5 Persons making ex parte presentations must file a copy of any written
presentation or a memorandum summarizing any oral presentation within two business days after the
presentation (unless a different deadline applicable to the Sunshine period applies). Persons making oral ex
parte presentations are reminded that memoranda summarizing the presentation must (1) list all persons
attending or otherwise participating in the meeting at which the ex parte presentation was made, and (2)
summarize all data presented and arguments made during the presentation. If the presentation consisted in
whole or in part of the presentation of data or arguments already reflected in the presenter’s written
comments, memoranda or other filings in the proceeding, the presenter may provide citations to such data or
arguments in his or her prior comments, memoranda, or other filings (specifying the relevant page and/or
paragraph numbers where such data or arguments can be found) in lieu of summarizing them in the
memorandum. Documents shown or given to Commission staff during ex parte meetings are deemed to be
written ex parte presentations and must be filed consistent with rule 1.1206(b). In proceedings governed by
rule 1.49(f) or for which the Commission has made available a method of electronic filing, written ex parte
presentations and memoranda summarizing oral ex parte presentations, and all attachments thereto, must be
filed through the electronic comment filing system available for that proceeding, and must be filed in their
native format (e.g., .doc, .xml, .ppt, searchable .pdf). Participants in this proceeding should familiarize
themselves with the Commission’s ex parte rules.
Comments may be filed using the Commission's Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS) or by
filing paper copies. See Electronic Filing of Documents in Rulemaking Proceedings, 63 Fed. Reg. 24121
(1998). Comments filed through the ECFS can be sent as an electronic file via the Internet to http:// Generally, only one copy of an electronic submission must be filed. If multiple
docket or rulemaking numbers appear in the caption of this proceeding, however, commenters must transmit
one electronic copy of the comments to each docket or rulemaking number referenced in the caption. In
completing the transmittal screen, commenters should include their full name, U.S. Postal Service mailing
address, and the applicable docket or rulemaking number. Parties may also submit an electronic comment
by Internet e-mail. To get filing instructions for e-mail comments, commenters should send an e-mail to, and should include the following words in the body of the message, “get form.” A sample
form and directions will be sent in reply.

4 RTCM 11901.0, Version 1.0, RTCM Paper 240-2004/SC119-STD with Amendment 1. RTCM has updated this
standard in document RTCM Paper 219-2011-SC119-155 CDV – RTCM 11901.1, RTCM Standard for Maritime
Survivor Locating Devices.
5 See 47 C.F.R. §§ 1.1200(a), 1.1206.

Parties who choose to file by paper must file an original and one copy of each filing. If more than
one docket or rulemaking number appears in the caption of this proceeding, commenters must submit two
additional copies for each additional docket or rulemaking number.
Filings can be sent by hand or messenger delivery, by commercial overnight courier, or by first-
class or overnight U.S. Postal Service mail (although we continue to experience delays in receiving U.S.
Postal Service mail). All filings must be addressed to the Commission's Secretary, Office of the Secretary,
Federal Communications Commission.
-Effective December 28, 2009, all hand-delivered paper filings for the Commission’s Secretary
must be delivered to FCC Headquarters at 445 12th St., S.W., Room TW-A325, Washington, DC 20554. All
hand deliveries must be held together with rubber bands or fasteners. Envelopes must be disposed of before
entering the building. The filing hours at this location are 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.


Commission’s former filing location at 236 Massachusetts Ave., N.E. is permanently closed.
-Commercial overnight mail (other than U.S. Postal Service Express Mail and Priority Mail) must
be sent to 9300 East Hampton Drive, Capitol Heights, MD 20743.
-U.S. Postal Service first-class mail, Express Mail, and Priority Mail should be addressed to 445
12th Street, S.W., Washington, DC 20554.
Parties are requested to send one copy of their comments and reply comments to Best Copy and
Printing, Inc., Portals II, 445 12th Street, S.W., Room CY-B402, Washington, D.C. 20554, (800) 378-3160,
The request, and comments and reply comments filed in response to this Public Notice are available
for viewing via the Commission's Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS) by entering the docket

WT 12-176

. The documents also will be available for public inspection and copying during
business hours in the FCC Reference Information Center, Portals II, 445 12th Street S.W., Room CY-A257,
Washington, D.C. 20554. They may also be purchased from Best Copy and Printing, Inc., telephone (800)
378-3160, facsimile (202) 488-5563, TTY (202) 488-5562, e-mail
Alternate formats of this Public Notice (computer diskette, large print, audio recording, and Braille)
are available to persons with disabilities by contacting the Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau at
(202) 418-0530 (voice), (202) 418-0432 (TTY), or send an e-mail to
For further information, contact Mr. Jim Shaffer of the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau,
Mobility Division, at (202) 418-0687,
Action by the Deputy Chief, Mobility Division, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau.
- FCC -

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