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back to article EU approves on-board GSM for cruisers

The EU has approved the use of on-boat GSM base stations, but users will have to remain below decks once they're within a couple of miles of the shore. The agreement covers all ships in European waters. Those on board will be able to run GSM services at 900 and 1800MHz as long as they stay below decks once they vessel is within …

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GSM range can be impressive

Last year we took a med cruise and I was surprised to find that out on the sea between Barcelona and Villefranche (near Nice) I could pick up an Algerian network when I ran a network detect. I also got Tunisian networks while sailing around Sicily on the way to Santorini..

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Nautical towers are more powerful than land too

Back in NZ, it was common to make cell calls from the fishing fleet out to about 50NM offshore because the marine transmitters had directional cells instead of round ones - they threw the signal a lot further out to sea than on land. I believe the max range was around 150NM but that was on the old telecom analogue network. GSM was significantly less. Probably something to do with horizons too.

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FAIL

So how do we..

make a claim against the ship (which we may not even be aware of) that has 'stolen' our network connection and slapped on a hefty bit of extortion?

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Stay Below Decks - Why?

Why do users have to stay below decks when within 12nm of the shore? Is it something to do with making sure their mobile phone doesn't log into a land based network?

Will ferry and cruiser security staff be patrolling the decks when the vessel gets within 12nm to make sure no sneaky, cheapskate passengers/crew are making 'cheap' calls by using any accessible land based networks as they approach the shore?

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They'll just switch off

Surely it won't be difficult to control radio access areas within a steel box subdivided into smaller steel boxes. Who knows you could probably track you kids (husband/wife) round the ship by which pico cell they are on.

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Auto network selection...

... seems to need some tweaking for cases like this. I'd like to be able to set my phone to roam automatically to any network that's covered by the EU charge cap but not automatically connect to private networks. In fact, I'm not even sure a private network that's not covered by the charge cap should be allowed to automatically register handsets without some indication of what the charges are likely to be.

On a ferry across the north sea a year or two ago I didn't realise that there even was an onboard network until I received an incoming call and I saw an unusual network name displayed - there were no obvious notices on board about it or the roaming charges.

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Unhappy

I'M ON THE CRUISE

Delightful...even at the Captain's Table, you won't escape the morons for whom their ringing phone has priority over all else.

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all your handsets are belong to us?

So,

1) fit out a powerboat with openbts + uplink + several 'eye catching models' etc

2) Buzz past any cruise ships and wait for punters to snap pics, tweet etc

3) profit as they end up using *your* uplink to post the pics

Win :-)

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Pornography on the high seas?

Beautifully worded, Bill, always nice to start the week with a laugh

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Pirate

Here's a business model ...

1. Buy yourself a motor boat and a pico-cell

2. Spend your days cruising up and down the Thames in London

3. Profit!

Hmm. The Somali pirates could probably adopt this model too. They could leave their guns at home, and just potter alongside the cruise liners and tankers, leaching GSM connections, instead of attacking them.

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Boffin

Range for detection != usable range

You can "see them" but you cannot use them.

The maximum distance from cell tower in GSM is fixed and limited by the range of the timing advance parameter. I cannot remember the actual values off the top of my head, but they were somewhere in the range of low tens of km for 900 and AFAIK even lower than that for 1800. So while you can see networks from afar at see or in the mountains, your cellphone cannot attach to them and make calls.

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FAIL

Not good news

Bad news I think for end users -- I've been on a number of cruises -- each time the ships had an onboard GSM cell, but rates are huge.

As such the hour or so when close to shore makes for an ideal time to make calls/send textx etc at slightly more reasonable roaming rates easily. Now with the local signal being so strong users will have to be very very careful not to get hit by a big bill.

Not a step forward IMO

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FAIL

should be opt-in

I think there needs to be an opt-in for this -- network rejects association unless previously registered. Perhaps a way to make that simple, but "catching" unaware consumers is absolutely not on.

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Opt-in

I have experience only of Nokia phones, but they've all had an option for manual network selection.

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It's high time....

That operators start working with 1 fixed rate EU-wide.

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