Communications

Broadcast Services Ltd looks after the Coastguard Northern Region which currently operates an extensive network of VHF marine repeaters and associated UHF linking sites, Weather channels, and IP monitoring systems. These coupled with the digital radio dispatch system located at the Auckland Marine Rescue Centre are the backbone of Coastguard’s marine search rescue communications system.

CG Speed Boat

All of this equipment from the design, installation, and on-going maintenance is provided by BSL, and includes ICT support for IP linking and Microwave links for their communications backbone to MRC. The Coastguard sites vary from large installations co-siting with major service providers to small solar sites up and down the coastline with the transmissions from both coasts brought back to the MRC via a network of UHF and MW links.

In 2005 BSL was asked to reconfigure the VHF marine channel network so that the ship to shore channels were all moved into the channel 80 to 86 group, and the ship to ship channels were moved into the 60-66 group. This required a major redesign of the Coastguard marine network to provide isolation with the many repeaters up and down New Zealand’s long and narrow East and West coastlines.

In 2013 Coastguard Northern Region undertook a major refit of its Auckland Marine Rescue Center communications facilites, replacing the analogue radio dispatch system with a fully digital Radio over IP system, the Omnitronics DX Altus. BSL was the selected installer of the Altus system and performed a phased parallel installation, troubleshooting and hand over while ensuring all communications facilities continued uninterrupted.

In recent years BSL has also taken on the management of Coastguard Eastern Region's Radio over IP links joining the individual Coastguard units up and down the east coast of the North Island to the Eastern Region comms center located at the Whakatane Coastguard. Subsequently a new radio dispatch system was installed at Mt. Maunganui where Coastguard Eastern Region now monitors its channels.

Work is continuing to share VHF marine services between the Northern and Eastern region utilising standard VHF radio and the versatility of Radio over IP technology as opportunities to do so arise, remote Coastguard Southern Region sites are also gradually being added.

In 2016 BSL coordinated changing channels on the majority of Coastguard marine repeaters up and down the country in line with international requirements. Careful planning was required to implement this change with minimal disruption for this safety of life service and the changeover was completed within a couple of weeks either side of the October 1 cut-over date. The project involved re-tuning or swapping marine repeaters and IP monitoring sets as well as updating the configuration of the Costguard Northern Region and Coastguard Eastern Region IP radio dispatch systems.