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Maritime Communication Services over 5G systems

Looking at the modernization of the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) in the context of 3GPP specification work.

December 19, 2018

By Hyounhee Koo (SyncTechno), 3GPP MARCOM rapporteur

The first 3GPP Technical Specification covering service requirements (Stage 1) for the support of maritime communication (MARCOM) over 3GPP systems (TS 22.119) was approved last week at the TSG SA Plenary meeting in Sorrento.

The maritime sector, particularly the International Maritime Organization (IMO), have been working on Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) modernization for maritime safety – for terrestrial and satellite systems – to close the ‘information gap’ at sea. In this endeavor, the government of the Republic of Korea and Korean Register (http://www.krs.co.kr) have led the way by advocating 3GPP standard-based networks, such as LTE and 5G, for maritime usage.

The work of 3GPP on bringing together 5G use cases for a variety of vertical domains is creating a unified communication platform that is now a prime candidate to provide a new wave of GMDSS modernization and for broader 5G maritime services.

However, there is work to do. Whereas 3GPP systems exist on land, providing a mature terrestrial radio environment, this is not the case for maritime. The first step that the 3GPP groups and the maritime sector have to achieve is to bring maritime communication into the scope of 3GPP standardization.

A step forward has been achieved with the approval of Stage 1 of the Maritime Communication Services over 3GPP System specification - TS 22.119.

boatMaritime communication is also discussed in coordination with other standardisation forums. The 3GPP activities on maritime communication were presented at the ETSI workshop “Future Evolution of Marine Communication” in 2017 and discussed in 2018 with IALA (an technical association developing marine standards and recommendations). It is expected to continuously increase such interactive collaboration between 3GPP and maritime related organizations.

One of the strengths of the 3GPP approach is the effort to avoid re-inventing the wheel. To this end, wherever possible, the groups will take existing service requirements from 3GPP Stage 1 specifications. Maritime is a good example of this principle, with more general Mission Critical needs covered in other specifications, allowing TS 22.119 to be the deliverable that identifies only specific maritime needs.

Of course, the maritime domain has many specific requirements, many not required in other vertical domains or needed in legacy systems. TS 22.119 concentrates on these needs – bringing in the requirements for some new, exciting areas – including the service requirements for the support of autonomous shipping and the broader digitalization and mobilization of maritime shipping.

A call to action:

Considering 3GPP specifications and studies are contribution-driven, by member companies in Working Groups and at the Technical Specification Group level, it is critical for more maritime related companies to participate for the next steps – Stage 2 and Stage 3 work - based on the new service requirements (Stage 1) specified in TS 22.119.

As MARCOM in 3GPP evolves, it seems set to become a vital part in ensuring that the Increasing use of mobile phone systems in coastal areas is an enabler for e-navigation and to more general maritime terrestrial and satellite systems, with compatibility between maritime and non-maritime networks.

Maritime related work in 3GPP

  • September 2016 : Approval of 3GPP Stage 1 study item FS_MARCOM - Feasibility Study on Maritime Communication Services over 3GPP systems
  • June 2018 : Approval of 3GPP Stage 1 TR 22.819
  • June 2018 : Approval of 3GPP Release 16 Stage 1 work item MARCOM - Work on Maritime Communication Services over 3GPP systems.
  • December 2018 : Approval of 3GPP Release 16 Stage 1, TS 22.119

Related Mission Critical requirements specifications

  • 22.179 Mission Critical Push to Talk (MCPTT) over LTE; Stage 1
  • 22.280 Mission Critical Services Common Requirements
  • 22.281 Mission Critical Video over LTE
  • 22.282 Mission Critical Data over LTE  
Contact for this article: Kevin FLYNN, Marketing and Communications Officer, 3GPP
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