May 30 2020
Satellite phone to aid fishing in troubled waters
04 February 2018

After Ockhi, fishermen want reliable means of communication

When cyclone Ockhi was churning the sea last December, the fishermen in their boats had no means to communicate with the world or figure out their exact location. It now appears that some good may well come from the tropical storm. The cyclone has speeded up the process of getting a reliable mode of communication on board the fishing crafts, an alternative to the mobile phone, which only has coverage up to 12 nautical miles (one nautical mile equals 2 km). The solution most fishermen prefer is a satellite phone.

Various options

Tamil Nadu Fisheries Minister D. Jayakumar, who recently witnessed a demonstration of a satellite phone from BSNL, said they were mulling various options, including Medium Frequency-High Frequency radio (costing upwards of ₹3 lakh) and satellite phones.

In the wake of the cyclone, members of various fishermen associations have been demanding some kind of communication equipment aboard fishing craft. “Even if we do not have land-to-boat communication, we should be able to share information between crafts and also to a particular point on the shore. The Sat-phone allows fishermen to make calls to anyone under the sky,” said M.D. Dayalan of the Indian Fishermen Association.

Ujjwal Karwani of Virtuoso Technologies, who gave a demonstration of the BSNL phone to fishermen in Kasimedu, said the initial cost would be around ₹1.35 lakh, after which an annual payment was necessary for the SIM card.

Sources in the Fisheries Department explained that anyone using wireless equipment for communication required a licence from the Wireless Planning Commission. “There are stringent norms. For each instrument, everyone from the manufacturer to the beneficiary is tracked. Even for the VHF (very high frequency) scheme, which was implemented in Ramanathapuram on a pilot basis, we had to go through this. VHF sets of 5 watt power for use till 12 nautical miles and 25 watt power for coverage up to 25 nautical miles are now being provided to crafts in the State,” the official said.



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