The European Commission has adopted new rules that'll make it easier for passengers and crew on ships in the EU's territorial waters to make mobile phone calls or send and receive text messages when they are out of range of land-based mobile phone networks.
The new rules are designed to end the previous situation where cruise liners, cargo ships and ferries faced a variety of technical and legal requirements for providing on-board mobile services to their customers because each EU country had its own rules.
On-board communication services – known as MCV or 'Mobile Communication services on board Vessels' – will now all use 900MHz and/or 1800MHz GSM frequencies. Mobile phones will connect to an on-board 'pico-cell' linked to the mobile phone network via satellite. There'll be technical standards to prevent mobile users on the coast from inadvertently connecting to on-board systems and there's an EC recommendation that any on-board services operator authorised in one country can provide services anywhere in the EU's waters without the need for further licences.
EU Member States have twelve months to adjust their national laws to comply with the decision.
Neelie Kroes, EU Digital Agenda Commissioner, said "Tens of millions of people who travel and work on ships anywhere in European territorial waters will be able to use their mobile phones without problems of interference as a result of the new rules just adopted by the Commission".