As you will be aware a large number of VHF channels are changing on or around 1 October, 2016. New Zealand, along with a number of other countries, is required to make these changes to make space for newly allocated services for international ship tracking and data services which will ensure New Zealand VHF radio services are compatible with the rest of the world.
The changes will largely affect Coastguard licenced VHF and Now Casting channels. As most of the channels affected are in the 80’s series – the majority of these changes will affect Northern Region, however there will be changes in other regions too, just not as many. All Now Casting channels will be changing too.
Coastguard has been working closely with Radio Spectrum Management (a business unit of Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment), Broadcast Services Limited and Maritime New Zealand to manage these changes. Coastguard is committed to advising our stakeholders (boaties who use our VHF channels) what our Coastguard channels will be changing to. Two maps have been produced to show the old and new channel changes. One map displays the old and new VHF channels that are changing (along with ship to ship), and the other displays the old and new Now Casting channels. These maps are displayed on CNZ websites as well as the all-important www.retune.co.nz website.
Here in The Marlborough Sounds area the channels that will be effected are:
Picton Harbour Radio will change from Ch. 19 to Ch. 18
Wellington Coastguard Weather Now Casting will change from Ch. 23 to Ch. 20
Wellington Regional Council Weather Now Casting will change from Ch. 21 to Ch. 19
Tasman Coastguard Weather Now Casting will change from Ch. 22 to Ch. 79
It is important to note that although some VHF maritime channels will be changing, the existing marine Channel 16 used for safety and distress purposes will not change.
Please note the current channels (which are referred to as ‘old’ in the maps) are effective until 1 October 2016, and switch over will occur to the new channels within two weeks of this date. Once the switch has been made, the old channel will immediately become obsolete – there will be no simultaneous running of both channels so it is imperative to get this message out prior to the channels changing.
We anticipate the boating public will be will be concerned about whether they will need to buy a new VHF radio. No one should need to buy a new VHF Radio to access the new VHF channels – all current VHF radios will be able to access the new channels. It is simply a matter of knowing which channel to switch to in the boaties preferred location.
Now Casting Channel Changes
There is an important change to be aware of affecting Coastguard Now Casting Channels. The ‘official’ new channel number will consist of four digits (the old/current channels currently consist of two digits). However, 99% of VHF radios currently operating in New Zealand use only two digits, so for this reason only the last two digits of the new Now Casting channels will be communicated to the general public which have been clearly displayed on the Now Casting map.
The new four digit channel numbers have been allocated internationally as they are in a different frequency range, and affect the Coastguard Now Casting weather services only, not the VHF channels (which still only have two digits). Four digit channels were created to ‘future proof’ the anticipated long term change to four digit VHF radios – but that is quite a way off (decades in fact) before they will be widely used. We have included a message on the Now Casting map stating that ‘Newer VHF Radios may have four digits. If so, please add 20 before new channels eg – 19 becomes 2019, 79 becomes 2079’ – but there are very few of these radios in the marketplace.
The website www.retune.co.nz contains in-depth information about the changes and contains both maps with old and new channels. Please take a look at www.retune.co.nz.
There is no public phone number in any of the advertising collateral for people to call – the website is the first port of call for information, however if a member of the public wishes to know more they can phone the Ministry of Business Innovation, Employment on 0508 RSM INFO (0508 776 463). Timing is critical now to advise the public of these changes, the campaign began on 5 September 2016 and will and continue through until February 2017.
You can pick up an information booklet and sticker with the new information for free at the Waikawa Boating Club.