The international council which controls the search and rescue satellite system has decided to cease processing 121.5MHz analogue EPIRB signals on February 1 2009.
From that date only digital 406MHz beacons will be detected by satellite the Australian Maritime Safety Authority told GoSee today.
To avoid high demand during the changeover period purchase of a digital unit is strongly encourage by AMSA and Governments Federal and State.
Properly registered digital 406MHz EPIRBs transmit and indentity code which can be cross-referenced with a database maintained by the Australian Marine Safety Authority.
Among other things the information stored on the database tells rescuers who you are, provides information on your vessel or vehicle and contact details for you and the emergency contacts.
This information will help authorities locate you faster and registration is free.
The 406MHz digital units cover the Globe. They provide specific details which allow a phone call to be made to make sure the help signal is not a hoax.
They are amazingly accurate anywhere on earth. We are talking within 150 metres (depending on the EPIRB type)of your actual position.
The soon to be superceded 121.5MHz analogue EPIRBs were effective from 900 to 1500km from the Australian coast. They did not allow specific phone detail.
Dealers have deals which start from about $500 for 406 MHz beacon.