Although telecommunications technology is improving quickly, people at sea do not have access to the same telecommunications infrastructure people ashore have. Like people ashore, mariners need to access international shore telephone and data public switched networks. Additionally they need to access many maritime specific communications listed below:
Maritime telecommunications systems must be internationally interoperable. Bringing new telecommunications technology to mariners can be difficult, since to be interoperable, the technology must be affordable, acceptable and available to most ships and maritime countries.
The Coast Guard does not advocate cellular telephones as substitute for the regular maritime radio distress and safety systems recognized by the Federal Communications Commission and the International Radio Regulations — particularly VHF maritime radio. However, cellular phones can have a place on board as an added measure of safety.
Cellular Phone Limitations in an Emergency