Reliable radio communication is crucial for border surveillance and protection. Customs uses short- and long-range radio communication equipment that includes transportable units for remote areas and waterproof sets for the marine environment. Communication is possible between Customs marine craft and commercial ships and yachts.
High-frequency (HF) radio is installed in all Customs vessels, Customs Coastwatch aircraft, and regional and district offices and vehicles. Transportable units are available for remote areas. There is also an encrypted short-text-messaging system.
Satellite equipment including MobileSat, Globalstar and Inmarsat supplement the HF network.
All Customs vessels use HF-based maritime messaging that allows e-mail messages, including attachments such as digital photographs, to be sent via the Internet. This system uses a commercial global cellular network.
To support operations in local areas within a radius of 40-50km, ultra high frequency (UHF) radios are also installed in all vessels, Customs Coastwatch aircraft and regional and district offices and vehicles. Portable radios are also used, especially at airports and wharf/cargo areas. Waterproof kits and harnesses are used in marine environments and in hazardous areas. Covert kits are available for surveillance or hands-free use.
To support operations which may extend beyond a fixed UHF network, portable repeater stations are available in each region. Customs Coastwatch aircraft are also capable of providing an airborne repeater function.
To converse with commercial shipping, yachts and other vessels, all Customs marine craft also have marine very high frequency radios installed.
Where the need exists, UHF citizen band and 27 MHz citizen band radios have also been installed. To ensure interoperability with other agencies, common frequencies have been programmed into radios in relevant locations.
Radio and satellite communications (140 kb)