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HF/SSB radio email and voice services

HF/SSB Radio Email

BRUNEI BAY RADIO operates two HF/SSB radio e-mail services covering SE Asia - and beyond - in an approximately 4000 nautical mile radius from our base here at Brunei; on the north-west coast of Borneo, at the geographic centre of SE Asia.

The two BRUNEI BAY RADIO email services provide truly low-cost email for a variety of requirements in isolated locations with no email service, or where available services are unreliable, irregular or too expensive.

Both services are based upon the most successful combination of radio, radio modem and software in the world. For example, this tightly integrated hardware/software combination is also used by the USA government for its public access natural disaster email network, by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology to gather weather data from remote islands in the Pacific, and by remote tourist lodges in Africa to manage bookings and administration.

Alternate remote area email services - eg: via satellite - were developed as profit-making businesses with features to increase and justify charges. BRUNEI BAY RADIO's HF/SSB email services were designed from the opposite perspective, to function efficiently with the minimum of base station resources, with low-cost network integration, minimal administration, extreme reliability, and effective data transfer speeds to reduce connection time. The services also operate without the need for an expensive rocket-scientist to sustain, repair or manage the system.

This design philosophy was adopted because the system developers and software programmers' are also sailors who want to spend time on their passion - sailing and living on their boats. The efficient hardware/software integration was not developed with the intention of creating a full-time management or maintenance job for themselves. For example, the sailor who developed the base-station software and message management system is a regular participant in the world's high profile sailing events. He has been the navigator on Playstation (record breaking long-distance multi-hull), ABN Ambro One (Volvo Ocean race) and is now part of the next UK Americas Cup team.

Designed, programmed and supported by sailors (who are also smart computer people), BRUNEI BAY RADIO's HF/SSB email services integrate smart German modem technology with base station and user software that maximises data compression and minimises message handling overheads to create efficient and low-cost data transfer.

This smart efficiency is a unique combination that helps limited-budget cruising yachts, recreational tourism vessels (eg: dive, surf and yacht charter operations), and small commercial vessels to stay connected and receive essential weather and safety information. It also puts reliable email within the financial reach of isolated community-based ecotourism projects, not-for-profit conservation groups and small-scale ecotourism businesses; to help create local jobs and income. 



This is the low-cost HF/SSB radio e-mail service developed specifically for cruising yachts,  motor-yachts and racing yachts with basic email requirements. With a daily connection time limit of 12 minutes, no attachments - apart from weather data - and a world wide coverage via twenty linked stations, this service has proven itself to be the most popular email service for cruising yachts around the world.

The on-board software includes easy access to a variety of weather and safety related information and services suited to the needs of cruising and racing. This includes GRIB wind/wave/weather charts, official METAREA and local coastal/regional weather forecasts, and web-based position reporting using YOTREPS, 

SailMail has become the first choice for most cruising power and sailing yachts because of the extremely reliable message management, efficient operation, low cost and support from like-minded sailors. 

Brunei Bay Radio HF/SSB Email:

This radio email service is an extension of the proven SailMail technology. It has been developed specifically for this region to address the need for low-cost but dependable email requirements. It has longer daily connection time allowances than SailMail, and it allows attachments, such as Word, Excel, jpg, pdf and OpenOffice files.

This service is particularly useful for marine tourism operators - live aboard dive boats, fishing charters, charter yachts - in addition to small commercial vessels, such as coastal traders, fishing trawlers, tugs, barges, survey and support vessels. And also for isolated islands, remote work sites, tourist resorts, conservation projects and communities where alternate e-mail communication is either not available, difficult, costly or unreliable.

It's also very suited to long-term cruisers in the BBR service area, and in particular for family cruisers with children enrolled in correspondence schooling. And for cruisers who require more connection time to stay in contact with business, or manage investments - such as real estate - while cruising. It removes the need to cruise just from one internet cafe or Wi-Fi equipped marina to the next.  Many of the great cruising attractions in SE Asia are not in the built up areas. Cruising these uncrowded islands, small communities, beautiful beaches and clear water anchorages is also far less expensive than the high density marina route. 

Operational aspects of BBRemail:

  • Commercial vessels, islands or jungle locations with substantial power supplies and larger antennas than most cruising yachts, can expect higher data transfer speeds.

  • The base station hardware/software and subscriber hardware/software is identical to SailMail. Therefore this BBRemail service has the same great system reliability, and the same goals of transferring the most data in the most efficient manner with the least resources, low administrative overheads and minimal supervision. This equals low-cost.

  • Because the on-board software is the same as SailMail, the same copy can manage a subscription to both SailMail and BBRemail for those people who  need more connection time; for example, circumnavigating SailMail users who decide to spend a year or more cruising SE Asia and want the freedom to cruise the less populated and cheaper locations, away from marina Wi-Fi and internet cafes.

  • Operated from commercial vessels, islands or jungle locations with substantial power supplies and larger antennas than most cruising yachts, this BBRemail service gives extremely convenient, reliable, fast and cost-effective email communications. 

  • Send a picture of a broken part so the replacement sent is correct; first time. 


Advantages of using HF/SSB radio email: 

  • Reliable exchange of messages about spare part requirements, crew and guest arrivals/departure details, marina berth reservations, food re-supplies, and finances.  

  • Reliable reception of weather forecasts and  warnings, including GRIB files (weather charts with isobars and wind direction/strength information), official METAREA forecasts and Buoyweather wind/wave  predictions - with thunderstorm risk level.

  • Convenient position reporting and automated website display using the free YOTREPS system.

  • More confidential than radio voice communication.  

  • Messages are transferred accurately.

  • Messages get through despite difficult propagation or interference which can disrupt voice communication. 

  • Comparable in speed to the "low-cost" satellite systems such as Iridium and Mini M. Similar to an old 1200 baud modem.

  • More reliable in this region than "low-cost" satellite systems; communication is not lost during heavy cloud cover or rain. 

  • Approx 10% to 40% (depending on traffic levels) of the operating cost of "low-cost" satellite email systems. No big monthly bills.

  • An Amateur Radio license is not required. The normal radio licence and assigned call-sign is all that is needed.


Equipment used for HF/SSB e-mail has multiple uses:

  • An existing HF/SSB radio voice installation can be the basis for a radio e-mail service.  Many modern HF/SSB radios are suitable. Correct cabling is required to link different radio brands/models with the HF radio modem and on-board computer. 

  • The high speed HF/SSB radio modem connects between the PC or notebook and the radio. With many radios the modem can control the radio frequency directly on instructions from the software. This German made modem can also receive weather fax and NAVTEX transmissions; where these services are available.  

  • The computer running the software to create, send and receive e-mail messages can also be used for navigation software, tide software, accounting packages, guest booking software, staff administration, school coursework, etc. 

  • The HF/SSB radio can be used for free voice communication between vessels, conservation project sites, remote communities etc.

  • At times when regular shore based communication networks are damaged or overloaded - eg: the Asian Tsunami - HF/SSB radio communication still works.



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V8V2222    SelCall ID: 2222

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