What is the difference between AIS Class B, Class B+ 5w and Class A?

There are 3 types of AIS transponders: Class A, Class B and Class B+ :

  • Class B AIS Transponder is for recreational craft installation and is a simplified, lower powered 2W transceiver which is normally a black box and uses a connected chart plotter to display local AIS targets. It transmits every 30 seconds regardless of vessel speed and can’t transmit additional data like destination port.
  • Class B+ AIS Transponder (also called Class B SOTDMA or Class B 5W ) is a new standard that utilises SOTDMA format transmissions which offer a 5W power output (2.5 x more powerful than a regular Class B), a guaranteed time slot for transmission in busy traffic areas and faster update rates depending upon the speed of the vessel. It’s ideal for ocean sailors requiring the best possible performance and future proof satellite tracking applications, fast power boats and smaller non-mandated commercial vessels.
  • Class A AIS Transponder must have a dedicated (and type approved) display to show the location of nearby AIS targets and transmits at 12.5W. Data is sent at up to every 2 seconds depending upon the vessel speed and the display also allows for data to be inputted to the transmission such as vessel destination. A Class A device is normally used on commercial vessels as its Type Approved to IMO specifications.