Class B & the FCC, sounds good
A big thanks to Shine Micro for providing some useful detail about how the FCC is handling Class B AIS. First of all, the MMSI’s will be just like those used in DSC VHF’s (in fact, should be the same one already programmed into your boat’s radio). So, if your vessel requires an FCC station license, then you use the included MMSI. Otherwise you can use a free MMSI for a Class B transponder. And programming the MMSI is going to be left up to the manufacturer, who can do it themselves or pass it on to the dealer or user. However, the FCC is mandating that manufacturers preprogram all Class B devices with a unique unit identifier in the Vendor ID field of Static Data Message 24, and that field must be verified when the MMSI number is programmed during unit activation.
Now, I don’t quite understand how that last part will work in practice but the concept of every transponder having, besides an MMSI, a second fixed unique user ID that also identifies the manufacturer sounds to me like smart security, and a useful trouble shooting tool, without undue burden on anyone.
PS: If your company wants to get into the Class B transponder business, Taiwan manufacturer Alltek Marine has units purportedly ready to hit the approval circuit. They come either with or without a display, the former (below) expected to retail for about $1,000.