Microwave, the real future of EmComm

The recent FCC filings regarding use of HF spectrum for long haul digital messages may be less relevant in view of the following recent developments in use of cutting edge technology in the Microwave spectrum. Some filings on RM-11708, FM-11759, and RM-11785 have focused primarily in use of HF rather than Microwave or existing VHF/UHF resources. The HF spectrum does not have sufficient band width to support the volume of data for this use. Quickly deployable microwave repeaters dedicated to emergency reponders are showing their effectiveness in the hands of trained government officials. Even ARRL notes this in their bulletin below.

South African Hams use microwave mesh network to provide first responders internet and voice connectivity:

"John Terblanche, ZS1I, in Mossel Bay, who administers the Amateur Radio Emergency Data Network (AREDN) Mossel Bay Mesh Network, said the call for volunteers went out on June 8, after cellphone, Internet and landline telephone service was disrupted in many areas. A half-dozen volunteers reported, an emergency net was activated, and message traffic was handled via the AREDN as well as on HF, VHF, and UHF."

Quickly deployable microwave links for voice and internet for emergency responders as a national initiative:

This may reduce the recent pressure on the HF spectrum asserted in the recent ARRL and Whedbee FCC filings noted above. These filings are on circulation, and one proposed rule making WT 16-239. They have been waiting some time for final action. These recent news developments may give a hint of the FCC's thinking on the matter.

ARRL speaks out on new digital emcomm needs:


We most certainly DO need to reach out to the next generation of "makers". Perhaps a technically inclined middle school student would be interested in amateur radio for a robotics project. Many people used to obtain a Tech license for more effective control of a model airplane, and never considered voice contacts on ham radio. Does this new license promote that kind of use of amateur radio? Do they need HF to accomplish their goals, or is VHF/UHF exactly what they need? Our perception of the "glory days" of HF amateur radio back in the late 50s (record sun spot cycle) may not be what young people of today are excited by. They now have portable devices capable of chatting with anyone (anywhere on the planet), even sending photos and text. Not so long ago, a 2 meter repeater with an autopatch was a compelling demonstration of technology; many repeaters do not even offer a phone patch any more. Why would the idea of limited communicating at much slower speeds at an intermittent connection (due to sunspots) appeal to them?

The target audience for the entry level HF license would likely be a budding "maker". He will be building something or adapting an existing device to his needs. Software defined radio is just such a medium, with the opportunity to experiment with the hardware and software. To succeed, we must adapt our licensing to appeal to that person. This is the correct young person target audience we should address, because they are interested in working with RF. They will make contacts, perhaps using the new narrow band QRP mode, FT8. Maybe they will improve FT8. Those QSOs will be with other ham operators. They will be mentored and assimilate into the amateur radio culture. They will possess the technical skills required to make a meaningful contribution to the state of the art.

Emphatically, I state that we do NOT need anyone simply seeking to dodge charges for sending commercial content email by amateur radio, who will never assimilate into our hobby. They are NOT interested in "experimenting and advancing the state of the radio art" (one of the stated goals in FCC Part 97). And they will not have or ever develop the skills necessary to do so. They do have a legitimate need - better and more affordable global internet connectivity - which the FCC and global corporations need to address in the commercial radio spectrum; but amateur radio was NOT a commercial email service at its inception, nor should it ever become one. Hams definitely do not need a new group who does not understand "listen before transmit" or proper adjustment of transmitters to avoid spurious output; these are only interested in pressing "send" for their email. To them, ham radio is just an AP or an appliance, Internet CB.

Recent efforts trying to turn the amateur radio service into Internet CB, Free email, are becoming more frequent. There already is a provision for that, and it is called - wait for it - CB! NO VE TESTING either. Internet CB is actually a good idea, because it is at microwave frequencies (where it delivers useful speed), it is accessible to non technical people without a test, and repeater systems that forward COMMERCIAL CONTENT messages are LEGAL. So, if you want Internet CB, check this out:


Articles on The ARRL draft HF Band Plan Proposal,
FCC RM-11708, and related subjects
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