Thursday, August 16, 2007

What is ham radio?

1912 marked the beginning of the amateur radio service. It should be noted that there were many radio experimenters or radio amateurs before this time that lead to the discovery of radio. Even after 1912 many important discoveries where made in radio by radio amateurs.

The FCC's section 97.1 defined the basis and purpose of ham radio:

(a) Recognition and enhancement of the value of the amateur service to the public as a voluntary noncommercial communication service, particularly with respect to providing emergency communications.

(b) Continuation and extension of the amateur's proven ability to contribute to the advancement of the radio art.

(c) Encouragement and improvement of the amateur service through rules which provide for advancing skills in both the communications and technical phases of the art.

(d) Expansion of the existing reservoir within the amateur radio service of trained operators, technicians, and electronics experts.

(e) Continuation and extension of the amateur's unique ability to enhance international goodwill.

As you can see the emergency communications part that usually is the first thing to stand out in our minds is actually only a small part of what we are supposed to be. We exist and have access to a very valuable resource (the radio spectrum) because of or contributions, discoveries and experimentation.

Now lets look at that radio spectrum that we are so graciously given...

Amateur Allocations - Little known fact - Did you know in the US amateurs have access to approximately:
3.75 MHz of HF (160m-10m) spectrum
67 MHz of VHF/UHF (6m-33cm) spectrum
24.095 GHz of microwave (23cm-300GHz) spectrum

I hope you can see where our largest frequency allocations are. These are also unfortunately ham radios least actively used allocations. Yet, these higher frequency allocations are typically the ones most actively targeted by companies putting pressure on the FCC. There is little commercial interest in HF frequencies. Companies want to allow unlicensed operations over a wider frequency range (some moneymaking operations like PCS cell phones are actually Part 15 unlicensed transmitters). There is much more amateur spectrum to lose if we don’t use it more actively.

By the way; these truths are the point of my blog.

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