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Issue #34: Protect our Airwaves - Can YOU help?

Discussion in 'Trials and Errors - Ham Life with an Amateur' started by W7DGJ, Jan 29, 2024.

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  1. N1YR

    N1YR Ham Member QRZ Page

    I have seen some QRZ posts which argue that the ARRL does nothing about our spectrum. The authors are probably are not aware of anything going on that does not touch them personally. Ask Public Safety users or Television broadcasters how much spectrum they have lost in the last 20 or 30 years.

    Today, in my opinion, just being able to maintain the status quo is a win with the FCC.

    For example, In my almost 15 years as a police radio system supervisor, a major part of my time was spent in projects to replace long distance 'microwave' links in a band at 2100 MHz. The FCC had auctioned the band out from under us for use by cell phones. This was a second round of 'microwave' link migrations to benefit common carriers. Before my involvement, a pair of links in the past at 1900 MHz needed to be migrated to make room for the new at the time PCS service (the original 'Sprint' handhelds).

    At 2100 MHz, there was a ten-year migration period to move our existing links, after which time all the link transmitters were to permanently turn off with no further recourse, ready or not. Fortunately, wireless carriers who sought early adoption of the new frequencies they 'bought' were permitted to 'buy out' the existing link equipment. This provided funding for a majority of the replacement paths. Of course, a buy-out required multiple independent audits of the legacy equipment in operation and its replacements, and pages upon pages of legal agreements. Even better, the carriers had a clearinghouse which allowed one carrier to migrate an entire system, including equipment operating on frequencies bought by other carriers. The carriers could later 'trade' the costs of migrated links on their frequencies with each other.

    Also, Public Safety Agencies which were early adopters of the 866 MHz band experienced much harmful interference when Nextel became 'a thing,' so there was another multi-year project, approved by the FCC and financed by Nextel, to move all the users in that band nationwide to a re-packed 851 MHz band. Nextel would then get its own lebensraum above 862 MHz.

    What spectrum have we lost as hams? Old-old timers may remember 11 meters, or some VHF bands. In my time, we lost 40% of the 220 MHz band. If you haven't tried 222 MHz, it is a marvelous band, combining some of the best features of 2 meters and 440 MHz, assuming you have local activity. Later, there was a new allocation added back at 219-220 MHz, but only for digital point-to-point links.

    We also recently lost spectrum in the 3300 MHz band at 3450-3500 MHz, but it was barely used. Did anyone notice? It's been over 26 years since I made a CW QSO at 3456 MHz.

    Dave, I try to write cleanly. I re-read my submissions several times before posing, and fix words left out of place by cut and paste edits. I was horrified by one of my recent posts, when I noticed a comma that was at the wrong end of a word, and the 'edit post' window had timed out.
    W2EV and W7DGJ like this.
  2. W7DGJ

    W7DGJ Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Hi Tom,

    Great post, thanks. I agree with you that maintaining what we've got IS A WIN. We certainly aren't going to make any big wins going after NEW frequency bands. Just keeping the status quo is terrific news, and the ARRL has been doing that for many years (as Ria points out).

    Thanks for the other comment as well, about editing. Dave, W7DGJ
  3. WA1ZJL

    WA1ZJL Ham Member QRZ Page

    I spent the majority of my career as a broadcast engineer. While reworking an FM antenna system after a tower collapse I got a very good piece of advice from the chief engineer of the antenna manufacturer. Yes, Hal, you could do the engineering exhibits yourself but you're much better off to use one of the consultants that are known before the FCC. I followed that advice and never had one bounce. This has been hinted at in some of the posts. We as individual hams have limited weight in our comments. If some of those who are known for their work in professional radio (and I don't mean just broadcast) join in with their comments that we agree with and maybe cite in our comments we add much credibility to our own comments. If John Doe of Quality Engineering submits comments and they get another thousand saying the same thing each of us has John's credibility due to his comments. What it boils down to is presenting a unified front to the FCC. The technical stuff has to be right and if many of the other comments agree they will be considered. Gut reactions likely won't. I guess this is just a long way of saying that we need to present a unified front to the FCC in order to get things done as we want them. The ARRL lab has the equipment and talent to provide the technical info we need. I'm sure that other groups do too. We all just need to work together to keep amateur radio alive. No matter what the general public may think amateur radio has saved many lives in times of disaster. We need it and they need it too!
    BTW Dave, don't hesitate to edit any of my comments. I try to get the grammar and spelling right but you never know when a stupid error will creep in!
    W7DGJ likes this.
  4. W7DGJ

    W7DGJ Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Hi Harold - your comments resonate. In many cases over my career, when something has gone wrong and a bureaucracy is involved, presenting the "uniform front" has always been the right approach. Bureaucracies seem to be able to withstand a constant barrage of negative pressure, but it reminds me of an old wooden sailing ship getting covered with the prickly arrows of the Natives (our individual comments). The unified front is more like bringing a cannon out to play in that same environment. Dave, W7DGJ (thanks for comment about editing as well)
  5. W2EV

    W2EV Ham Member QRZ Page

    Very interesting and informative!

    Could you expand on what it meant to "permitted to 'buy out'"? That caught me eye.
  6. WB9YZU

    WB9YZU Ham Member QRZ Page

    Interesting subject.
    I have always been of the opinion that the more options (Bands) Hams have, the less chance you will find someone to use all of them.

    When I got into this on HF there were 6 very busy HF Bands and VHF and Above the ever popular 6 and 2m bands were very popular, 220mhz and 70cm, were still being played with, and microwave was for the very adventurous.

    Now we have 10 HF Bands. As a result, though there are more licensed Hams in the US than ever, there are less Hams per spin of the dial.
    Because of cheaper repeaters, seems everyone has one on the bottom 3 VHF/UHF bands. Repeater Associations are having trouble keeping members.
    I can turn on my HT and listen to 2 VHF repeaters that in the past were hotspots, and are dead most of the day.
    I can see where this would give an outsider the impression that we don't use our allotted bands.

    Maybe less was more :)
  7. W3TKB

    W3TKB XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Someone else may have made a similar observation already, as I haven't read through all the replies so far, but here's my thought:

    I am reminded of another organization I belonged to that underwent a similar process, that being the NRA. Originally, the yearly membership dues helped to fund a host of services, only part of which was firearms rights and advocacy for said rights on our behalf by the NRA. But, as the "war on the 2nd Amendment" (their words, not mine) escalated, the NRA formed their own PAC and started soliciting donations above and beyond standard membership to "fund the battle". Problem is, those calls for donations increased to the point where I was receiving flyers in the mail and/or email solicitations AT LEAST once a month. To be honest, it just got to be ridiculous how often they were sticking their hands out for a donation to fight the fight. Never seemed to be enough; there was always some new affront to our rights, some new attack, some new legislation on the docket...that desperately needed to be funded. It got to the point (IMHO) that the original charter and objectives of the NRA were tossed to the wayside, in favor of pushing and funding the PAC.

    SO...I have no problem with donations to a "ham PAC", but I would caution against letting it grow into a monster that overtakes and devours all the other good things the ARRL does for the hobby.
    N7KO likes this.
  8. N1YR

    N1YR Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hi Ev.
    The FCC rules were that the replacement for displaced connectivity, not necessarily by new microwave, had to be:
    - equivalent (or better) capacity
    - equivalent (or better) reliability, and
    - equivalent (or lower) cost of operation.

    Hence the independent audits of licensed sites in operation, as opposed to showing off surplus equipment no longer in use, or requesting reimbursement for equipment continuing to run on expired licenses.

    The incumbent licensees could choose to accept a new microwave band, fiber optic links, other link options, or "take the money and run" [go QRT]. There was incentive to enter agreements with the early adopters of the frequencies being lost, because if the ten-year period expired, the incumbents would get nothing.

    I specified all our replacements use the lowest frequency band available (5 and 6 GHz) due to the distance of the longest paths, and for service parts compatibility on shorter paths. One path eventually required an eight-foot dish over a six-foot dish at each end to replace single 6-foot dishes at 2.1 GHz.
    W7DGJ and W2EV like this.
  9. K7NGS

    K7NGS Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Good Article Dave.
    W7DGJ likes this.
  10. KT4PH

    KT4PH Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Yeah, it gets tiresome getting the "beg" emails from the NRA several times per week, either in emails or USPS mail. I've already paid off my life membership, gotten all the swag but I'm not seeing much advocacy from them, just a lot of "crying" that they need more money. They don't seem to be doing anything about the idiotic bills being passed in the VA general assembly, but maybe they are and I just don't see it.

    W3TKB and W7DGJ like this.
  11. KQ1V

    KQ1V Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Only this one particular individual can save X. Where have I heard this before?
  12. N6YWU

    N6YWU Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Do any other "hobbies" have PACs? How did they get formed and how well do they work?
  13. W7DGJ

    W7DGJ Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    What does this refer to please???
  14. KQ1V

    KQ1V Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    OMG, Dave. I posted this on the wrong post! Sorry - so much for multitasking on a Friday.

    Great article, as always.
  15. W7DGJ

    W7DGJ Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Thank you Hank. We all pull the wrong switch from time to time --it's called "being human." Dave (Sure appreciate your comment!)
    KQ1V likes this.

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