Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Hams to lose frequency allocations above 2 Meters

The FCC and Homeland Security have been conducting a systematic and on-going survey of amateur radio frequency use in response to requests from communications industry lobbyists.  The survey has consisted in frequency monitoring and statistical analysis of usage rates and has covered the the past 7 years.

Communications industry lobbyists have complained that amateur frequency allocations in the UHF and higher have caused security concerns related to RF infrastructure and had made the claim that radio amateurs were not making appropriate use of the spectrum.

A new classified report confirms accounts of malicious and childish behavior, not only on the frequencies in the UHF and above, but also on the VHF, HF and LF spectrum allocations.  Recordings of amateurs using profanity, rebroadcasting copyrighted music, engaging in hate speech, etc., reinforced those claims.

A spokesperson for the FCC said, "The very valuable RF spectrum allocated to radio amateurs is being either misused or not used at all."  Amateur radio repeaters, which are used to extend the range of low powered radios, are often idle for days at a time, and in instances when they are in use are mostly used as a chat room for commuters.

The FCC had pointed out the role amateurs play in emergency communications, however the director of Homeland Security made assurances that local, state and federal emergency management agencies, were more than up to the task and not in need of assistance from civilian amateurs.  One official told congress, "let the professionals do their jobs, that's what we pay them for and it's also the reason we give them all that money to buy equipment.  In these modern times of wi-fi, smartphones, Twitter and Facebook there's more than enough ways for people to communicate."

The FCC and Homeland Security have identified the radio frequencies from 148 MHz and up as those the amateurs will no longer have access to beginning within the week.  "The amateurs will need to immediately cease operation on those frequencies and be subject to arrest, fines and imprisonment.
Amateurs will be given until April 30th to remove all equipment capable of transmitting on frequencies in excess of 148 MHz including walkie-talkies, mobile radios, base stations and all associated repeater systems.

The spectrum above 148 MHz will be sold at auction in the coming months and is estimated to be worth over a billion dollars in revenue to the government.

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