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Re: Going Digital... Ham Radio?

In a message dated 6/7/00 1:31:33 PM Mountain Daylight Time, 
jono@enteract.com writes:

> Why should digital comms be relaxed when other comms can't?  The minute you
>  allow commercial traffic and transactions to take place on ham radio
>  frequencies, you've destroyed the essence of our hobby - the fact that it's
>  a hobby.  Instead it's now a medium where people can make money.  Sure it
>  would attract people, but do you want to tie up the precious little 
>  we have with people doing online shopping and surfing the porn sites?

Sheesh, I made a simple comment about accessing a commercial ham site on the 
Internet (HRO) and it gets extended to using ham radio to surf porn sites. 
Granted, IP content will be a lot more difficult to monitor than FM voice.  
However, based on this reasoning, it looks like we will never have access to 
a general purpose, high speed Internet connection that uses ham radio 
frequencies (although it's OK for non-hams to have access to it!).  That begs 
the question as to whether we will ever need anything faster than 9600 or for 
that matter, 1200, baud for digital communications. 

The Hamnet proposal (i.e. broadcasting every piece of ham related news each 
day to your local computer) while interesting, is not very compelling to me.  
 It feels too much like a packet BBS.  We might as well stick with 1200 baud 
if all we intend to do is read text newsgrams.  The thing that makes the 
Internet appealing is its immediacy, rich content, and INTERACTIVITY.  
>  >Prior to
>  > that, the first round of packet arrived before pervasive Internet
>  connections
>  > and made email and BBS applications practical.  In a way, it was the
>  > predecessor to the Internet.
>  Not really.  The internet has really been around since the 1960s (DARPANET 
>  think it was called then).  I think AX.25 packet radio came along sometime
>  in the late 70s or early 80s.

A lot of things were around in the 1960s that took a long time to get public 
acceptance.  I've been working in the high tech industry for 20 years and can 
assure you that people had access to packet BBS systems and email boxes with 
ham radio before Internet email was commonplace.  You may be too young to 
remember 300 baud dial up BBS's but they existed well into the early 1980's.  
That means that hams were communicating at 4 times the data rate available to 
non-hams and were doing it over RF and building a linked network to boot!  
Now that picture is completely reversed.  Non-hams are even using wireless 
devices on shared amateur frequencies that are many times faster than what we 
have been able to achieve ourselves.

Maybe ham radio and high speed digital communications are an incompatible 
mix.  After all, why do we need to move lots of data if we don't have access 
to that much of it to begin with?  The ARRL can transmit keps and newsgrams 
via 1200 baud packet in a tiny fraction of the bandwidth available.  They can 
even use HF RTTY (and they DO!) .  Thus there may not ever be a compelling 
need to have a high speed wireless digital communications product for ham 
operators.  This is because the data that could be accessed with it would 
'destroy the essence of the hobby.'

>  > What can the ham radio community do for an encore?
>  Why do we NEED to do one?

Why? Because one of the stated purposes of ham radio is to 'advance the 
state-of-the-art'.  We are sitting on a ton of underutilized bandwidth 
because we've farmed it out for inefficient uses such as private repeaters 
that only stir the airwaves with their IDers.  We've seen non-licensed 
devices permeate the 900 MHz band and are waiting for the 2.4Mhz band to be 
gobbled up by the same.  If we don't find a ham use for this bandwidth, the 
commercial interests we share it with most certainly will.

I guess ham radio attracts all kinds and what is cool technology to one of us 
may appear patently ridiculous to another.  Satellite technology is cool.  
Even lay people  are fascinated with it. If you don't believe it, do a demo 
sometime.  1200 baud BBSs are no longer cool.  APRS breathed some new life 
into low speed packet and without that, it's unlikely we'd even be discussing 
it on this (a satellite) forum.  Digital communications needs another shot in 
the arm.


Lee Devlin, KØLEE  (K0LEE)
Greeley, CO
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