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Friday, October 8, 2010

Speaking of 220 MHz...

Continuing on from my previous post, while I'm on the subject of 220 MHz (1.25 meters), I welcome more 220 radios into ham radio. It seems like the 220 MHz market is thin, but there's an obvious reason. Very few countries have privileges on the 1.25 meter band; the US, Canada, and Mexico primarily here in Region 2, and no other countries in regions 1 or 3, except Somalia in Region 1. Because of this limitation, the big companies (Yaesu/Vertex, ICOM, Alinco, and Kenwood) don't deal much in the way of 220 simply because they cannot readily modify the equipment for other countries in order to sell the same model radios.

It's basic economics, really. Take a Kenwood TS-2000 HF/All-mode transceiver. This radio can be modified slightly (mainly in the power plug) in order for it to be sold in other countries like Japan, the UK, and Australia. Most of these countries have the same privileges for most of the bands that radio can transmit. Since they can sell these radios to several countries, they can manufacture more of them. Because they can manufacture more, they can buy parts in greater bulk, lowering the price of producing, thus lowering the price they can sell for a profit.

Radios with 220 capability will not be manufactured in larger quantities, so the parts cost more to order in less bulk, and increase the costs to manufacture. The higher the cost to produce, the higher the price in order to turn a profit.

It's a double-edged sword of sorts. There is a demand for more 220 radios, but the prices are higher than desired for many on a budget like myself. The prices are high because the manufacturing costs are higher for 220 than for 2m/440 dual-band radios. Unfortunately the threshold for the demand does not exceed the incentive to lower the prices to more competitive levels and invite more hams onto the band.

Yet, the band's inactivity results in a constant threat to that band being sold off to other services. It partially happened around 1988 when a portion of the band from 220-222 MHz was sold to UPS (though never used).

That's why I welcome the Wouxun radios. They offer use of the 220 MHz band at a great price and they hopefully will re-ignite interest in the band. 2 meters is already overcrowded in many parts of the country, and the 70cm band (440 MHz) is used, but has more limitations, namely in distance.

I'm hoping Wouxun will make a 220 MHz mono-band radio (HT and mobile). The prices they offer should be completely affordable and it might spark other companies to not only manufacture more 220 equipment, but also at an affordable price, same as 2 meters.

220 is a great band, with good propagation, signal quality, and the ability to continue use inside a building. Hopefully Wouxun will get the market for 1.25 meters in a renaissance of sorts, and we'll be able to drop the argument that no one is on that band.

1 comment:

  1. Don't forget That Jetstream makes an awesome 220 rig that competes with the Alinco 220 rig.