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Sunday, April 3, 2011

How close are we to losing 440?

If you've been paying attention to some of the news items this week, legislation is now introduced (by Pete King of New York) that would force amateur radio operators to give up the popular 70cm (440MHz) band by selling the spectrum off to commercial interests that would offset lost revenue from reallocating first responders' frequencies in order to streamline communications. This comes in light of a review by the 9/11 Commission which recommended a more integrated network of communicating with the different agencies to prevent the communications issues that arose during the attacks on September 11, 2001.

The frequencies given to the first responders is the freed up spectrum from the conversion of TV from analog to digital.

Bill HR 607 has now been referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which handles telecommunications legislation. It's one of the beginning steps that is taken to get an act passed through into law. A long ways to go, but when it comes to raising money through a bake sale method, Congress finds ways to move it through in expedited fashion.

There are a couple of obstacles that could get in the way, in the form of two members of Congress who are hams. One is Greg Walden, W7EQI, who made headlines in December when he tweeted in morse code on Twitter that he was going to chair the House Communications Subcommittee. This may be the biggest ally ham radio has, and he's in a powerful position to force the bill back in to revision.

The other congressional ham operator is Representative Mike Ross, WD5DVR of Arkansas. He is a Democrat (Walden is Republican) so the potential for getting support of the opposition of this Bill in its present form on both sides of the aisle is greater.

Another potential ally is Congressman Billy Long of Missouri, who co-sponsored the Bill. He's gone on record in USA Today stating he's willing to come to an amicable solution to ensure that neither the first responders or hams are affected by this spectrum selloff, so we need to hold him to that promise.

The ARRL has a video on the bill.

I can understand the need to raise "bail money" considering the debt we're getting ourselves into, but doing so at the cost of one the best resources for emergency communications is a grave misstep. Besides, there's some spectrum down in the 220 band that was sold off awhile back and look how that turned out. Why not give that to the first responders? Or give it back to the amateur operators who would use it more than it's being used now.

1 comment:

  1. I dont understand why they need more when they just sold all the old TV 700Mhz stuff and are just barely starting too use it, if even think about using it. About 70-80% of Michigan Public Safety all uses 1 statewide digital system and about 10-15% is on VHF. Very little is on UHF here, and its not really needed.

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