The Future Of Ham Radio | 2000.06.17 "The Role of Amateur Radio in the New Century" By Dale N. Hatfield, W0IFO
If ham radio has a crystal ball then Dale N. Hatfield, W0IFO scored with "The Role of Amateur Radio in the New Century."
I want a map of understanding as the challenges of the future define the context of my life. The future is here, right now, and its shock wave continues expanding. In effect, I'm restructuring, redefining, and allocating personal resources both in thought and action as the future defines my lifestyle. Or does my lifestyle define the future?
In either case, examining "The Role of Amateur Radio in the New Century" opened my eyes to the broader context shaping ham radio's future. Hatfield illuminated with clarity those topics which are gestating at this moment.
Spectrum As A Natural Resource.
Who thought that our radio spectrum would define itself as a "natural resource." The day is here and now. I took for granted that endless ocean called the ionosphere. My perception being that our spectrum belonged to ham radio under the auspices of the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) hence I'm a stakeholder. Admittedly, I was filled with youthful exuberance but the pragmatics of today dictate otherwise.
New wireless communication pressures are weighing heavily on our spectrum especially in the microwave range.
- "The increasing mobility of our workforce."
- "The convenience and increased efficiency produced by mobile/portable communications."
- "The increasing performance and falling cost of wireless devices."
- "The dramatically growing interest in accessing the Internet on a wireless basis."
Furthermore a new concept is floated in his remarks to AMRAD and it is spectrum drought. Hatfield noted the frequency range below about 3 GHz as vulnerable. He stated, "[W]e must think about it [role of Amateur Radio] in the context of increasing pressure on the underlying spectrum resource."
Our Future As Operationally Defined By Dale N. Hatfield, W0IFO.
We need a metaphorical rock concert of stadium sized activity across all of ham radio. I do believe, we are at the level of small venue, one that is wanting of super charged amplifiers, giant plasma screens, and interconnectivity.
Hatfield remarked with clarity from eight years ago, "The rapidly growing demand for spectrum coupled with the increased visibility of its economic value due to auctions makes it almost inevitable that amateurs will be under a certain amount of pressure to justify their "free" use of this precious resource."
He is absolutely correct in today's context. Our natural resource is under commercial scrutiny. The rock concert of ham radio activity must engage itself. Or we will lose.
I just do not see a happy medium justifying impoverished spectral real estate.
"We could probably discuss at some length the proper measure of spectrum efficiency but for our purposes here this evening it might be simply the number of simultaneous conversations that can be accommodated in a given amount of spectrum in a particular geographic area," as communicated by Hatfield.
Others might have to step up as ham radio celebrities and make the cross over into trendy, cool, and geeky for the Millennial to hear our message.
Abhorrent and heretical as this maybe there is a new generational reality.
Strengthening Our Position As Suggested.
The name of the new spectral real estate game is efficiency. Whatever one's position Hatfield clearly defined the course, "In the commercial sectors, where organizations pay for their use of the spectrum, there is a significant economic incentive to use the resource efficiently – to spread costs over as many users as possible while maintaining good quality service. That is, there is a strong incentive to develop and adopt more spectrally efficient technology."
We are in the ascendancy stage of digital and one might call this 'our digital rock concert'. But we haven't achieved Woodstock status, yet. Hatfield warned, "I would urge you to continue shifting towards more spectrally efficient communications techniques – especially digital techniques."
- "[D]emonstrates to policymakers and regulators that you are good stewards of the public’s airwaves even without direct economic incentives."
- "[U]sing what you have efficiently, it strengthens your case when you need to ask for additional spectrum."
- "[A]llowing more users to access the available allocations simultaneously, it improves the amateur experience and ultimately increases the attractiveness of the service to new and old users alike."
- "[P]rovides the opportunity or "headroom" for increases in data rates to more closely match those available on wireline networks and, in the future, on commercial wireless networks as well."
- "[A]s the rest of the telecommunications world makes the transition to digital techniques – and there are very few exceptions to that trend – the amateur service will look antiquated if it is not making progress in that direction as well."
I stumbled across this document however somethings in life are not coincidental. I felt like Hatfield opened ham radio's digital rock concert. Maybe eight years later but everything is timing. His points are clear and poignant. We are, in effect, in the turmoil as ham radio feels the pressure.
Hatfield gets the final remark, "[I]t is even possible to envision Software Defined Radios as a means of facilitating a new era of amateur experimentation. One intriguing possibility is that it could enable hams without skills and/or interest in hardware construction to build and experiment with new systems by writing new code. It might also allow the rapid sharing of new modulation techniques and receiver designs through electronic publication of the implementing software. This could stimulate a whole new generation of amateur innovation that not only includes the more spectrally efficient systems I mentioned earlier, but also radios that could adapt to their environment as well."
73 from the shackadelic.