The Backbone Of VHF Amateur Radio May Be Under Threat

A story that has been on the burner for a few weeks concerns a proposal that will be advanced to the ITU World Radiocommunication Conference 2023. It originates with French spectrum regulators and is reported to be at the behest of the Paris-based multinational defence contractor Thales. The sting in its tail is the proposed relegation of amateur radio to secondary status of the widely used two-meter band (144 MHz) to permit its usage by aircraft. The machinations of global spectrum regulation politics do not often provide stories for Hackaday readers, but this one should be of concern beyond the narrow bounds of amateur radio.

Most parts of the radio spectrum are shared between more than one user, and there is usually a primary occupant and a secondary one whose usage is dependent upon not interfering with other users. If you’ve used 435 MHz radio modems you will have encountered this, that’s a band shared with both radio amateurs and others including government users. While some countries have wider band limits, the two-meter band between 144 MHz and 146 MHz is allocated with primary status to radio amateurs worldwide, and it is this status that is placed under threat. The latest ARRL news is that there has been little opposition at the pan-European regulator CEPT level, which appears to be causing concern among the amateur radio community.

Why should this bother you? If you are a radio amateur it should be a grave concern that a band which has provided the “glue” for so many vital services over many decades might come under threat, and if you are not a radio amateur it should concern you that a commercial defence contractor in one country can so easily set in motion the degradation of a globally open resource governed by international treaties penned in your grandparents’ time. Amateur radio is a different regulatory being from the licence-free spectrum that we now depend upon for so many things, but the principle of it being a free resource to all its users remains the same. If you have an interest in retaining the spectrum you use wherever on the dial it may lie, we suggest you support your national amateur radio organisation in opposing this measure.

135 thoughts on “The Backbone Of VHF Amateur Radio May Be Under Threat

    1. The RSGB currently represents the UK, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales. Not all of those nations are Leaving, and there will be some arrangement to continue their representation after the UK Leaves. And the UK will be in something like the Schengen anyway, and you’d be surprised how much influence Norway, etc., have on EU politics right now because of the Schengen. They even let me be on ETSI committees, and I’m from the states.

      Not that this isn’t totally annoying.

      1. “The RSGB currently represents the UK, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales. Not all of those nations are Leaving” – Which ones do you think are staying?..

        1. Scotland and Northern Ireland will probably Stay. They voted to Stay. Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland may even unify. If the UK insists they Leave, they will vote for independence. They have an independence vote coming up anyway. Wales and England voted to Leave.

          1. >They have an independence vote coming up anyway

            There’s no such thing on the table for NI, and the Scottish Nationalist Party are making loud noises about a new referendum but nothing is official as things stand now. Their options are badger the UK government for the legislation to enable a new referendum (seems doubtful) or unilaterally delcare independence, which could be significantly more turbulent.

            The fact that NI and Scotland had majority Remain votes has more or less been ignored by the UK Government.

            At any rate, post Brexit and/or independence/unification, I’d hazard a guess that Ham radio band legislation will be the bottom of the list of priorities.

      2. RSGB represents the UK (England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales). The UK is leaving (if nothing else changes). The UK never joined Schengen at the former height of its cooperation with the rest of the EU, why would it join after it leaves the EU?

          1. You’ve really got the wrong end of the stick on this one. Schengen is about the ability of people to travel without requiring passports. It’s notihing to do with a single market for the purposes of trade.

      3. You’re understanding of the UK totally wrong.

        The United Kingdom is comprised of England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. They are all leaving.

        I don’t know where you get your information from but you’re very bad informed about Brexit and the UK in general. The UK is not in Schengen at the moment, and definitely will not be after Brexit. The most likely thing is a trade deal at this point.

        May I recommend you change your news source.

      4. Wow, I’m surprised that you and everyone else missed the point here, Bruce! This has nothing to do with UK/EU politics, but rather with ITU Region-1 radio regulations at the UN level.

        And this SHOULD cause grave concern to those of us outside of Region-1 (Europe, most of the MIddle East, and Africa) because if this succeeds they will come for us in the other two regions as well.

        As a side note, I also find it very interesting that there has been hardly any stink being made about losing another ENTIRE BAND in Region-1 (and possibly world-wide) in the form of 23cm (1240-1300 MHz, including the 1260-1270 satellite sub-band) to the Galileo E6 signal. Yes the FCC told them no, but that’s one country, and only for now: losing *ALL* 23cm privileges possibly world-wide is very much on the table for WARC-23!

    2. I have quite a lot of experience in the ITU process having led an effort from about 2006 to 2013 to get primary usage in a particular part of the HF band as a technical POC from the USA. So, here are some things to consider before you get overly concerned about the proposal in the ARRL CEPT item linked above:

      – Each nation, known as an “administration” in ITU-speak, has a rep at the WRC held in Geneva every year. It takes typically 2 to 3 years just to get on the agenda. From the ARRL link, it appears that this proposal is already past this point.

      – Once on the agenda, it takes 2 to 3 more years to go through the committee approval process and then to the overall ITU approval. During this period, the various nations do what we, in the USA, call “horse-trading”; e.g. “I’ll approve this text if you approve that text” etc etc. This is where this VHF proposal is now, apparently.

      – A single nation can do a lot to sidetrack/delay/upend any proposal.

      – The globe is partitioned into 3 main ITU regions that follow longitudinal bands, roughly: Europe (incl Russia) & Africa; N & S America; Asia (incl Australia).

      – Any approved rules can be region-specific, e.g. what applies to Europe may not apply in the USA and vice-versa.

      So, there’s no reason to be complacent either. The best thing you can do is to team up with any organization in your country and make your concerns known to your own nation’s regulatory agency.

  1. I do care. I’m still pissed off by the fact that the 75 MHz “shared frequency” (as it used to be called in Czech Republic where I live) is no longer public. And that means I can dump several of my VR22 transceivers. They are old and heavy, but 8W at this frequency meant you could talk to anyone without ever using a phone.

  2. Well, if this can be useful for the aircraft industry and navigation systems it´s a better use than a handful of grey-beardy hobbyists sharing details about their ailments.
    Anyway, now that there is internet and high-speed networks with redundant paths, there is no need to devote that much hertzian space for a handful of people, and it´s urgent to free those poorly used bands for services that need it, like automotive networks, delivery drones, urban mobility, environmental data (…)

    1. Amateur radio is meant for education and research. Yes, people chat there as well, but a lot of people are actually doing research in the area of sattelites, low power modes (JT’s modes) and antennas for example. This is also the _only_ worldwide harmonized VHF frequency allocation we have. There are sattelites in orbit using it too (including ISS).

    2. Have you ever been involved in a natural disaster such as a torbado or hurricane? That’s when all communications are broken! These “grey bearded old men” are the the only link to the rest of the world. That’s what amateur radio is best at!

      1. When all else fails…… Amateur Radio

        I live in Southern California and every time there is an disaster (fire, flood, earthquake, the Chatsworth Metrolink crash) it has been the Amateur Radio community that ensures we can get in touch with resources outside of the disaster area, because more often than not the phone system gets overloaded. Also ask the people in Hati, and Japan what they think of the amateur radio community when an disaster strikes.

        As mentioned above, the 2 meter (144MHz to 148MHz in the US) is the only worldwide frequency that we all have access to. Not to mention that a lot of Amateur Radio operators have come up with innovations that affect modern technology, go look up how the fractal antenna used in cell phones came about, if I recall correctly it was an Amateur Radio operator trying to shrink his antenna for an apartment that figured it out.

          1. At the present time in the solar cycle these bands do not provide the good and reliable propagation in the same way as 2 metres FM does.

      2. At one time, that was true, but not anymore. The phone companies are quick to provide fast, reliable satellite phones in the aftermath of a real emergency. Amateur radio has become more and more just a hobby for most, and most of us emergency service coordinators no longer rely on it for any form of real or serious communications. In the 1950s and 60 it was useful in an emergency, but in the 21st century, not so much, or not at all. Great for Health and Welfare stuff, but not for formal or important traffic. Basically, ham radio is ancient and obsolete for emergency services.

        1. We live on the DE/MD border on the Atlantic Ocean. We drill once a month for emergencies on the air, and have a simulation exercise once a year, not counting two “field days,” one in the winter. Some years back, during a hurricane, the emergency power for the entire state communications system was within 1/2 hour of going out — major problem with cooling on one critical generator. Out county EOC maintains a complete ham setup which is run on a regular basis. As for myself (ham since 1957), I can have an independent station up and operating in about 10 minutes, fixed or portable. In emergency situations, cell systems DO become overloaded (see 9/11), or simply don’t work. Ditto with the Internet. A couple of good cuts on the fiber links and they are out of business. Get your license and join the party….Oh yes, I can work CW up and down the whole east coast with a rig that uses about 1/2 the power of a night light. Ancient and obsolete, I don’t think so…

          73 /paul W3FIS

        2. Strange, didn’t work that way in New Orleans. All the redundancies and backups collapsed. Hams didn’t. Often major hospitals require at least one (often several) staff members to be licenced hams… for emergency purposes…

          Question: so “formal and important” traffic is done by satelite phone? And the phone companies arrive on site and dole out dozens, hundreds or thousands of phones, how soon?

          I remember a talk with first responders to a typhoon. It was nothing like what you say. Chaos, no water or food and desperate searches for survivors. The very nature of an inexpensive hand held 2 way radio is a perfect fit already in place.

          Tornados, earthquakes, hurricanes… First responders will use HTs ASAP. Usually, 2 meter capable – it’s the band of choice.

        3. If you’re an Emergency Service Coordinator, you’re very bad at your job when it comes to the communications part of it. Ham Radio is not ‘obsolete’ for emergencies. In fact, you really…really… need to look up R.A.C.E.S. and see where it is LAW under Part 97. And the people of Puerto Rico will be SO RELIEVED to hear from you that those phone companies (and other utilities) jumped right in and everything is back to normal after Hurricane Maria in 2017….. oh..wait….. 2+ years later NOTHINGS back to normal! And a HUGE THANK YOU to ALL of the HAMS that provided (and are still providing) emergency communications for emergency relief.

          It’s always so disheartening to hear someone who is not a ham speak as though they’re an authority on ham radio and how much it just isn’t needed. And it’s SOOOO comforting to hear that kind of B.S. from someone who claims to be an Emergency Service Coordinator.

          All over the world, leading governmental emergency response agencies (Like Cal-OES) build ham radio into their emergency communications backup plans because they all know that you just can’t count on modern day (non-ham) communications to be up and running any time soon after some devastating disaster comes ravaging through an area and wipes out all or nearly all of the cell cites, mountain top emergency repeaters, and local area telephone hub and internet facilities.

          And I’m SOOOO tired of hearing people in so-called ‘positions of emergency management’ imply (as you did above) that ‘Phone Companies’ are what you should rely on for emergency communications. How many times do you have to see cell phone circuits (first) get jammed by people calling families to check on each other (thus causing emergency personnel to not be able to get a call through) to (secondly) the whole cell grid in the disaster path get completely wiped out so no cell service is even available. And every single time an area of government that solely wanted to use phones to coordinate emergency response… got their behinds handed to them when disaster struck (Think of places like the towns of Paradise California and surrounding area during the Camp Fire and Puerto Rico after Maria). And who were the first people to get emergency communications up and operational until the devastated infrastructure could be repaired…. HAMS….. Using a technology you call ‘obsolete’.

          You really need to get your ham license and learn about this craft (art) before you take pot shots at it.

          You should read:

        4. My family was one of 140k whose houses were flooded in 2016 in the Baton Rouge area in Louisiana. For about 4 days, our area was a complete mess. My personal experience was to boat my family out to a state highway, only to find we’d missed the last national guard truck (the last one was full, and they said another would be coming… 90 minutes later it became clear that wasn’t true).

          Fortunately, the so-called “cajun navy”, which are mostly amateur boat owners rescued us. I noted that they were coordinating with various radio technologies. I never saw anyone with a phone-company provided sat phone.

    3. Better commercial interests take a single TV channel at 6mhz wide than the 2 meter band,
      . Nothing of use on TV. But TV frequencies are the holy grail of stupidity and greed.
      LEO sattelite interests have tried this move before. Everyone knows government and politicians will sell their souls for a buck. And that is every where on the planet.

      Whom and what starts wars but those connected to making a buck from defense
      But gun makers and defense technology?

      1. seems there is nothing on the ARRL,s news website…I don,t think I would get to worried about this. as a ham for 42 years, the only band that we lost was part of 220 and that band here in the northeast is hardly used. If there was ever a threat to usa hams, I think the ARRL would step in to protect our band. So I wouldn’t lose sleep over this for a few years.

    4. Tell that to the population affected by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. For several weeks, Amateur Radio provided the only effective communications for a relief effort that covered 4 US States. When everything else fails, we are still there.

      1. Its relevance is going to very quickly fade though. There is already a satellite company that is building up a network that turns a standard LTE phone into a tiny sat phone (for data and txt, not voice) anywhere on the planet. So easy global roaming with a normal cell.

        The other issue with ham radio for emergencies is its poor performance for data. Notice almost all ham radio based data setups use modified off the shelf equipment designed for unlicensed spectrum.

        Stuff like starlink will render ham radio mostly useless for emergencies. Why use ham radio with legal and licensing restrictions and poor data speeds when you can use a pizza box sized antenna and have hundreds of megabits of data available.

        The one ham radio thing that could have been really interesting died a few years ago. The geosynchronous ham satellite. The middle east got one, but ours died.

        1. Until satellite voice and data actually IS a reality, widespread, easily accessible and proven reliable HAMs are basically the only fallback left and the 2m bandshould be left alone. And even then, it’s questionable whether satellite comms could ever fulfill the same function. In Europe even the emergency services often use communication devices reliant on an operational mobile telephony network. When shit really hits the fan that cannot however be relied upon. The amount of comms that happen over any network during an emergency is staggering, and I highly doubt even a constellation like Starlink could cope without overloading the network, with knock on effects even outside the disaster zone.

        2. OK, I just *HAVE* to add this: look up the “Carrington Event”. That event, in a pre-electrified world, had some interesting consequences. WRT this discussion, one of the things it would do in the 21st century is destroy a LOT of satellites. Starlink and friends will no longer function.

          Oh, and if that’s not bad enough, consider all the satellite-killing weapons being fielded by the various space-faring countries including our own. If a major war breaks out, what do you think one of the very first targets will be?
          It’s why eLORAN is coming back and these guys exist:

          1. Sattelite killing weapons will not be a problem to Starlink. There will be monstrous redundancy in 12k sattelites which will be in various orbits, some of which will ensure MAD.

    5. (On a cool quiet morning, on a Minnesota lake in the North Country, with the last patches of fog dissipating with the rising Sun.
      [walter] in his 16 foot Aluma-Craft boat, carefully selects from his tackle box, his prized bait. He carefully, almost lovingly, attaches it to the waiting line, makes a smooth cast with his graphite rod, sending the bait with a satisfying whizz of the reel. Upon hearing the quiet “plop” of the bait hitting the water, he smiles and starts the trolling motor.)

    6. The frequencies that you are referring to came in quite handy during 9/11, in New York City. These frequencies are used by literally thousands of unpaid volunteers worldwide during hurricanes, earthquakes, and recently, the severe fires in California. The internet that you are referring to, does not work when the grid is down.

    7. It’s obvious you have a bias and, I suspect, an interest in an industry eyeing those frequencies. This attitude is just another form of corporate greed, Mr. Gecko. Spare me the quote.

      1. This is a fact. A month ago I called family and told them a tornado was headed straight at them from about 4 miles away.

        They said we didn’t see it on TV.

        I said no, the storm spotter just called it in and they haven’t had time to get it on the air.

        It turned and dissipated. But video of it showed up on Facebook. There is was and nobody would’ve known if it weren’t for the storm spotter, our family was minutes from it right in it’s path.

        By the way. We’re near Joplin, Mo where the EF5 hit in 2011. Hams set up from Joplin to Springfield and handled all of the radio traffic to hospitals etc.

        How will do those satellite phones work through thick trees or in a mall?

        And I see everyone dismissing the experimenting that hams do. Hams have developed many modes of communication over the decades and it appears that people think we’re at the end of the rope.

        There are groups working on digital right now and there are radios that can send text and do voice. They’re hand held radios too.

        I think the guy talking about the grey bearded old guys talking about their ailments should be listening to those old guys. They could get him into a good career or he could save lives for free.

        The fact is hams have invented so much stuff he’ll be gray bearded before he could learn it all. And there’s plenty of young, bight,minds entering the field.

        Also, there is tons of affordable used equipment and poorer nations use ham because they can’t afford all of the new digital things richer countries have.

        We’re talking about VHF here. It’s not like the low bands. It’s also world wide. This is a simple no.

    8. 2M is the backbone of communication for many hikers, campers, off roaders and remote rescue groups. Where we go there isn’t a better form of communication. Amateur radio is a lot more than grey bearded old farts. Although I do have grey in my beard….

    9. Cellular networking already works for drones, urban mobility, and environmental data. It has efficient frequency reuse and a plethora of bands. Automotive networks aren’t such a great idea, because lying on them has such a dangerous effect. But they have a 60 GHz band allocated to them, with more bandwidth than all bands allocated to hams together.

    10. You know nothing about who uses the the vhf amateur band. I’m in the United States and radio amateurs are ALWAYS asked by emergency services To assist in communications when a disaster happens, both large and small. Amateur radio is not just a hobby, hams provide service to the communities in which they live.

    11. I beg to differ. When we had the 2011 super tornado outbreak our entire city had no power, no internet, and no cell service. For DAYS. These are all very fragile services.

      But my 2m ham radio still worked just fine.

    12. I think you know nothing about Ham Radio, the 2 meter band is widely used for mobile communication. The aviation industry already occupies 108 to 137 MHz, do they really need 2 more Mhz? There may also be a financial motive here, 2 meter equipment is cheap compared to other bands. But most of it is FM, not AM that aircraft normally use.

    13. Ask around and you will find 2 meters is a backbone for emergency communications. Floods, hurricanes, severe storms can destroy cell and internet networks (think Katrina). Hams come to the rescue.

      My understanding is France wants air space for military drones. 2 meter technology is cheap, growing more sophisticated every day… Would be a great coup to steal the band.

    14. What utter insulting rubbish. I for one have been an amateur radio operator for more than 50 years. Poor Walter has no knowledge of the hobby which has often aided in National disasters and is not just for chattering like the CB band. Amateurs are in general very respectable people who are involved in research and experiment in electronics. Walter you just stay with twitter facebook and the other cyber playgrounds and stay out of serious attempts by private companies trying to help themselves to the property of band space for which every one of the Amateur Radio operators pay a substantial license fee. Brain should be engaged before you make stupid remarks. Cliff VK2CRC

  3. Most likey feeding a troll, but what the hell, even trolls need to eat. Because you and others feel the same doesn’t mean you’re in a majority. Here in the US opposition come fro more the ham community at large. There exists a long list disaster related parties that depend on hams that use that spectrum to provide communications that would not exist as any price. Assung this would apply to all ITU regions/zones

  4. okay, I’m not a radio amateur, but I get the point of your concern.

    But before I join the group of angry people with torches and pitchforks, I really want to know about WHY they would like to have this specific frequency band. What makes this band so special that they want it, knowing that it is already reserved for so long by so many. Something must have changed to make someone think that this is now an option.
    Does this band offer a strategic advance? Is it merely to expand bandwith to push more data (channels). Is it something mechanical like required/convenient antenna size or something related to propagation to extend a certain range?
    Why? Why?

    Seriously, there nothing wrong with a good riot (though there are a lot of things wrong with a bad riot), but I would like to understand. Mostly from a technical point of view.

    1. It’s because the band is already harmonised worldwide(work by amateurs no less) to be the same in each country. Thales sees this as an easy and cheap target, so are going for it. The spectrum defence fund though appear to have put their objections in very late to the preliminary meetings(so allegedly most countries apart from Germany didn’t object) and now we are in this mess.

    2. 2M has always been the beginner band. The equipment has been cheap, the antennas are somewhat small and it didn’t require knowing morse code. It’s also one of the few bands that is available in almost all countries. Other VHF amateur bands vary by country or region.

      These days you don’t need morse code to get on HF. So in theory a beginner could go right to HF.

      2M is also popular for mobile use. Reasonable range combined with a great network of repeaters provided reliable communications over most areas. Before cell phones it was very popular to have an autopatch on repeaters so you could make phone calls from your radio. It was great for emergency use.

      2M is kind of an important band for emergency communications. 70cm could also serve this role but it doesn’t have as good coverage. With 2M(or 70cm) a handheld radio is all you need to get into a repeater which will then re-transmit your signal over a very large area. The 2M band will penetrate trees and stuff, and refract around hills better than 70cm.

      APRS is another niche 2M application. It permits amateurs to share their location and other telemetry. I’ve used it to track weather balloons. It could somewhat easily move to 70cm. But we are already a secondary user on 70cm.

      Then there is the investment in equipment. Most amateurs have one or more 2M radios. The clubs own many repeaters. There are also amateur radio satellites operating on 2M.

      I’m kinda on the fence about it. 2M to be is a very boring band as its easy reliable communications. But there are some challenging aspects of it. Stuff like moon bounce. HF is much more interesting but also very crowded.

      I find it very hard to believe that regulators can’t find other spectrum to reallocate to air mobile use. Many other users of the VHF band have long switched to cellphones. There gotta be some spectrum ripe for reassignment between 137Mhz and 144Mhz. The curent air band is 118Mhz to 137Mhz. To me it would make sense to continue on from 137Mhz. Maybe that is what they are doing, I haven’t dug deep into this.

      1. Excellent summary. I agree about the 118-137 Mhz. With the amount of 2 Meter equipment and repeaters out there I don’t see this as enforceable. Hard to picture the Americans acquiescing to a EU law…..1776 all over again.

      2. The Two Meter band is actually not that boring if you happen to be using single sideband and an eight element yagi antenna. If you’re only using FM, you’re missing most of the fun.

    3. The Amateur Radio 2m band is reserved world wide, so the would not have to change frequencies and hassle around with various regulations whenever they change country/region. The latter is what they currently (would) have to do. A hostile takeover for the convenience of a single, lazy company.

      There theoretically is a 1Mbit/s bandwidth – but shared within a 10-500km radius (depending ontransmit power and height of the flight) among all of the prospective drones. For terrestrial use (ground-to-ground) the range is limited to ~20km due to ground obstacles. And if you only use 0.0125MHz for speech radio or data transmission, or even 0.0005MHz for CW (morse) then 1MHz is quite enough. Also simple telemetry (APRS) will update e.g. a position every 10 minutes or temperature every hour. But for realtime flight control within several 100km radius those measely 1MHz quickly will saturate, even if dedicated to a single company. Imagine having to share your single WiFi frequency not only with your block but with all of the US.

      At the expense of worldwide hobbyists, radio technology & digital services development and emergency services.

    4. The big deal here (as highlighted above) is this frequency range is already reserved (pretty much) worldwide. So rather than have to take different frequency allocations from different countries its “easier” to just take over the amateur space. its like butting in at the front of a que of 100 people who have waited patiently for hours then buying all the stock.

      got to be ohnest, If i was an amateur and had equipment that just became junk I’d be messing the band up, two wrongs dont make a right, but, still.

      1. Or just wait till a whole bunch of disasters come rolling through right after this change. Then we can all do a global “sorry about your luck”. Maybe Thales can front the rest of the planet some disaster relief funds.

    5. 2 meters is reliable, extremely good for line of sight communications. For drones I imagine geosynchronous satelites would make a large footprint available especially at the equator (Indonesia has a LEO satellite that worked well for that during a Typhoon).
      Antennas are small but not tiny. The technology is inexpensive because on near by frequencies are business, government ,trains, ambulances, security, law enforcement, FBI, forrest service (to name a few) marine and aeronautical frequencies. Slight changes and the same design works for all.
      With so many diverse users, it obviously is effective and reliable. Hams have always had this spectrum and use it as a hobby as well as providing emergency and public services. Whats amazing is how many marathons, bike rallies. fun runs and walks, major events of one sort or another use hams for coordinating various services. Not emergency, just useful and free civic service.

  5. Why ? you ask. Having worked alongside Thales in the past it is probably down to their belief they can do what they want, where they want. They are now so big in their world that they think they can push people around at will. ITU regulations, pah! Amateur Radio, pah!

    1. Would you also consider them sneaky?
      The reason there was so “little opposition” was because the 2m takeover was added literally days before the deadlines.
      So most countries had days at most to formulate a response and many did not manage to do that in time.
      I see that as a rather underhanded tactic.

  6. if the aircraft people need some band width i say let them have a couple of MHz in the bottom half of the 2 meter band, from 144 to 146, i listen to the radio often from DC to daylight, and the 2 meter amateur band is mostly abandoned, even the local repeater is sitting idle and unused 99% of the time, give the aircraft people 144 to 146 and shorten the amateur band to 146 to 148

      1. yeah, i forgot about the rest of the world, the USA has 144 to 148, the EU only has 144 to 146? then give the aircraft community half, 144 to 145, one MHZ of band-width is a fairly good size chunk of spectrum for local hams to communicate, since the pass-band or a 2 meter transceiver is only 6 to 12 kilohertz wide that leaves plenty of room for adjacent band-with for others

        1. It should be noted that this is not for “the aircraft community” as you say. It is for Thales.

          If the precedent is set that a major corporation can just waltz in and grab a part of the amateur band because it’s easier (in this case because it’s globally harmonized), then soon we won’t have any amateur bands. Thales has the money to develop drone communications equipment for a different frequency and pay for lobbyists, licensing, etc. They simply don’t want to. Amateurs (even the ARRL) can’t afford those lobbyists.

          As said by another user, there is likely some bandspace available for reassignment between 137Mhz and 144Mhz. Since the curent aircraft band is 118Mhz to 137Mhz, there should (in theory) be room to add on between 137Mhz and 144Mhz. That would save them the cost of significant engineering of communications equipment, they’d just have to tweak existing stuff a little. Thales would simply need to pay for the lobbyists, licensing, etc.

          I’ll admit that the 2m band isn’t utilized by hams as much as it should be, but it’s far from dead. That’s especially true during public events or emergencies /disasters. It is also vital to new hams with it’s cheap radios, repeater network, and lack of overcrowding. I’ve been a ham for about a year, and that’s where I started out. I think it should remain an option.

    1. Problem is here in the uk our 2 meter band starts at 144.000 Mhz and extends to 146.000 Mhz we unlike America do not have 146.000 Mhz to 148.000 Mhz to play with. So that would wipe out our entire 2 meter band. 73 mw6zan

  7. I doubt this will happen. There are several companies with vested interest in the radio world who have spent millions of dollars building and selling 2m radio equipment successfully to take this lying down. They will likely lobby the hell out of this.

  8. There is already some whopping 29 MHz of bandwidth with very similar properties spanning 108-137 MHz frequencies. This is already the worldwide coordinated airband. Additionally there is 175 MHz of bandwidth in the region 225-400 MHz reserved specifically for military aircraft. This region too is worldwide coordinated.

    It is quite difficult to understand how and why someone would want to have an allocation with only 2 MHz of bandwidth with potentially millions of devices already out there that could interfere with your special application.

    Why a band with interference? Let’s face it, they will probably use some digital encoding that sounds just like noise to the common analog handheld radio. Any ham operator that asks “is this frequency in use?” in FM or SSB and hears noise will assume the frequency is free and start talking. So the band will have heavy interference.

    Instead if you use an SDR and tune somewhere into the military airband (225-400MHz) all you hear is nothing, with very few exceptions. Why not take 2 MHz from any of the already assigned allocation? Why even bother to get a new allocation if you have 175 + 29 MHz at your disposal?

    I smell this is a diversion tactic. Maybe to reduce the resistance that is currently occuring in the reduction of the 23 cm band with respect to the Galileo GNSS or the cancellation of the 9 cm band with respect to LTE and 5G applications. Do they expect us to say; “Ok at least leave us the 2m band and you can have the 23 cm and 9 cm bands.” ?
    That is utterly nonsense.

    1. I’d be 100% behind removing the 9cm and 23cm bands if they go unlicensed. Amateur radio mostly wastes those bands due to all the restrictions on how it can be used. Unlicensed produces vastly more innovation now days (just look at all the innovations in radio and how they are almost all centered around the various unlicensed bands. And then look at the handful of projects based around amateur spectrum and how most of them die as soon as the original creator gets bored.)

  9. I signed the petition.
    Anyway, the EU is in the midst of collapse and won’t even exist for much longer, nor will any of their silly rules. The EU was always a bad idea, which is becoming more obvious by the minute.

  10. N9ROI
    Let’em have what they want in exchange for 148 to 154. Most everything in 150 to 155 has gone 700 and 800 trunking. It was mostly utilities and fire departments. Up side is look at all that commercial equipment sitting in wharehouses unused.

    1. Randall…In California and Siutgern California in particular, Cal-Fire, OES, CNF and other national forest depend heavily on that 150-155 MHz segment of the band.

  11. I am a pilot and a ham radio enthusiast. I understand why the Europeans are eager to use more spectrum. But I don’t think this is the answer.

    The problem is that the European airspace has many small airspace sectors. The airspace has byzantine complexity compared to that of the US. The Europeans already have tight channel spacing (8.33 kHz, compared to 12.5 kHz spacing in North America), and it still isn’t enough. Adding still more frequencies isn’t likely to improve much of anything.

    The US has similarly crowded airspace, at least as bad as anything in Europe. However, they deal with it, despite the lack of channels.

    Clearly, this problem is more political than technical. We need to emphasize this fact.

    1. As far as I know all the VHF channels are still active (channel 2 to 13) but are transmitting Digital HD.
      I know the transmitter I used to maintain is still running on channel 10 this way)

      1. They are, and with the repack, TV is losing more channel space. They already lost 70-83, then 52-69,n and they’re losing 38-68 to the repack. With iHeart and Cumulus having to refinance and threaten bankruptcy every six months, you’ll see a grab for part of 88-108MHz. It’s already near impossible to find an available frequency (even if you can afford to start a new station). Plans exist to reallocate channels 5 and 6 to expand FM radio.

        Commercial broadcast spectrum is already ruined, now it’s time to ruin the amateur bands, I guess.

    1. The lady that runs ofcom earns £500k a year and that’s why ofcom its known as a fat cat regulator
      we all know who gets the cream
      If the french proposal is accepted hams have only themselves to blame
      They have deserted 2m
      Rsgb and iaru should have seen this coming but they have made little or no effort to increase activity on the band
      Commercial organisations scan all frequencies daily looking for spectrum to pounce on
      They have found 2m
      get out your cheque book boys spectrum costs money
      The highest bidder wins

    2. Nope, wrong band. That was the lower 2 MHz of the 1.25M band, from 220 to 222 MHz. UPS never ended up using it, and decades later we still don’t have it back and probably never will. We still have 6M, thank goodness.
      Sadly, that chunk of spectrum that UPS stole is being missed now more than ever because 1.25M use is growing now that 2M is becoming much more heavily utilized. 2M is actually quite busy around these parts.

  12. we have decided, in our wisdom, to allocate to vital air traffic, spectrum space that is used currently by millions of expensive
    radios throughout the world, by folks that will be unwilling to give them up. we think this is the best plan going forward.
    they will all likely just pitch them in the trash.

  13. Keep in mind that when the primary use is aviation, there’ll be no effective secondary use. You and I won’t be able to interfere with air-to-ground communications.

    Also, keep in mind that aviation radios are not like HF-SSB radios. You can’t simply make a few tweaks to them and have them tune to 144-46 MHz. There’ll need to be purchasing on a massive scale, and Thales is well-positioned to get rich off those sales, as is the French government, which owns about a quarter of it.

    The company changed its name to Thales (from the Greek philosopher Thales, pronounced [talɛs] reflecting its pronunciation in French) from Thomson-CSF in December 2000 shortly after the acquisition of Racal Electronics plc, a UK defence electronics group. It is partially state-owned by the French government, and has operations in more than 56 countries. It has 64,000 employees and generated €14.9 billion in revenues in 2016.

    Read that Wikipedia article and you’re find that this company isn’t known for its integrity. If bribery will get it what it wants, it will bribe. I quote: “Michel Josserand, former head of THEC, a subsidiary of Thales, and Dominique Monleau, alleged that Thales has a centralised slush fund that it uses to bribe officials.”

    Amateur radio operators are going to be in a desperate fight to keep this from happening.

    –Mike Perry, WA4MP

  14. Whats with these corporations trying to muscle in and take over allocated frequencies. Several years ago it was Light Squared trying to move in on the GPS satellite frequencies. Like who uses GPS, right., The thing is FCC hat to think about it.

  15. This is a really bad idea… for FrenchGreedCo.
    Not everyone with a license will play strictly by FCC rules.
    If Thales wants electronic warfare, they will get it.
    I know more than a few people who will simply their jam drones out of the sky if they appear to be using 144-148MHz for their communication.
    Truckers in my area already love using 1500W linears to blast their 2am screeds
    .. and they haven’t been stopped in the 20 years I’ve lived here despite FCC.
    Add amateurs make a hobby of finding transmitter locations – zeroing out unwanted fliers won’t be hard.
    I can see a new foxhunting sport of jamming the drones, or simply taking them over and crashing them.
    Welcome to radiopunk, Thales.

  16. This will never happen but I would happily trade primary status on the 2-meter band for worldwide primary status on the 1.25-meter band. It has just about the same propagation but better building and obstacle penetration. There would be some definite pains as everyone re-tools that would take a few years to iron out but in the end we would be better off.

    I know that isn’t going to happen so let’s grab our pitchforks and torches and burn these jerks!

    1. Yes, nit only has it become entry level, but hams generally have at least one rig for the band. I had a .mobile tube rig at home when licensed in 1972, and nkthing until a few years ago, when I gkt an icom walkue talkie for sixty dolkars at a garage sale. I’ve not used it, but I have it.


  17. Basically, google “why does Thales want spectrum” and some pretty informative reading will appear. Personally, I was stunned by what I found.

    It seems to me there is immense inertia behind this spectrum appropriation. From what I can tell, the 2M and Ka reallocation attempts are to support an integral part of the Starlink satellite system to be used as downlink frequencies for aeronautical and ground duplex comms from the planned 12,000 satellites that are being installed as a high redundancy laser-linked mesh network. The first 60 were installed a few weeks ago via Falcon Heavy, as many will be aware of. I found documentation around this direction dating back to 2004, with *major* defense industry ramifications, not to mention commercial internet and aeronautical use. It is an immense infrastructure installation dwarfing the scale of PAVE/PAWS.

    I have no qualifications to make declarations, but I am not betting against the inevitability of the complete erosion to our rights to 2 meter, or at least 144-146mhz.

  18. Here in Oklahoma, 2 metres is basically dead. Oh sure there are repeaters, but most of these are not used. They are parked on a coordinated frequency so no one else can use it. As far as I’m concerned, they should make 144 to 147 spread spectrum only (DSSS and FHSS combined).

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