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Tech

Are HF digital modes a national security risk?

Dan Romanchik, KB6NU According to an article on the website Mission Critical Communications, a noted amateur radio operator and electrical engineering professor, Theodore Rappaport, N9NB, thinks that “the FCC is putting national security at risk by not enforcing amateur radio rules.” In a filing on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) 16-239, which would remove baud rate limits for digital modes on the HF bands, Rappaport says that the FCC should first address ongoing amateur radio rule violations, specifically, the use of obscured, private messaging, as they create national security concerns. N9NB writes, “If allowed, NPRM 16-239 would perpetuate the current violations and would authorize obscured transmissions of unlimited bandwidth over the global airwaves, further increasing the danger to our national security, since these transmissions cannot be intercepted or eavesdropped by other amateur radio operators or the FCC.” The article also notes: The filing said public records clearly show how the evolution of undocumented, proprietary transmission technologies such as PACTOR and Winlink, ARDOP, Winmor, STANAG and other HF transmission schemes that use controlling software have created a national security problem in the amateur radio service. Third parties, including other ham radio operators or the FCC listening stations, cannot intercept and decode over-the-air transmissions when used in the popular automated repeat request (ARQ) mode. There’s a heated debate about this over on Hackaday, but there the debate seems to be centered on the proprietary (or not) nature of PACTOR. There’s also been some discussion of this issue on the CWOps mailing list. There, the discussion seems to be centered on the possibility of all these unattended, automatic, wide-bandwidth digital stations being unleashed on and taking over the CW portion of the bands. And for what purpose? So, some boaters can send email. I think that some of these concerns have some merit. If these transmission really can’t be monitored, then they could be put to nefarious use. But, if there was any evidence of that happening, I’m sure that the FCC and other agencies could quickly obtain that capability. I’m also not too keen on unattended digital stations taking over the CW bands. Call me naive, but I don’t really see that happening. Much of the band is going unused, and certainly there s room for more digital communications. And, if it does prove to be a problem. we could petition for the rules to be changed again. Having said that, there is some merit in allowing wider bandwidth digital communications. Much of the emergency communications provided by amateur radio operators in the wake of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico last year was conducted using WinLink. What do you think? Should I be up in arms about this? Is this actually going to kill ham radio, or is it much ado about nothing? The post Are HF digital modes a national security risk? appeared first on KB6NU's Ham Radio Blog.
DELARANews

Tech

Are HF digital modes a national

security risk?

Dan Romanchik, KB6NU According to an article on the website Mission Critical Communications, a noted amateur radio operator and electrical engineering professor, Theodore Rappaport, N9NB, thinks that “the FCC is putting national security at risk by not enforcing amateur radio rules.” In a filing on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) 16-239, which would remove baud rate limits for digital modes on the HF bands, Rappaport says that the FCC should first address ongoing amateur radio rule violations, specifically, the use of obscured, private messaging, as they create national security concerns. N9NB writes, “If allowed, NPRM 16-239 would perpetuate the current violations and would authorize obscured transmissions of unlimited bandwidth over the global airwaves, further increasing the danger to our national security, since these transmissions cannot be intercepted or eavesdropped by other amateur radio operators or the FCC.” The article also notes: The filing said public records clearly show how the evolution of undocumented, proprietary transmission technologies such as PACTOR and Winlink, ARDOP, Winmor, STANAG and other HF transmission schemes that use controlling software have created a national security problem in the amateur radio service. Third parties, including other ham radio operators or the FCC listening stations, cannot intercept and decode over-the-air transmissions when used in the popular automated repeat request (ARQ) mode. There’s a heated debate about this over on Hackaday, but there the debate seems to be centered on the proprietary (or not) nature of PACTOR. There’s also been some discussion of this issue on the CWOps mailing list. There, the discussion seems to be centered on the possibility of all these unattended, automatic, wide-bandwidth digital stations being unleashed on and taking over the CW portion of the bands. And for what purpose? So, some boaters can send email. I think that some of these concerns have some merit. If these transmission really can’t be monitored, then they could be put to nefarious use. But, if there was any evidence of that happening, I’m sure that the FCC and other agencies could quickly obtain that capability. I’m also not too keen on unattended digital stations taking over the CW bands. Call me naive, but I don’t really see that happening. Much of the band is going unused, and certainly there s room for more digital communications. And, if it does prove to be a problem. we could petition for the rules to be changed again. Having said that, there is some merit in allowing wider bandwidth digital communications. Much of the emergency communications provided by amateur radio operators in the wake of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico last year was conducted using WinLink. What do you think? Should I be up in arms about this? Is this actually going to kill ham radio, or is it much ado about nothing? The post Are HF digital modes a national security risk? appeared first on KB6NU's Ham Radio Blog.