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[Articles Home]  [Add Article]  

Is FirstNet a Real Threat to Ham Radio?

Russell W. Brill (KN6SD) on November 4, 2017
Website: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/09/the-47-billion-network-thats-already-obsolete/4
View comments about this article!

After reading an article posted on The Atlantic's website, I would say FirstNet is simply a Federal Cell Phone plan for public safety. It will be plagued by all of the limitations of the current wireless telecommunications technology when it comes to coverage.

Here's a link to the Atlantic article: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/09/the-47-billion-network-thats-already-obsolete/492764/

IMHO: Amateur Radio will be providing emergency communications for the foreseeable future, without spending $50 Billion!!!

Just my 2 cents,

73,
Russ
KN6SD

Member Comments:
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Is FirstNet a Real Threat to Ham Radio? Reply
by KG4RUL on November 4, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Two thoughts on this effort:

It needs LOTS of infrastructure to function

It has the potential to create multiple, single points of failure
 
Is FirstNet a Real Threat to Ham Radio? Reply
by ON4AA on November 4, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
With an all-seeing eye all over it…

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/09/the-47-billion-network-thats-already-obsolete/492764/
 
RE: Is FirstNet a Real Threat to Ham Radio? Reply
by N9AOP on November 4, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
It will not be free to the end user and I wouldn't hold my breath over how well it will work when rolled out.
Art
 
RE: Is FirstNet a Real Threat to Ham Radio? Reply
by N0YXB on November 4, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
I don't see a threat to ham radio. A threat to sane budgeting maybe...
 
Is FirstNet a Real Threat to Ham Radio? Reply
by DL8OV on November 4, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Ten billion here, then billion there, pretty soon you're talking real money :)

And no, Everett Dirksen never said it.

Peter DL8OV
 
Is FirstNet a Real Threat to Ham Radio? Reply
by W8LGX on November 4, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
I read about FirstNet some time ago, and while seeing all the destroyed infrastructure in Puerto Rico the past few weeks, I wondered how First Net would have worked there, if it had been deployed. Not well, I suspect.

In my own county, the cellular network only covers about 70% of the county, and I have to walk a hundred feet from my house to get a 'bar'. Are they going to expand the number of cell towers to support FirstNet? In D.C., I'm sure that cellular is everywhere. Out here in the hinterlands, not so much.
 
Is FirstNet a Real Threat to Ham Radio? Reply
by KK4Z on November 4, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Don't poo-poo this. When Irma hit the mainland D-Star was more reliable than HF. Over the past ten or so years I have seen a lot of "hardening" of communications infrastructure here in the SE. The role of amateur radio is changing and if we do not change with it, we will become obsolete. Adapt, improvise, and overcome.
 
Is FirstNet a Real Threat to Ham Radio? Reply
by WA7SGS on November 4, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Past history shows government (especially military) programs with new tech often have lots of teething problems. It will take a few real disasters to sort out this new system. Lucky for the nation that we do have some amateur radio operators around.

Rick
 
Is FirstNet a Real Threat to Ham Radio? Reply
by K7ZOV on November 4, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
The bigger they are the harder they fall.... This will be big, complex and prone to have many issues... Thus it will fall hard and often. I don't see it making even a small dent into the world of ham radio... At the end of the day a basic radio, plus wire and a battery will be on the air and this monster will not be...
 
Is FirstNet a Real Threat to Ham Radio? Reply
by K6HSV on November 4, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
I've been closely watching the rollout of Firstnet here in California. If you happen to live near one of the larger cities or along a major thoroughfare, then the plan calls for Firstnet to cover that. But get a little off these areas and there is no predicted coverage. Predictably matches the lack of cell phone coverage in the outlying areas. Still, it will be multiple centuries before it is a reality, particularly in anything except LA. This is a very costly system. Yes, it will cost local jurisdictions to be on the system and that will be an impediment for many small areas.

A completely inflexible system that will never replace Amateur Radio.
 
Is FirstNet a Real Threat to Ham Radio? Reply
by ON4AA on November 5, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
If hardened amateur radio communications is what we are after at, we really should consider using spread spectrum 100mW LoRaWAN on 433MHz for sending APRS text messages miles away.

After all, APRS is not only about sending position reports. Text messaging is also an inherent capability of ARPS mesh networks. See: http://www.k0nr.com/wordpress/2010/11/has-amateur-radio-missed-out-on-instant-messaging/
 
Is FirstNet a Real Threat to Ham Radio? Reply
by KG4RUL on November 5, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
As Amateur radio operators we cannot compete with the Government. What we need to do is play to our strengths. We are more than capable of creating communication networks on-the-fly. We are the ones who can haul an antenna up in a tree and get comms going quickly. We don't need 300 million dollar contracts to restore infrastructure. We are the ones who CAN, Adapt, Improvise and Overcome.
 
RE: Is FirstNet a Real Threat to Ham Radio? Reply
by AC7CW on November 5, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
It's more like Ham Radio is a threat to anything the Public Sector can ever come up with. We make them look stupid. Our radios are working and we know it because we use them on a daily basis. We know how to make an antenna on a moment's notice, charge batteries, operate out of a car, etc... The only thing that really competes with Ham Radio in an emergency is a satellite phone and so far those are too pricey to really be widespread.
 
RE: Is FirstNet a Real Threat to Ham Radio? Reply
by N8AUC on November 5, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Ummm......no, not a threat.

When it works, it'll be great.
But it's just 4G LTE over 700MHz public service spectrum.

It's gonna be expensive. And it's gonna need multiple layers of infrastructure in order to operate.

Proponents claim it will be hardened to prevent single points of failure. Which is a good start, because that system is going to have multiple points of failure.

 
RE: Is FirstNet a Real Threat to Ham Radio? Reply
by W4KVU on November 6, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Why comment here??
If the "moderator" doesn't like it.it's gone.....
 
Is FirstNet a Real Threat to Ham Radio? Reply
by KK6HUY on November 6, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Since when is ham radio "free"? I paid way too much for my radio if this is the case.

And my antennas.

And my computer.

And...well, I've laid out an awful lot of cash for a "free" hobby, let's put it that way.
 
Is FirstNet a Real Threat to Ham Radio? Reply
by W9YW on November 6, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
I look at just how much stuff has been cut from the federal budgets in the US and how much tax cuts are going to be, and wonder just how much deficit spending this will amount to when it's finally built. Heaven help us if the usual government contractors get their hands on it, or it'll be $100B.
 
Is FirstNet a Real Threat to Ham Radio? Reply
by W8LV on November 6, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
"We're from The Government, and We're Here to Help You."

Early Twentieth Century:
The NEC becomes the FCC.

Or as Nostradamus said (in HIS Twentieth Century!)

"Short Coats for Long Coats."

Mid Early Twentieth Century: "We're going to popularize FM by changing its Band Allocation!"

Later Twentieth Century: AM Stereo will save AM Radio!

Yet Later Twentyfirst Century: "We have a Plan to Save AM Radio, and you're going to LOVE IBOC!"


What will happen to the SPECTRUM, after this Turkey doesn't fly, is the REAL question.

Wait... I see: The Future. Without a Crystal Ball.


The Project Tanks. As all Straw Men do.

The Corporate Contractor then bids on the Now Vacant Spectrum. After all, with the build out of all of that Nuclear Hardened Infrastrucure, why not turn Lemon$ into Corporate Welfare Sweet Lemonade?

And then we get 5G (Maybe even 6G) YouTube Cute Cat Videos in 3D on our cell phones. At new 5G (Maybe even 6G) prices. On new phones. Why make something backwards incompatible like they did colour TV? Out with the Old, and in with the New!

And then what? Grumble from a Certain Commercial three letter entity about the lack of $pectrum for the Yet Newer to replace the previous new and now completely obsolete, that's what!

Flashy ad campaign will follow, as we are "sold" the Latest and Greatest via our "old" devices... Even Electronics has Irony. Keeping up with The Jones's will be made easier, with a NEW Device Included with a NEW Service Contract...


Look, we Hams currently play in the National Park of Bandwidth. And we've got a pretty Good Thing!

But I'm afraid that the sound of noisy chainsaws is going to spoil the fun. Money will talk. And we won't.
And we will pay, twice.

"A cage of Gold, two wounds in one."

Finally on the Horizon?

Yet Another Plan to Save, and FIX AM Radio, once and for all in the New City of the Man Made Mountains.

Which for almost a hundred years and counting,
has never been broke.

Washington has never been so much in disarray.

73 and All the Best!
DE W8LV Bill

 
RE: Is FirstNet a Real Threat to Ham Radio? Reply
by GM1FLQ on November 6, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
"If the "moderator" doesn't like it.it's gone....."

That can often be explained (but not necessarily in all cases)......the clue often lies in the typical types that jump at the opportunity of this kind of role for no pay.....seemingly as a means of compensating for some kind of inadequacy often coupled to a delinquency.

 
RE: Is FirstNet a Real Threat to Ham Radio? Reply
by W4KVU on November 7, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
@ - gm1flo
Pretty much correct...Tnx.....
 
RE: Is FirstNet a Real Threat to Ham Radio? Reply
by AI4WC on November 7, 2017 Mail this to a friend!

Who cares? Really; who cares? The government spends money that it easily prints to employ people to do something crazy and buy lots of stuff that is made by people employed by more money easily printed. New howitzer shells can cost $68,000 each; what does it take to fund a war? Where does that money really come from? We will ALL be in a world of hurt when everyone realizes what US money is really worth or what it ISN'T worth; meanwhile, I will play with my radio gear and not really worry about saving the world with my HT!

I'm just trying to add some much-needed perspective; no offense intended to anyone!
 
There's always CB radio Reply
by SSBER on November 7, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
More people have CBs than Ham Radio.. Just sayin'.
 
RE: Is FirstNet a Real Threat to Ham Radio? Reply
by KK7GB on November 8, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Satellite phones are not 100%. I was on a search on Christmas Day a few years ago. A hunter had not checked in with his family. The wife called and we were dispatched.

Because of the heavy cloud cover, a satellite phone could not communicate. There were probably 30 of us, freezing our butts off, searching for this guy.

We found out then next day after the cloud cover broke and the satellite phone could communicate,that he had walked into a ranch and was enjoying Christmas dinner with the family.
 
RE: Is FirstNet a Real Threat to Ham Radio? Reply
by KG4RUL on November 8, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Also to consider when using Sat Phones is the limited bandwidth on the transponders. If there are users with a higher priority than you, and all available connections are in used, you may have a hard time or never get on at all.
 
Is FirstNet a Real Threat to Ham Radio? Reply
by AC5WO on November 8, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
FirstNet is not much more of a threat to ham radio than existing cellular networks. Hams mostly handle health and welfare traffic for the general public, not emergency communications for public safety. FirstNet will be just AT&T with LTE band 14 788-798MHz uplink, 758-768MHz downlink added plus special preemption capability for law enforcement users. The standards for band 14 include a 31dBm (1.25w) maximum power vs. only 23dBm (200mw) maximum power for most cellular radios. 8dB more power and efficient vehicle mounted antennas should make FirstNet coverage noticeably better than coverage using a typical cell phone. AT&T's primary motivation is to sell cellular service so I expect that FirstNet coverage will be very robust in areas with lots of paying customers and bare minimum in areas with fewer customers. AT&T would be expected to continuously upgrade the LTE network to sell more service, unlike government maintained networks. AT&T's secondary motivation is to not pay other networks when AT&T's customer roam off of the AT&T network so AT&T getting paid to build band 14 nationwide severely hurts rural cellular networks dependent on roaming revenue.
 
Is FirstNet a Real Threat to Ham Radio? Reply
by AC5WO on November 8, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
The Atlantic article from 2016 raised some concerns that FirstNet would be outdated soon after it was installed. Part of the confusion comes from the useless marketing hype surrounding "5G". The very flexible LTE standard goes through incremental changes roughly every year, currently Release 13, so there isn't much difference between the last "4G" LTE equipment and the first "5G" LTE equipment. Mostly a software upgrade. Not sure if LTE Release 15 will be "5G" LTE or whether the cellular carriers will jump the gun and claim that Release 14 is "5G" LTE. Probably doesn't matter in the context of two 10 MHz chunks of spectrum below 800 MHz built out to support public safety users. Really hard to do massive MIMO at that low a frequency due to antenna array size, adding millimeter wave bands to compete with cable television is irrelevant to FirstNet, and current LTE releases already allow small cells. Maybe the lower latency of Release 14 matters.
 
Is FirstNet a Real Threat to Ham Radio? Reply
by KB4QAA on November 9, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Firstnet is not a threat to amateur radio. They don't compete.

Firstnet is a government sponsored emergency communications system. Amateur radio is a hobby of personal technical training.

End of discussion.
 
RE: Is FirstNet a Real Threat to Ham Radio? Reply
by KG4RUL on November 10, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
"Firstnet is a government sponsored emergency communications system. Amateur radio is a hobby of personal technical training."

Agreed to a certain extent. The stated role of Amateur radio, per FCC §97.1(a) is: Recognition and enhancement of the value of the amateur service to the public as a voluntary noncommercial communication service, particularly with respect to providing emergency communications.

The FCC expects us to function in this role. SO, we can fill in the gaps in the bigger systems, whether created by lack of infrastructure or failure of same. We need to bring out our inner McGyver to do this.
 
RE: Is FirstNet a Real Threat to Ham Radio? Reply
by KB4QAA on November 10, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
No. There is no requirement for amateurs to perform public service or emergency communications. None.
 
RE: Is FirstNet a Real Threat to Ham Radio? Reply
by KG4RUL on November 10, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
SO, why is the language there if thereis not expectation?
 
Lefty conspiracy? Reply
by SSBER on November 10, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
We may need it after the alt-left starts a new civil war this weekend?
 
RE: Lefty conspiracy? Reply
by GM1FLQ on November 13, 2017 Mail this to a friend!

"We may need it after the alt-left starts a new civil war this weekend?"

Yeah, heard they've all been knitting new Birkenstocks in readiness.
 
RE: Lefty conspiracy? Reply
by GM1FLQ on November 13, 2017 Mail this to a friend!

.........the alt-lefties that is.......
 
RE: Lefty conspiracy? Reply
by SSBER on November 17, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Don't men is Scotland wear dresses?
 
Is FirstNet a Real Threat to Ham Radio? Reply
by K0JEG on November 18, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Most states have to decide by the end of the year if they want to opt in to the system or opt out and go it alone. Verizon is offering a competing system that is interoperable with the Firstnet network and there's cash money available from FEMA for opt-out states to purchase equipment. Otherwise, if a state opts in they only buy handsets and pay monthly fees, and can prioritize new tower locations and (optionally) purchase AT&T compatible mobile cell sites (COWs) that will also help fill in areas until the network is built out.

It's not a bad plan, but it is very much a way for AT&T to build out their network with a subsidy.
 
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