eHam.net - Amateur Radio (Ham Radio) Community

Call Search
     

New to Ham Radio?
My Profile

Community
Articles
Forums
News
Reviews
Friends Remembered
Strays
Survey Question

Operating
Contesting
DX Cluster Spots
Propagation

Resources
Calendar
Classifieds
Ham Exams
Ham Links
List Archives
News Articles
Product Reviews
QSL Managers

Site Info
eHam Help (FAQ)
Support the site
The eHam Team
Advertising Info
Vision Statement
About eHam.net



[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:
This article has expired. No more comments may be added.
 
Is FirstNet a Real Threat to Ham Radio?  
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?  
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?  
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?  
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?  
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?  
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?  
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?  
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?  
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?  
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?  
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?  
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?  
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?  
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?  
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?  
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?  
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?  
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?  
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?  
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?  
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  
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?  
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?  
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?  
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?  
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?  
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?  
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?  
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?  
by KG4RUL on November 10, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
SO, why is the language there if thereis not expectation?
 
Lefty conspiracy?  
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?  
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?  
by GM1FLQ on November 13, 2017 Mail this to a friend!

.........the alt-lefties that is.......
 
RE: Lefty conspiracy?  
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?  
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.
 
RE: Lefty conspiracy?  
by GM1FLQ on November 20, 2017 Mail this to a friend!

"Don't men is Scotland wear dresses?"

Oh sure, it's not unique to America - apparently global pandering to the lefty PC brigade whereby it seems that some identify as Mr. on Tuesdays & Thursdays, Mrs. on Mondays & Fridays and gender neutral at the weekend.
 
RE: Lefty conspiracy?  
by SSBER on November 21, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
That reminds me of a funny scene on Monty Python, where a bunch of Scots, wearing dresses, start running towards the English, and English run away in fear.
 
RE: Lefty conspiracy?  
by GM1FLQ on November 27, 2017 Mail this to a friend!

A quote from Lt Col Colin ("Mad Mitch") Mitchell -

"It is the most thrilling sound in the world to go into action with the pipes playing. It stirs the blood and reminds one of the heritage of Scotland and the Regiment. Best of all it frightens the enemy to death."

In 1967 in Aden it he did just that, went into battle with the bagpipes and drums blaring, hardly a shot fired - the enemy (around 500 of them) ran off.

True story.
 
Is FirstNet a Real Threat to Ham Radio?  
by NEVBEN on November 27, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Amateur radio is just that, it is not government or bureaucratic radio, it is not public service radio, and it is not primarily for emergency communications.

It is convenient that amateur radio can be effective for some emergency communications, and it is wonderful that a few amateurs are highly skilled in this area, but it will never satiate a "hungry hippo" (aka. Behemoth).

I imagine that as important as e-payment, credit-card transaction processing, and data services from online shopping and commerce to video streaming and gaming are becoming to multi-trillion dollar industries, they will continue to build resiliency that will surpass the practical use of amateur radio for emergency communications.

In other words, it's more important with far more dollars behind that importance for Apple, Amazon, Google, Walmart, Microsoft etc. that every soccer-mom's iphone is working than it is important that some ham's NVIS experiment is working. It doesn't really matter whether the emergency is a hurricane, earthquake, fire, flood, or war. Sales and revenue must continue and there's much more than billions of dollars to make sure it does.

Amateurs might not need billions to keep functioning (although it could be argued that they do spend billions), but the function amateurs provide in emergency communications is mostly irrelevant.

You could say, oh but look what they were doing in Puerto Rico (for example), but in case you didn't notice, Puerto Rico is "mostly irrelevant" (to the revenue streams). Its only significance has become that of pork-barrel projects for the benefit of other constituencies.
 
RE: Is FirstNet a Real Threat to Ham Radio?  
by GM1FLQ on December 1, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
"In other words, it's more important with far more dollars behind that importance for Apple, Amazon, Google, Walmart, Microsoft etc. that every soccer-mom's iphone is working than it is important that some ham's NVIS experiment is working. It doesn't really matter whether the emergency is a hurricane, earthquake, fire, flood, or war. Sales and revenue must continue and there's much more than billions of dollars to make sure it does."

Yep, next credit crunch on its way down the track.....only a matter of time.....the thick 90%+ will never learn......
 
Is FirstNet a Real Threat to Ham Radio?  
by STRAIGHTKEY on December 6, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
This has got to be the stupidest article I've read on Eham in a long time. The comments are equally stupid.
 
Is FirstNet a Real Threat to Ham Radio?  
by AJ4DW on December 8, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Nothing is really a threat to Ham radio... aside from a broken transceiver I guess. Ham radio is what it always was and what it will always be, the last grasp at communicating when everything else fails.

I don't feel threatened by hardened communications systems dedicated to police, fire, etc. I'm just glad that I can enjoy my radios and that I can help where I can help. Why do so many people want to be "the best", the "indispensable", "Superman"?

There's room for us all.
 
Is FirstNet a Real Threat to Ham Radio?  
by NO6L on December 9, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
It's not because the government is inept, "Follow the money trail". You will see it's just a money laundering scheme to get tax money into a "certain" political parties "war chest" through the unions. The same as high speed rail and other debacles. All failed government programs are. Unless it's social programs, that's purely to buy votes.

At least the money for a $600 toilet seat the military buys is actually used for something... like a top secret program... for our defense. And no, I don't trust them 100% either.
 
RE: Is FirstNet a Real Threat to Ham Radio?  
by AB5S on December 23, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
EXCELLENT points. If people only realized their modern lives hang on the most fragile of spider-webs. Somewhere out there is a 66 block with a single bad punch-down that's going to fail and take-down half the country.
 
RE: Is FirstNet a Real Threat to Ham Radio?  
by KN7P on December 26, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
I've certainly seen some fragile things in telecom, and it takes careful planning (and recurring auditing) to make sure a properly designed redundant network design can suffer a complete node/site/city failure and have the rest of it still operate. Something I rarely see in large networks over a long period of time.
 
Email Subscription
You are not subscribed to discussions on this article.

Subscribe!
My Subscriptions
Subscriptions Help

Related News & Articles
Combining Amateur Radio and American History


Other Recent Articles
Amateur Radio Operators Needed to Help Communication After Michael:
Weather Forecasts from Space Could Help Protect Us from Solar Flares:
DX News -- ARRL DX Bulletin #43:
Just Ahead In Radiosport:
ARRL Executive Committee to Meet in Minneapolis: