FCC rule said to grow amateur radio and benefit engineers

Professor Theodore (Ted) Rappaport is a faculty advisor for NYU amateur radio. See my EDN article on his Having a Field Day.

Just recently, Professor Rappaport filed comments with the Federal Communications Commission and members of Congress. Rappaport is the researcher credited with proving to the wireless communications world that millimeter wave communications should become the backbone for 5G cellular.

Professor Rappaport supports a proposed FCC ham radio rule, predicting it would open exciting opportunities for growth in amateur radio and encourage youngsters to listen and thereby learn about electronics and communications. He stated, “The FCC has recently recognized a major problem that has existed for decades in ham radio, and in the past few days took steps to institute vital new rules that will grow the hobby by reiterating the fundamental requirement that all radio communications are open, so that the public may listen in.”

Rule RM-11831 has been proposed by Ron Kolarik, a radio amateur from Nebraska. Kolarik exposed two key problems that have plagued the hobby for two decades, through the emergence of data communications and the Internet. Kolarik emphasized that many stations are improperly using effectively encrypted transmissions, which is turning the public airwaves of ham radio into a private point-to-point email system, in violation of many FCC rules.

In November 2018, Professor Rappaport had sent a complaint to the FCC and Congress about the danger of such obscured messages for our national security.

Here is essentially what he said:

“Even in emergency communications, the FCC has ruled clearly that ham radio traffic must always be open to public interception, so that anyone, including the public and other hams, can tune in to listen and learn, and even to help in time of emergency,” Rappaport wrote. “Ham radio is what led me and thousands of others into a career of electronics and communications, and it all started by listening to shortwave, which then led me to ham radio and my N9NB call sign as a teenager. This new rulemaking will ensure that young computer enthusiasts will be able to use open source software and readily available decoding methods to listen in by tinkering and engaging with an exciting hobby that encourages international goodwill and develops the soft skills and electronics know-how needed to succeed in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).”

He also applauded the ARRL’s recent acknowledgement of the problems of obscured data and digital aggression…that exist in the hobby today.

Professor Rappaport concluded, “Having openly decodable communication is the only way to engage the public, self-police the amateur spectrum (as required by FCC), and grow a healthy, open, and inclusive hobby that attracts youth. The FCC has recognized this with RM-11831. With this proposal, there will be no loss of emergency communications capabilities and no loss of legitimate data. The ruling simply reaffirms that all store-and-forward transmissions need to be confined to the FCC-allocated sub-bands already made available for this type of data so that they avoid interfering with others, and that all transmissions will be openly decodable by other hams, the public, and the FCC. I sincerely hope that by being able to listen in, youngsters will become fascinated with the magic of radio, just like I and thousands of others did before we finished high school.”

I am proud to be an Alumnus of both NYU Engineering (1968-1972) with my BEEE and Polytechnic University (1983-1988) with my MSEE. Professors like Ted Rappaport are the kind of educators that have made both NYU Engineering and Polytechnic University the excellent halls of learning they are today by their dedication to knowledge coupled with a solid involvement in student activities.

Here is the history of NYU Wireless and NYU Tandon School of Engineering.

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