[aprssig] APRS<=>Google

Steve Dimse steve at dimse.com
Fri Oct 17 08:00:14 EDT 2008

I think it is important to keep in mind it is not your own license  
that is at risk. When you create an APRS IS based service that results  
in RF transmission, it is the licenses of the hundreds of IGate  
operators on the line. This concern affected the design of the APRS  
IS, we strove for features that everyone would feel comfortable  
providing through their transmitters. That is why, for example, there  
is no email to RF gateway.

You cannot know the situations of every IGate operator. I might well  
own Steve's Pizzeria. If someone searches for food and Google returns  
my restaurant, the message plugging it mould be transmitted through my  
own IGate, certainly a violation of the rules. Not a problem for you,  
you didn't transmit. A problem for me, and I'd be very unhappy if it  
happened, even if the FCC didn't find out about it.

The other legal problem is the section on alternative services.  
Prohibited transmissions include "communications, on a regular basis,  
which could reasonably be furnished alternatively through other radio  
services." Personally I consider this to be an obsolete rule, and I  
wish the FCC would remove it. There is almost nothing done on ham  
radio that would not meet this definition today. They haven't removed  
it though, it is on the books, and while I have no trouble taking the  
risk for my own transmissions, I'd hesitate before risking hundreds of  
others. At least we can say when we created internet to mobile  
messaging there was no alternative available, you can't say that about  
this service.

Legal issues aside though, this last one is where I see a real limit  
on your audience. Your proposed services are readily available today.  
Everyone with a Blackberry or an iPhone already has access to far  
superior features. I turn on my iPhone, click the map icon (the GPS  
automatically fires up and finds my exact position, if it can't find a  
signal it uses the cell towers to get a position good to a mile or  
two). I type hospital or pizza or whatever, labeled map pins drop on  
the map, I pick the one I want, an info page comes up describing the  
business. One more click and the phone is dialing, at the business'  
web site, or ready with turn by turn directions.

Yes, not everyone has these high end features, but you can bet they  
will be trickling down to everyone's cell phone over the next few  
years. Once someone sees this work they want it!

I'm not saying not to do it, only that you need to consider if the  
benefits are worth the work and the risks to the IGate operators.

Steve K4HG

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