[aprssig] Pagers as part of the Text Messaging Initiative

Steve Dimse steve at dimse.com
Mon Jan 26 20:45:13 EST 2009

First, an apology to all you outside the US, this of course only  
applies to the USA APRS network.

Bob, the FCC does not give hoot about your "Universal Amateur Radio  
Text Messaging Initiative". Even if it was the coolest thing ever in  
ham radio (and it isn't), it still has to fit the rules as they exist  
(or you need to get the FCC to change the rules).

Please remember that Part 97 is a legal document, and many of the  
terms used within are carefully, and narrowly, defined in ways that  
may be somewhat different from common usage. Interestingly, one-way is  
not defined in the rules, so you have to infer the meaning. Your  
statement about the network implies that if it is "aimed" at a bunch  
of ham listeners, it is not one way. However, the rules specifically  
state that beacon stations can transmit one-way. That means a station  
aimed at a network of listeners is one-way. Auxiliary stations by  
definition are point-to-point, and also are explicitly allowed one-way  
transmissions. I think from all this the only definition I can come up  
with for one-way is the common-sense one, specifically "a transmission  
from one amateur station to one or more amateur stations which receive  
the transmission and do not transmit a reply". If you feel you have a  
better one, please feel free to share.

No one can realistically claim the APRS RF network is broadcasting.  
Part 97 defines that as "Transmissions intended for reception by the  
general public, either direct or relayed." So please do not use that  
term, it just confuses things.

One way transmission is distinctly different from broadcasting, and  
the rules directly reflect that. IMNSHO there are many one-way  
transmissions on the APRS RF frequencies. If I send my position out  
with MacAPRS, I do not get a reply from other stations. That makes it  
a one-way transmission.

In general, one-way transmission is banned, but some specific  
exceptions are allowed. The one that makes much of APRS possible is  
telemetry, defined in the rules as "A one-way transmission of  
measurements at a distance from the measuring instrument."

Certainly weather transmissions are telemetry under the rules. Only  
slightly less certain to be legal is position, being a measurement of  
the location of a station. Most the other kinds of information sent on  
the APRS network can be stretched with very little effort to be called  
measurements. Most messages appearing on RF can be justified as either  
a two way communication if part of a QSO, or information bulletins,  
another allowed one-way transmission (also with a specific definition  
- "A message directed only to amateur operators consisting solely of  
subject matter of direct interest to the amateur service."). These are  
the rules that make APRS legal, not your general statement that there  
are a network of participants, which nowhere appears in Part 97. Even  
if this were acceptable, clearly pagers do not fit as that is by  
definition aimed at a single receiver designated by the tones.

I don't think I could call a page I sent to Bob telemetry, nor would  
it be of direct interest to the amateur radio service. There is,  
though, one other allowable one-way transmission that you might be  
able to say covered it "Brief transmissions necessary to establishing  
two-way communications with other stations" If Bob is not on RF, and I  
want to start a QSO with him, I could look the FCC in the eye and say  
a pager transmission was legal. In this case, the content of the  
message matters. If I page "Bob, meet me on 147.000+", I'm absolutely  
covered. If I page "Bob, thanks for creating APRS", I'm not so sure  
I'm safe.

So my position is that pagers do not qualify as a group, but specific  
content may make it possible to include paging as a component of your  

Just please, don't argue that your idea is good, therefore it must be  

Steve K4HG

On Jan 26, 2009, at 5:56 PM, Robert Bruninga wrote:

> God help us if the FCC cannot see the value of pagers to the
> Universal Amateur Radio Text Messaging Initiative.
> www.aprs.org/aprs-messaging.html
> The APRS network and all pieces of it is no more one-way
> broadcasting as is any other form of amateur radio when you push
> the PTT.  APRS is a network of participants, and they cannot all
> talk at once.  But when they do transmit information, they
> transmit it to everyone in the network.
> Bob, WB4APR
>> -----Original Message-----
>> Is beaconing no longer permissable?
>> It was always in the eye of the
>> beholder.
>> On Jan 26, 2009, at 14:36,... wrote:
>>> I wonder if some consider it one way so its broadcasting?
>>>> Older, working pagers are a dime a dozen
>>>> on the used market and  there are some
>>>> people who have refitted them to work on
>>>> Amateur bands[2].
>>> ... there (quite literally) buckets full of
>>> working pagers at HamFests, why not have a
>>> "messagegate" that takes APRS messages to
>>> stations and translates them to a message
>>> destined for a POCSAG compatible pager.
> Yes!!!  I have now added this category to the other DOZEN text
> messaging capabilities we alreay have... Now we just need the
> code and gateways to tie them all together...
> Bob, WB4APR
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