[aprssig] Pagers as part of the Text Messaging Initiative

Bob Bruninga bruninga at usna.edu
Tue Jan 27 00:02:40 EST 2009

> Bob, the FCC does not give hoot about 
> your "Universal Amateur Radio Text 
> Messaging Initiative". 

I agree.  But generally, I would say that they also do not give a hoot about much of anything else we do as long as it is for the good of amateur radio and the service for which we are licensed.  Often the only thing they give a hoot about are some nit-picking issues forced on their table by some little tempest in a teapot between incalcitrant crumudgeons usually trying to force a ruling against the other guy.
(present company excepted...)

> Even if it was the coolest thing ever in  
> ham radio (and it isn't),

I think it is.  Looking at the web page: www.aprs.org/aprs-messaging.html I count over a dozen EXISTING text messaging systems already in Ham radio.  All we are suggesting with this new initiative is that we should tie them together.  Its amazing that we haven't done that already.  Your APRS-IS and the WU2Z email engines were a really big start, but we have not made much progress in the 11 years since.

> 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 ... 
> "one-way" is not defined in the rules, 
> so you have to infer the meaning...

Which means one has to be creative to find ways to NOT do new creative things in ham radio.  I prefer to consider that something generally good that takes a new way of looking at things and which generally gets amateur radio operators better able to make contact and communicate, in general, good for ham radio and good for the community and good for public service.

> I think from all this, the only 
> definition I can come up with for 
> one-way [transmissions] 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.

Well, I  pretty much reject that one.  That casts as illegal almost every commuter net, every HF round table, and most formal nets.  Basically, it makes anything other then FULL-DUPLEX simultaneous 2-way transmissions illegal.  Or said another way, when I make a transmission to a group, even if it is just saying "wow, what a great sunny day", I generaly do expect a reply from my fellow net participants.

> 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. 

AH, but that is the number one failure of understanding by so many in Amateur radio lead by the missinformed use of one-way trackers that is ruining the concept of APRS as a network for digital information exchange..  APRS was never about one-way transmissions, any more so than a commuter on a VHF repeater participating in a roundtable commuter net is making a one-way transmission.

I have been repeating this for now 15 years,  APRS is a network consisting of everyone in a local area or RF domain that is participating in the net.  They transmit their new information to the net and they receive other's information from the net.  It just is no simpler than that, and none of these transmissions are "one-way".  (Though as you have heard me say over and over again, anyone with a tracker on APRS should be monitoring, else why is he in the net?)

> If I send my position out with MacAPRS, 
> I do not get a reply from other stations. 
> That makes it a one-way transmission.

I think that statement would appear to show a fundamental lack of understanding of APRS.  It is no more a one-way transmission than my pushing my PTT button in the morning and saying, "Im just entering route 50 in Annapolis headed to work, who gets it next?".

> In general, one-way transmission is banned, 

Yes, when "one-way" means as the FCC intended, to prevent the illegal concept of using amateur radio to broadcast music, entertainment, information, or just about anything else with the intent to put a radio station on the air without any intent to participate in a net.  Or to use  amateur radio for commercial or other one-way distributinos that are supposed to be used on another FCC service.

> 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."

Sure there is some telemetry on APRS, and the format of that telemetry is well defined in the spec.  But that represents probably less than 1% of APRS.  Unless (as you do below) you want to include WX in that, which I agree in many cases from other than a home station, is telemetry).  All the other APRS packets have nothing to do with "telemetry" nor anything do do with "one-way" transmissions of measurements from a remote instrument.

I have to repeat again.  APRS is a network.  And like any other network, only one station can transmit at a time, and when he does, he is not making a "one-way" transmission, any more so than any other amateur radio operator in any other net.  When he has new information for the net he transmits his information to update everyone else in the net and all the rest of the time, he is receiving from everyone else in the net to receive their new information.  APRS was desinged as an EFFICIENT network protocol to share information among ALL participants in the net, (compared to the hopelessly inefficient one-on-one packet connection protocol that was being used prior to APRS).

> Certainly weather transmissions are telemetry 
> under the rules. 

Yes, we agree here for remote WX instruments with no one in attendance or listening to the net.  But for the first 6 years or so of APRS, a WX instrument was just an attachment to one's home APRS station that simplified the reporting of local weather data instead of having to go get the cat and make a report (if its wet, its raining.  If it long, its hot.  If it is curled up, it is cold, etc)...

> Most the other kinds of information sent on  
> the APRS network can be stretched with very 
> little effort to be called measurements. 

Making such attempts at "stretching concepts" seems to me to undermine common sense and belies the common ham radio practice of operating networks, be they voice nets, or APRS.

> 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.

Then by that kind of a narrow interpretation, (or lack there of), all REPEATER operation with more than two participants is illegal.  Any HF net with more than two people is illegal, etc...  This seems quite an effort at finding ways to prevent good efficient communications in amateur radio and does little to support our service.

> Even if this were acceptable, clearly 
> pagers do not fit as that is by  
> definition aimed at a single receiver 
> designated by the tones.

But so is selective calling. And even more fundamental, so is the simple call "W3XYZ, this is W3ABC"

> 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. 

No, nor does talking about my bad knee or galstones.  A page or a paging message is one amateur radio oprator calling another licensed amateur radio operator.  It is no different than holding your PTT and saying "W3ABC this is W3XYZ".  Both amateur radio operators are involved in an amateur radio communications.

> 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.

Ah, now we are getting on the same wavelength...

> 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.

Well, here is where I disagree in general.  Because if I receive such a communications, I -will- acknowledge it.  And I think it is -fundamental- to amateur radio and just about any two-way radio service that it is incumbent on recepients of an intended radio communications to acknowledge that communication.  Usually it is taught as "roger, ..." and sometimes re-inforced by the nonsensical hollywood "roger, wilco, over and out"...

In the military, in amateur radio and even in scouts and in radio 101 wherever you find it, or in the marine band, dispatchers, and emergency services... the general principle is that you acknowledge receipt of information.  This is fundamental to radio, a system where the sender cannot know if his message was received unless the recepient responds.

Even on FRS radio, the first think I teach kids, is that they must at least "roger" all information they receive.

So, if I get a page, that says, Ham Radio is great!, I will eventually respond, with "Hey joe, I got your message on my pager".  To ignore a message received from someone else is rude and violates the fundamental principles of any two-way service.  Generally speaking of course...

> 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 system.

I agree.  And since amateur radio operators participate in a two-way commmunications service, there is no requirement that I know of as to the time delay required in closing the two-way loop.  Is it one second as enforced with the timers on most repeaters, is it 10 minutes like the time it takes the roundtable to get back to you on a net?  Is it 30 minutes from the time you get an amatur radio text message before you are back in your car and able to respond?  Or is it 3 hours until you get the message and can send back a response?  Or is it 3 days or a week?

Ham radio is full of message traffic that can sometimes take many days for the reply.  Witness the National Traffic System (NTS) which has been doing it that way for nearly a century....

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

Ah, but I think it is a great idea! to work together to link the dozen or more existing test-messaging systems already in ham radio so that anywhere, any time, using any device, any ham can send a communication to any other ham knowing only his callsign.  

And therefore, (drum roll please)... it must be legal.  Since we have been trying to improve our efficiency at communications since marconi first discovered radio, and all we are doing is trying to improve on the tools we have to better the process.

Or something like that... ;-)


> On Jan 26, 2009, 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 already have... Now we 
>> just need the code and gateways to tie 
>> them all together...
>> Bob, WB4APR

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