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RF Shorts – Feb. 9, 2012

Ham Radio Happenings at WRC-12
Ham radio is well represented at the World Radiocommunications Conference 2012 (WRC-12). The American Radio Relay League (ARRL) reported Nobel Laureate Joe Taylor, K1JT, Addresses Plenary Session at WRC-12, Receives ITU Gold Medal.

"On Friday, February 3, delegates and attendees at the 2012 World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-12) had the pleasure of listening to Joe Taylor, K1JT, share his vision of the future of radiocommunication. Taylor--an ARRL member--won the Nobel Prize in physics in 1993 for the discovery of a binary pulsar, a discovery which has opened up new possibilities for the study of gravitation. After the speech, International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Secretary General, Dr. Hamadoun Touré, HB9EHT, presented Taylor with the ITU Gold Medal in recognition of Dr Taylor's outstanding contribution to the research in the field of radiocommunication."

"I'm told that an early interest in Amateur Radio led Joe Taylor to an exciting career in radio astronomy, which then earned him the 1993 Nobel Prize in physics," said Touré. "I share his interest in Amateur Radio with passion, but will that lead me to a Nobel Prize? I'm working on it!"

The ARRL also reported Amateur Allocation at 472 kHz Moves a Step Closer to Acceptance. "[ARRL Chief Executive Officer David] Sumner explained that the formulation that has been agreed upon by most administrations calls for a worldwide secondary allocation to the Amateur Service at 472-479 kHz, with a power limit of 1 W EIRP. A provision has been made, however, for administrations to permit up to 5 W EIRP for stations located more than 800 km from certain countries that wish to protect their aeronautical radionavigation service (non-directional beacons) from any possible interference."

The proposed footnotes make it possible for administrations "to opt out of the amateur allocation and/or to upgrade their aeronautical radionavigation service to primary, if they wish to do so." Further, the amateur radio service has to avoid interfering with "primary maritime mobile service."

Communicating Across Interstellar Space published an interesting article by guest contributor Pat Galea discussing how a starship may transmit signals across the light-years between the stars Galea discusses the challenges and some potential solutions for communications over such great distances.

"When we think about the engineering required for an interstellar probe, it's easy to get absorbed in the obvious--and admittedly very exciting--challenges involving the propulsion system," Galea says. "However, we also need to keep in mind that unless we can get scientific data from the probe back to Earth then there is very little point in getting the probe to another star at all. The data are the product that we have paid for; all the other engineering can be seen as the means to that end."

Qualcomm Proposes In-Flight Internet Using Ku- Frequencies
Mike Dano, on, writes Qualcomm proposes 300 Gbps in-flight mobile broadband technology, and reports that "Qualcomm has set its sights on the market for mobile broadband on airplanes with a proposal that calls for a nationwide wireless network in the 14 GHz to 14.5 GHz band that could support data connections up to 300 Gbps. However, there are plenty of challenges Qualcomm must overcome for the company's proposition to take flight (pun intended)."

Dano continues:

"A number of companies and entities are staunchly against Qualcomm's proposal, however. At the forefront of the opposition movement is Row 44, a rival to Gogo that powers the in-flight Internet services of Southwest Airlines (the company lost Alaska Airlines to Gogo in 2010). Row 44 argues that Qualcomm 'fails to explain why a new terrestrial mobile service allocation ... is necessary to accommodate the specific types of uses it contemplates for service to airline passengers' and that Qualcomm's proposal could cause interference to adjacent bands."

Dano mentions that Boeing, the Satellite Industry Association, Panasonic Avionics, and others have also expressed concerns that the proposal could generate problems for "those already operating in the spectral vicinity, or those with licenses to do so."

One of the obvious concerns for broadcasters is that this is the same frequency band used for uplinking to Ku-band satellites, and these uplinks include the small "temporary fixed" dishes on the SNG trucks used by TV stations and networks to relay distant news and sports stories back to the studio.

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.