Amateur Radio Operators Advancing the Radio Art
Here are two areas that amateurs can work on to advance the radio art with digital modes and protocols that will have lasting value. Narrowband Digital Modes
(1) The number of amateurs is expected to rise - but unfortunately the amount of spectrum that we will have access to, particularly on HF, will not follow that rise. This tells us that our spectrum will become progressively more congested for the forseeable future.
(2) Also note that any fool can "do more" by hogging up more spectrum - but it takes considerable ingenuity to discover ways to do more with less spectrum. This tells us that the strongest emphasis should be placed upon improving performance of narrowband digital modes.
(3) Noting (1) and (2) it follows that a paradigm that seeks to do more by using more spectrum will have no lasting value, and a paradigm that seeks to do more with less spectrum will have value that lasts far into the forseeable future.
Conclusion (A) Amateurs who work on advancing narrowband digital modes will return lasting value, and a true advancement of the radio art. Work on wideband modes that hog up more and more spectrum is a self-absorbed, thoughtless substitute for advancing the art that will not have any lasting value. Network Design
(1) Wired Network design assumes that long-haul links will have much greater bandwidth than access links, thus providing 'transparency' where users are not slowed down by the fact that there are many other users on the high-capacity long-haul 'backbone' links.
(2) Radio networks have long-haul, 'backbone' links that have much less bandwidth than the user access, the direct opposite of what wired networks are designed to work with.
(3) Noting (1) and (2) it follows that a paradigm that seeks to innovate, improving our ability to network with RF will have lasting value, advancing the radio art. Any fool can "speed things up" by using an internet crutch, but it takes considerable ingenuity to do more with radio. Work on trying to emulate a wired networking paradigm with RF is a sure prescription for failure, will be of no lasting value and of course will do nothing to advance the radio art.
Conclusion (B) Amateurs who work on innovation in RF networking will return lasting value, and true advancement of the radio art. Work on trying to emulate wired networking with RF is a self-absorbed, thoughtless substitute for advancing the art that will return no lasting value. A Note about Network Design and Advancing the Radio Art
Terrestrial, wired network design is well-developed. Researchers in this area are backed by large instututions vwhich, despite thier enormous resources both intellectual and financial - have only managed to bring incremental advances forward in recent years.
Radio networking has not had much attention because here on Earth, one can simply hook up to a wired 'backbone' link to achieve the transparency that wired networking design assumes.
In the foreseeable future though, groups of people people living off-Earth on planets, moons and space habitats will not have the option of simply hooking up to wired networking backbone links and so they will face the very same set of conditions that Amateur Radio RF networking faces today. - User access and local communications that have significantly more availble bandwidth than what is possible on the long-haul links.
This is amateur radio's outstanding opportunity to contribute significant innovation today, advancing the radio art in a way that will have lasting value for future generations. We have the singular advantage of a planet-sized working laboratory, and more intellectual assets than any other group or institution working upon this particular issue today.
If we get cracking on this right now, nobody will question the utility of the amateur radio service for many long years to come. Right now, we can contrubute to the radio art in a way that matches that of the work of the amateur scientists who initiated amateur radio more than a century ago.
This is our challenge and our opportunity today.
73 DE Charles, N5PVL