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Old 10-04-2019, 13:28   #76
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Re: pactor banned from the usa?

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Originally Posted by Paul Elliott View Post
So is your issue solely with PACTOR? Say PACTOR was open-source, or we shifted over to the existing open-source options such as WINMOR or the newer modes, or JS8 (my new favorite for extremely low-bandwidth communications, but definitely not usable for GRIBs.) Would the current usage then be OK?


Because if we strictly follow the not to be used for "Communications, on a regular basis, which could reasonably be furnished alternatively through other radio services", then most of the time we should be using cellphones / internet / satellite / Sailmail on the marine bands.

It seems to me that the use of PACTOR and/or other techniques to obfuscate/encrypt transmissions is the main bone of contention. I don't think the ham community is against data transmission; some of the most active, growing areas of amateur radio are the data modes.

But the allowing of proprietary, protected encryption/compression breaks one of the main governing principles of the amateur bands. Which like Prof Rappaport states, are akin to a national park or other public space.

The amount of discussion about this suggests that there is a clear hunger for reliable, inexpensive, hassle-free long-range private email and other data services for cruisers and others. Such users don't really want to be radio amateurs; they just want to use some of the HF ham band and the commodity transceivers. The ideal solution is to allocate bandwidth for this use, instead of trying to alter the nature of amateur radio.
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Old 10-04-2019, 16:35   #77
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Re: pactor banned from the usa?

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The amount of discussion about this suggests that there is a clear hunger for reliable, inexpensive, hassle-free long-range private email and other data services for cruisers and others. Such users don't really want to be radio amateurs; they just want to use some of the HF ham band and the commodity transceivers. The ideal solution is to allocate bandwidth for this use, instead of trying to alter the nature of amateur radio.

But there is already plenty of spectrum allocated to hf radio for marine use. It allows conducting business and does not require any testing. Just go online, sign up, pay for the license and subscribe to SailMail. It’s easy and reliable in my experience. New marine hf radios are really good today. Expensive but good. Even a 20 year old hf marine band radio works well. PACTOR modems work really well with new and old radios.

A world cruiser really should have a ships station license anyway. In the US a license is good for 10 years and comes with the world wide MMSI number needed for DSC and SAR outside US SAR areas. And legally, you need such a license to operate even a VHF radio for speaking with a foreign base station. Although many cruisers flaunt this seldom enforced rule.
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Old 10-04-2019, 17:39   #78
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Re: pactor banned from the usa?

Maybe if the FCC lowered the requirements for radios to be used on marine frequencies this would be a non-issue. But that is not the case. Modern day ham radios are probably as compliant and tighter on the requirements than older marine radios. If the FCC was serious, they would require the older marine radios be re-certified and allow ham radios on marine bands, with proper license of course.
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Old 10-04-2019, 20:06   #79
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Re: pactor banned from the usa?

What is the best way to support winlink? I tried to post a comment on FCC website but I cannot figure out how to file it.. can you advise?



Quote:
Originally Posted by mathiasben View Post
I received this email from winlink

This is NOT an April Fool's joke!


The FCC has just opened for comment RM-11831, a proposal for rule making that would do two things the the US amateur radio rules:


1) remove paragraph (c) of 97.221. This would disallow narrow-bandwidth ARQ modes of 500 Hz or less from outside the specified 97.221 sub bands for automatically controlled digital stations. This will require all Winlink HF gateway stations, regardless of mode/technique, to only operate within these narrow sub bands.


2) modify the wording of 97.309(4) thusly:
(4) An amateur station transmitting a RTTY or data emission using a digital code specified in this paragraph may use any technique whose technical characteristics have been documented publicly, *such as CLOVER, G-TOR, or PacTOR,* (remove *-*, add the following and the protocol used can be be monitored, in it's entirety, by 3rd parties, with freely available open source software, for the purpose of facilitating communications.

This effectively eliminates Pactor 2, 3, and 4 from the US amateur bands unless SCS steps up and publishes complete technical specifications including their proprietary signal processing methods, and produces an open-source monitoring program allowing on-air eavesdropping by third parties.

The Winlink Team will have to produce monitoring software for an unconnected eavesdropper for WINMOR, ARDOP. VARA's author must do the same. The alternative is for Winlink to close shop for US licensees on HF amateur bands.

See and read the new proceeding from the link below. The 30-day comment period opened on 28 March.


https://www.fcc.gov/ecfs/search/fili...seminated,DESC

Unless we receive support from users on this serious threat, Winlink will be forced to close shop on HF in the USA. US and non-US users and gateway operators are urged to educate themselves and comment!

Sincerely,


Lor Kutchins, W3QA

Winlink Development Team


President,

Amateur Radio Safety Foundation, Inc.
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Old 10-04-2019, 23:08   #80
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Re: pactor banned from the usa?

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It seems to me that the use of PACTOR and/or other techniques to obfuscate/encrypt transmissions is the main bone of contention.
The thing is that PACTOR by itself is not encrypted or obfsucated. It is coded and compressed but this is by no means the same as encryption. This coding/compression may be proprietary, but it can be decoded by anyone who has a PACTOR modem.

So if the real issue is that you can't download a free PACTOR decoder, then argue that point. But don't claim it's encryption, because it isn't.

(I'm speaking more to the original FCC filing, not to anyone here in particular.)
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Old 10-04-2019, 23:55   #81
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Re: pactor banned from the usa?

'The amount of discussion about this suggests that there is a clear hunger for reliable, inexpensive, hassle-free"
i have a friend who has that same demand about a lot of things. It is what the Republicans refer to as "Magical Thinking" every time the Democrats propose something without to any thought of what will fund it.
You can get DIRT CHEAP global communication OFF THE SHELF right now. It is called satellite phones and satellite terminals. And it is simple, just like using any other simple radio or phone.
Now, before anyone says satcoms are damned expensive, they're not cheap? Cell phones had base plans for 30 minutes of voice only, $60/month. That's two bucks a minute. Plus long distance, plus roaming, and the total cost usually came out around $4 a minute to call the next county.
For the same $4, maybe 5, you can get that same very affordable communications with satcoms. And the people who think they should be able to do it for free on radio? Hey, the radios are out there. Feel free to jump on an alternate scheme, and then try to get it adpoted worldwide.
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Old 11-04-2019, 00:32   #82
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Re: pactor banned from the usa?

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You can get DIRT CHEAP global communication OFF THE SHELF right now
If I am following your argument, then I should not be using ham radio to chat with my local friends, using any mode or any frequency, because we could just pick up our phones and make a practically free call. So back in the olden days when we didn't have telephones, using ham radio for casual conversations was just fine, but now that we have reasonable alternatives we should use the available commercial services instead?

And by extension, we shouldn't use ham radio at sea because satphones have become pretty cheap?

Is that what it all boils down to? If so, I don't buy the premise.
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Old 11-04-2019, 01:44   #83
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Re: pactor banned from the usa?

The cruising portion of this debate is actually a pretty small bit of a much larger ham radio issue. (but feel free to continue this discussion here!)

If you are interested in the big picture, check out the discussion going on the forum at the ham radio website QRZ.com: https://forums.qrz.com/index.php?thr...-11831.652589/
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Old 11-04-2019, 03:22   #84
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Re: pactor banned from the usa?

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Originally Posted by lucseawalker View Post
What is the best way to support winlink? I tried to post a comment on FCC website but I cannot figure out how to file it.. can you advise?
See this link:

https://www.fcc.gov/ecfs/search/fili...sseminated,ASC

on the left side you will see a link labeled + Express. Click that link and fill in the form.
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Old 11-04-2019, 03:55   #85
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Re: pactor banned from the usa?

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If I am following your argument, then I should not be using ham radio to chat with my local friends, using any mode or any frequency, because we could just pick up our phones and make a practically free call. So back in the olden days when we didn't have telephones, using ham radio for casual conversations was just fine, but now that we have reasonable alternatives we should use the available commercial services instead?

And by extension, we shouldn't use ham radio at sea because satphones have become pretty cheap?

Is that what it all boils down to? If so, I don't buy the premise.
No, that is not what it boils down to. This part of the discussion is pretty far from the original post in this thread so I don't want to spend more time on it. Especially because anyone can read the plain language in the 97.113 rule and decide what they think it means.
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Old 11-04-2019, 11:29   #86
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Re: pactor banned from the usa?

Not at all, Paul. Ham radio may be convenient for cruisers, but it is not uniquely mission critical. For critical communications, cruisers have specific *marine* allocations. That's like mom saying "Eat your broccoli". What anyone else is having, is not relevant.

That ham radio is given certain privileges and requirements, is something else again. A much larger context and a much larger issue, not to be confused with whether Popeye will be allowed to keep eating spinach.

And similarly, not to be confused with whether an *encoding* scheme is encryption. It isn't. Hams are allowed to use "codes" but those are different "codes" from the ones used to push more data in a digital stream. If anyone can order a box that decodes the same digital data--that's code, not encryption, and I expect the FCC does or can tell the difference. The complainant seems to think the "encoding" used to transparently compress digital data is encryption, and it isn't.

Whether an algorithm is patent protected has no bearing on the issue, as long as 'anyone' can just walk up and buy the box. That makes it publicly available.

This is like the argument from radio scanner hobbyists, that when a PD or FD or other service switches to an encrypted network, they've been illegally harmed somehow. Not really...security in emergency operations is a valid concern. No one has "a right to eavesdrop on everything everywhere".

So you may "require" a Pactor modem, arguing that it isn't encrypted. But then you might as well also say radios should either be free, or banned. Because without one of those highly proprietary, expensive, RADIO things, I still can't understand the data that Pactor and Winlink and everyone else is ENCODING. Where does it end?
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Old 11-04-2019, 15:58   #87
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Re: pactor banned from the usa?

Ham radio has always had restrictions on what it could be used for and what communication techniques were permissible. For example, only about 40 countries have “third party” communications agreements with the US. That means that if you’re operating a ham station in their jurisdiction, you can ask the other party to forward the message to a non-ham recipient. Otherwise, you can’t. I’d suspect that a large part of the cruising community using Winlink are technically violating this. If one wishes to avoid this restriction, one can use Sailmail or one of the other commercial services.

I use both services and have been cruising full time since 1998. They both have their place.
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Old 11-04-2019, 16:03   #88
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Re: pactor banned from the usa?

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The thing is that PACTOR by itself is not encrypted or obfsucated. It is coded and compressed but this is by no means the same as encryption. This coding/compression may be proprietary, but it can be decoded by anyone who has a PACTOR modem.

So if the real issue is that you can't download a free PACTOR decoder, then argue that point. But don't claim it's encryption, because it isn't.
I get the point you're making... so first, yes I'll argue it. Ham radio shouldn't require proprietary systems or equipment. But also - if I understand correctly, PACTOR plus ARQ results in transmissions that are not decipherable by a third party even if they have the required PACTOR modem. For all intents and purposes it is encrypted, or might as well be, right?

(As I understand it, PACTOR 1 is open-source, the other versions -2,3,4 - are not)

Looking further into the use of Winlink... the big issue seems to be terrestrial use, for which there is no equivalent of the dedicated HF marine band. So I don't know if this is something that seriously affects cruisers...? Other than Winlink threatening to close up shop if that FCC amendment passes?
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Old 11-04-2019, 18:41   #89
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Re: pactor banned from the usa?

Good evening folks. I'm one of the guys that was involved in the development of ARDOP, and have been using Winlink on land off and on for a while. What the rulemaking proposal boils down to is that some folks are too lazy to write the decoder themselves, using already publicly available source code, and want the Winlink Development Team to do it for them.
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Old 11-04-2019, 19:33   #90
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Re: pactor banned from the usa?

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Good evening folks. I'm one of the guys that was involved in the development of ARDOP, and have been using Winlink on land off and on for a while. What the rulemaking proposal boils down to is that some folks are too lazy to write the decoder themselves, using already publicly available source code, and want the Winlink Development Team to do it for them.
Now we get to the heart of it.......
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