Friday, March 05, 2010

Catching up with the news: ROS and The RSGB Manager's Blog

A bit of a catch up post today. I've been a bit preoccupied this week. We had to say goodbye to one of our beloved cats, Bitzy, on Tuesday. She was 16 and was suffering from liver disease. Any of you who are pet owners will know how distressing such an event is. But things move on and we have lots of happy memories.

ROS If you've been around any of the blogs over the last week or two, you'll see there's been mention of a new digi-mode called 'ROS'. Initially, things looked very exciting and it looked very effective at weak signal work. Lots of people jumped on the bandwagon and started using the mode, causing quite some interference to other band users and the NCDXF beacon chain on 14.100.

In North America, the FCC got involved and ruled that as the mode was 'spread spectrum' (its bandwidth is 2.2khz) then it could not be used on bands under 222MHz in the USA. Somewhere round about here, the developer, clearly disappointed, took things rather personally and took the peculiar approach of saying that anyone who mentioned the FCC's ruling would be banned from using the mode! Poor Julian, G4ILO who mentioned this on his blog got the short end of all this and was banned and subjected to correspondence which at the very least, should never have been posted on public forums.

Rather bizarrely, the 'don't use ROS below 222MHz in the US ruling' was then apparently retracted by the FCC, but as of yesterday, the retraction was retracted and the current advice from the FCC is that 'ROS' should not be used in the US on bands below 222MHz. The ARRL are now involved and let's hope that a considered and consistent outcome will appear in due course.

Hardly an episode that reflects well on amateur radio:

- the initial upsurge in usage, paid little heed to the needs of other band users in all the excitement.

- disappointing that a talented software writer should feel it appropriate to 'ban' amateurs from using his software for just writing about the issues around the use of the mode. Hardly in the spirit of amateur radio, or even in the context of human rights, free speech.

- the apparent 'it's not ok, it's ok, no it's not' approach from the FCC did little to diffuse the situation. It's understood that FCC staff were trying to do their honest best in a difficult situation, but sadly the lack of co-ordination really didn't help.

Here in the UK, we're able to use the mode legally, but owing to the furore that has grown up around 'ROS' - many people have decided to stay away. A shame, all round.

The RSGB Manager's blog The RSGB have often been criticised, sometimes rightly, sometimes not, for being less than transparent in their work. Very often, I suspect that this has been unjustified. Nevertheless, when something comes along to make communication easier and more open, it is to be applauded.

I was delighted to notice that Peter Kirby, G0TWW (who incidentally, is not related to me, despite our common surname) - General Manager of RSGB has started a blog

It is interesting and well written. I don't expect to agree with Peter in everything he writes. That doesn't matter - but it's great to see Peter putting his thoughts out there.

Currently, it is not possible to leave comments on Peter's blog. I hope this facility will be added in due course - allowing real discussion to take place.

Who knows, if the blog is a success, as I'm sure it will be, perhaps we'll see RSGB HQ on Twitter?


g4ilo said...

Hi Tim. Thanks for the heads-up on Peter Kirby's blog. I was going to start following it, but what I ended up with was the RSGB newsfeed. So if anyone knows the URL for the blog feed, perhaps they could let me know.

Peter, M3PHP said...

I agree nice to see the RSGB being more transparent with the "Blog" idea but it is lacking some of the major features like comments and an RSS feed :)

Hopefully these will be addressed in time and more members of staff will blog regarding the RSGB and its day to day business.. as for Twitter I'm not so sure that will happen ;)


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