Editorial: CB Radio-A [Preventable] Wireless Wasteland 896 Words
Word Count: 896
Feedback: I hope you may have learned something.
Background Info: This began earlier this evening as a Facebook rant describing a negative experience I had on CB radio.
Author's Comments: I hope you now know of alternative forms of communications from internet and telephone be it wireless or landline. I hope you also realize of the poor enforcement of laws that already exist.
All of the wireless communications that have government regulations are for the most part are properly enforced-except ONE. And that is Citizen's Band Radio. The government hardly ever enforces the rules that are required on the books and it is a shame. Many (but not all) users of the service deliberately interfere with each other and use illegal amounts of power. Also many people just say random repetitive foolishness over the radio. There's a complete lack of courtesy, sensibility and refinement. It wouldn't really be that hard to enforce the rules that forbid such behaviors. SO, why is there no enforcement? CB could be a very good thing for the people especially in emergencies, but also an alternative to Internet social media. But there is no enforcement. By the way this rant comes in the wake of my wife and I testing out some portable units but people with illegal amounts of RF power were drowning us out.
I will give some examples on how the other communications mediums available are decently and efficiently enforced.
Marine VHF radio is strictly and [for the most part] successfully regulated and it is just as easy as CB (sometimes easier) for anyone to purchase equipment that operates on its frequencies.
FRS (Family Radio Service) is basically a UHF version of CB, but because of the low power output and limited [factual and real not advertised] range on these radios, so it's harder to deliberately cause widespread interference. The government purposely put these restrictions on the design on the equipment. I am willing to bet that this was put into place because of the anarchy-like atmosphere that doomed 27 MHz CB.
Commercial, Ecclesiastical and Philanthropic broadcast (terrestrial, over the air) radio and television are heavily regulated by the government over the content of their material, but also the technical aspects of making sure broadcasters don't interfere (be it deliberately or accidentally) with each other.
Business Band radio (wide area at least) is carefully regulated that their equipment doesn't interfere with anyone and that no outsider hacks their repeaters. However with Itinerant and other simplex on site Business Band radios, interference happens from time to time, but it is only slightly worse than when it happens on FRS.
VHF Airband Radio is EXTREMELY regulated and EXTREMELY enforced. I've been listening to aircraft communications on and off since 2003 and I have never once heard an outsider talking on the reserved frequencies. I've never heard any chit chat type conversations amongst aviators or with the controllers and the ground crews, just strictly business. Surprisingly though (and especially because of online shopping) a VHF Airband transceiver is fairly easy for anyone to purchase, it just costs a much prettier penny than your average CB, Business Band, FRS or Marine VHF radio.
There is MURS (Multi Use Radio Service.) This is a VHF version of CB created in November of 2000 from five recycled business band frequencies. It also has half the [legal] power limit of 27 MHz CB. 2 watts effective radiated power to be exact. MURS requires no license or fee of any kind. There are many different modulation schemes to choose from and play with which means there is plenty of potential, especially if one doesn't feel like getting a ham license. Unfortunately type accepted equipment is required and there aren't many type accepted radios to choose from. Also it is not widely known of and one has to do an extensive and informed online search in order to get the right radio. I never really understood why MURS transceivers aren't sold at Radio Shack or Best Buy. I detect a HUGE shortcoming and discrepancy on all parties involved with decision making on the manufacturing and retail availability of equipment used in this potentially wonderful service.
Finally, there is Amateur AKA Ham Radio. This service was meant for people who enjoy experimenting with wireless communications and also proves itself indispensable in times of disaster. There are frequency bands for this service in all parts of the radio spectrum and a plethora and modulation schemes to try and play with. However to enjoy this service, one must have competence in electronics and operating procedure and a sensible degree of ethics (at least pertaining to the use of his/her communications behavior.) I myself have been a licensed (Technician Class) Amateur Radio operator for a little over 10 years, but I don't like to make that fact well known. I've been listening to it on my scanner since October of 2002 and any time someone abused his/her privileges, was unethical in any way pertaining to communications on the said service or if an outsider had hacked the frequency, the problem was dealt with quickly and efficiently. To begin with it was rare that something like this had happened. However, one would think it would be more common for someone who is unauthorized on a ham radio frequency to be using it or causing interference, but it was rare. And guess what? Ham radio equipment can be purchased just as easily as CB, Marine VHF radio, FRS, or Airband.
So, why are all of these other radio services easily enforced, but 27 MHz CB radio is a wireless wasteland. I've have proven that it should be too hard to enforce the rules, so why are these rules not being enforced? Questions. Comments. Complaints.
"The ability to provoke emotions is a wonderful gift."