14 May 2006

outside the box

Part of the allure of shortwave radio for me is that interesting things happen outside the bounds of intentions. For example, while in North America, I hear shortwave broadcasts directed at Central America and Oceania. Last month here in San Francisco, I heard WWL, an AM station in New Orleans, Louisiana. I used to hear Voice of America broadcasts even though VOA isn't allowed to target the United States. Perhaps other hobbyists feel as I do: there's excitement in irregularity!

A recent WSJ article (sorry, no link available) discussed digital signals causing adjacent channel interference for analog AM stations. It's frustrating when a source of information or entertainment can be taken away from a listener with no repercussions for the offender. In this case, the interference does not happen within the protected broadcast area.

Listeners outside the protected broadcast area are screwed, and that's that.

This unfortunate indifference has similarities with how broadband over power lines (BPL) emerged. Utilizing power line infrastructure to deliver internet connectivity sounds like a great idea in summary. However, causing radio interference for shortwave listeners and amateur radio operators means that BPL has a hidden cost.

The FCC has regulations regarding radio interference. But articles on Radiointel and ARRL indicate that the FCC does not adequately handle all interference complaints. A business trying to make money is certain to win out over the insignificant, poorly-protected radio hobbyist.

No comments: