18 October 2006

regarding the future of chu

A thread on rec.radio.shortwave alerted me to the fact that CHU, Canada's time station operating on 3330 / 7335 / 14670 khz, may undergo changes or discontinue operation as of 01 April 2007. I got an email address for inquiries, and I will publish the response verbatim:

About the New Messages on CHU – October, 2006

The added messages on CHU are:
“On April 1, 2007, CHU needs to stop operating, change frequencies, or re-licence. Contact radio.chu@nrc.gc.ca or mail CHU Canada K1A 0R6,” and
« En avril 2007, CHU doit soit cesser ses opérations, soit changer de fréquence, soit renouveler sa licence. Contactez radio@chu.cnrc.gc.ca ou écrivez à CHU Canada, Conseil national de recherches, K1A 0R6. »

This outreach is to collect information from users of CHU to help shape recommendations concerning what should be done concerning changes to CHU that will have to be in place by April 2007.

In April 2007 the licence on 7.335 MHz will have to be modified to reflect changes on the status of the band allocation by the International Telecommunications Union. This frequency has been changed from “fixed service” to “broadcast”. (The ITU decision does not affect the frequencies 3.33 MHz and 14.67 MHz.) Some alternatives are: Re-licencing just might be possible, calling the 7.335 MHz a “broadcast”. It is also possible to stop using that frequency (the most useful of the three we use). Stopping one signal is the easiest solution but could create problems for some clients who are counting on this particular signal. Change the frequency from 7.335 MHz to a nearby fixed-service frequency. It would need some investment from our part in new hardware and in manpower. It could also create problems for clients, and likely not all radios will be able to tune to the new frequency.

To be seriously considered, any of the above alternatives will need to have a zero-based budgeting justification prepared, comparing it against the least expensive alternative of closing CHU entirely. CHU is entering a phase where major investment in new transmitters will be required if it is to be kept operating. In the absence of input from the CHU user community, concerning the importance of CHU’s contribution in the modern world, this last option is an inescapable recommendation.

The CHU code is also used as a radio clock, which can be used as a reference clock for an NTP time server. Software drivers have been written that can obtain the date and time from the code and that tune a digitally tuned radio to one of our 3 frequencies, to get the best signal. Users of this service generally don’t listen to the audio broadcast. So we cannot gauge the usage by sending this announcement.

Please, if you know of anyone using CHU but not aware of the possible changes to its frequency usage, let them know and ask them to contact us. Also if you have an important use for CHU signals, please tell us how you use our signals.

Be assured that we will try our best to maintain the CHU service as it is, keeping the three frequencies as they are.

Thank you for your support.

Raymond Pelletier
Frequency and Time
Institute for National Measurement Standards
National Research Council Canada
M-36, room 1026
1200 Montreal Road
Ottawa, Canada K1A 0R6
Tel: (613) 993-3430
Fax: (613) 952-1394
Government of Canada

1 comment:

Chuck E said...

I've left my plea for CHU to remain on the air at the email address provided. I can't imagine the shortwave dial devoid of CHU's dependable signals. For years I've used CHU for accurate time, and for checking propagation and testing receivers.

I think the solution is to classify CHU's transmissions as "broadcasting", since this is exactly what they do, broadcast accurate time. It is a mistake to shut down operations on shortwave, as so many stations have done. Shortwave is to me vital, educational and entertaining.

I hope everyone will send CHU their ideas and support.