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France Says D-Star Ham Radio Mode Is Illegal 282

Posted by timothy
from the centralized-decision-making dept.
gyrogeerloose writes "Citing 'national security concerns,' the French Autorité de Régulation des Communications Électroniques et des Postes (ARCEP, France's equivalent of the US's FCC) has ruled that D-Star, an amateur radio digital signal mode used world-wide, is illegal because it could allow operators to connect to the Internet.The ARCEP also cites alleged concerns regarding cryptography and national security as well as the use of a proprietary codec. While it's true that the D-Star codec is proprietary, its owner has openly licensed it (for a fee, of course) to any manufacturer who wants to build it into their equipment. Any licensed amateur radio operator who lives within the EU can sign an online petition protesting this decision."
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France Says D-Star Ham Radio Mode Is Illegal

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  • by dtmos (447842) * on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @03:17PM (#32748908)

    So how does Winlink 2000 [winlink.org], a digital protocol (using a patented codec, too, I think) that supplies email service over the amateur shortwave bands, escape notice? It's a lot harder to communicate a significant distance at the VHF and UHF ranges typically used by D-Star than the HF bands used by Winlink systems.

    The ways of bureaucracies are often mysterious.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @03:18PM (#32748922)

    What is the /real/ reason for this law, please, French hams?

  • Wait, What? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @03:18PM (#32748928) Journal

    "illegal because it could allow operators to connect to the Internet."

    Surfing the web is a crime in France?

    • Re:Wait, What? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @03:23PM (#32749000)

      As a ham in the U.S., I can tell you that here, there is a severe restriction on communication in that no commercial messages may be relayed. It took years for the FCC to grant an exemption to allow hams to autopatch to order pizza.

      As far as I know, there's no exemption for ads (adsense or otherwise), which would severely restrict what traffic you could have over the session. IRC MOTDs that advertise the hosting service? AdSense web ads? Nope, nope.

      • Re:Wait, What? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by LWATCDR (28044) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @03:30PM (#32749090) Homepage Journal

        I didn't think of those. I just thought of the issue of SSL across the radio.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Migraineman (632203)
          You could uuencode [wikipedia.org] your entire SSL session and use Morse as the physical layer. If the concern is encryption, all forms of radio communication should be illegal.

          Tin cans and wet string should be prohibited too, because you could send "secret messages" to your pal on the other side of your yard.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Doctor Memory (6336)

            I think SSL violates the "no ciphers" prohibition of Part 97.113[0].

            [0] "Part 97" refers to CFR (US Code of Federal Regulations) Title 47, which governs telecommunications. Part 97 covers the Amateur Radio Service.

      • Re:Wait, What? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by dtmos (447842) * on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @03:35PM (#32749158)

        Be thankful it is how it is. If commercial interests got access to the amateur bands, they'd push individual "amateurs" out. Just imagine if the bands were crowded with business traffic, with powerful stations paid for by commercial interests. The regular Joe would never be able to get through the din.

        Historically, that's the reason the word "amateur" is in "amateur radio" -- to differentiate the service from "commercial radio", which is nearly everything else.

        • Re:Wait, What? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by vlm (69642) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @04:03PM (#32749470)

          Be thankful it is how it is. If commercial interests got access to the amateur bands, they'd push individual "amateurs" out. Just imagine if the bands were crowded with business traffic, with powerful stations paid for by commercial interests. The regular Joe would never be able to get through the din.

          Yeah, like winlink on 20M HF (ducks from the flames while running). Seriously funny how well your description matches winlink, which in my opinion spends most (all?) of its time dangerously close to breaking the law.

          Also your quotes apply to the semi-professional affiliated emcomm types pretty well, too. Pretty much any emcomm involving "memorandum of understanding" and florescent orange safety vests.

          Which is probably why those two groups are so ... strongly debated, in some circles. But dstar is not debated so much. Odd.

        • Come on now. We all know Joe is a plumber, not a HAM radio operator. ;)
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by LWATCDR (28044)

      I think that is a mistake.
      I believe the big problem is that they believe the proprietary codec counts as encryption.
      HAM radio operators are not allowed to encrypt their data The reference may be to using it to to connect to the web using SSL which would also be illegal over an Armature radio link because it is encrypted.
      What I wonder is how much bandwidth is this using and what else is involved. There is more than just a codec but also how the bits are transmitted across the link. Just from the Amateur rad

    • Re:Wait, What? (Score:5, Informative)

      by mikael (484) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @03:29PM (#32749084)

      France takes their mobile phones communications very seriously - you have to provide a photocopy of your ID just to get a Mobicarte (Pay-As-You-Go) SIM card. Even then it will be deactivated if you don't use it after three months.

      I get the impression they really want to know the identity of anyone who surfs the web.

      • France takes their mobile phones communications very seriously - you have to provide a photocopy of your ID just to get a Mobicarte (Pay-As-You-Go) SIM card. Even then it will be deactivated if you don't use it after three months.

        I get the impression they really want to know the identity of anyone who surfs the web.

        Isn't that the case everywhere? I only have experience in 3 countries (though, on 3 different continents) and they all wanted detailed information (passport/drivers licence/credit card). From what I've seen, getting an "anonymous phone" is basically impossible in every country I've ever lived in. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if an "anonymous phone" was illegal in most parts of the world.

        As much as I enjoy ridiculing The French, I think in this case they are just following the status quo. I'm strong

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Peach Rings (1782482)

          You can buy a phone and pre-paid minutes in the US for cash.

          • by xaxa (988988)

            Same in the UK.

            You can also buy a stolen phone very easily. Any requirement to register pay-as-you-go phones would probably just increase phone theft, slightly. (People already steal cars -- or just the plates -- to commit crimes.)

          • You can buy a phone and pre-paid minutes in the US for cash.

            Without any ID whatsoever? When I've tried to do almost anything in the U.S., they've wanted ID, proof of "whatever" and have nearly insinuated at a rectal exam.

            Yes, I exaggerate but, I don't even think I'm in the realm of Tinfoil Hat Paranoia here.

            • Re:Wait, What? (Score:4, Informative)

              by vlm (69642) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @04:26PM (#32749704)

              You can buy a phone and pre-paid minutes in the US for cash.

              Without any ID whatsoever?

              Yes. Walk right into walmart / walgreens / target, pick up a prepaid phone, and a prepaid balance card, pay cash, walk out.

              I have a prepaid phone, I could do this if I cared to. I use a CC online to "top up" but I am well aware of the marketplace and whats available.

              Previous attempts to get rid of this have been blocked by our extremely large illegal alien community as being discriminatory against them. You see, if someone's here illegally either they won't be able to get a contract phone due to complete lack of records, or they'll steal someone elses credit info to get one.

              • to say nothing of the millions of dollars that the prepaid cellphone providers get from the use of these phones for illegal purposes, such as drug trafficking networks.

                Hard to wiretap something that you only use for a week or two, and then throw in the gutter.

          • by GraZZ (9716)

            Ditto Canada.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by kangsterizer (1698322)

        France is probably the most "big brother like" european country. the government is also quite corrupt.

        Actually you can find most stuff in english here: http://www.laquadrature.net/en [laquadrature.net]
        there's also not directly france related stuf there.

    • Re:Wait, What? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Junior Samples (550792) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @03:33PM (#32749106)

      And why is connecting amateur radio equipment to the internet illegal?

      Amateur radio operators have been using the internet as a transport and control link for many years. An example of this is Echolink: http://www.echolink.org/ [echolink.org]

      Amateur radio connectivity to the internet is not illegal in most if not all of the remaining world. I don't know why France would be any different.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Skuld-Chan (302449)

        Its not - there is a real risk that a dstar to wifi gateway (which setting up is trivial) being used by a non ham would be however - even here in the states.

        I wouldn't say its a reason to ban the protocol though as it can be used for a great number of things other than internet stuff.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      If it is like the US, ham radio is not supposed to supplant other services. For instance, last time I checked (several years ago, so I don't know if this changed) you could not do broadcasts over ham radio. That's for regular radio services. Ham was for person to person communication. I could see prohibiting connecting to the internet to fall under that kind of policy.

      • Re:Wait, What? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Andy Dodd (701) <atd7@@@cornell...edu> on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @03:57PM (#32749412) Homepage

        Things forbidden over ham radio in the US:
        1) Encryption (Spread spectrum is a bit of a grey area here, some consider it "encryption", also some radio systems use scrambling codes for "whitening" data patterns. In general, "whitening" scramblers were OK as long as they were fully documented, spread spectrum is a pain in the !*@#)!*$#@! regulation-wise)
        2) Broadcast is forbidden with a few exceptions. (Repeater IDs, for example. APRS is also kosher. Broadcasting anything like a "radio show" is not. In the digital age it's a bit grey, but in general sustained transmissions are not kosher, but brief bursts (IDing, position reports) are OK.
        3) Commercial usage is forbidden. It used to be that if there was ANYTHING commercial about a transmission it was illegal, however a decade or two ago the US changed rules so that it was OK as long as none of the radio operators involved were benefiting financially. The main effect of this difference is that it used to be illegal to order pizza through an autopatcher (Allows a ham to make phone calls from their radio via a gateway, usually located at a repeater site), now it is legal. I think it was primarily done so that hams supporting emergency/even communications could order food for emergency/volunteer event workers. In France they may still use the old-style rules.

        • Encryption... (Score:3, Interesting)

          by msauve (701917)
          Encryption, per se, is not disallowed. What is prohibited is "messages encoded for the purpose of obscuring their meaning." A group of hams setting up a high powered 802.11 AP (which would be illegal for a non-ham to access) might use encryption, not for the purpose of obscuring meaning (it's not being done to hide anything from anyone), but simply for the purpose of restricting access to licensed hams. Likewise, a control link might be encrypted to disallow unauthorized control, not to hide the control ope
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Skuld-Chan (302449)

          Ordering a pizza has always been legal to do over the radio - many people misinterpret the rule here. If the ham radio operator himself has a fiduciary interest in operating the radio (for example - dispatching pizza delivery people for his/her own company) that is a no no - however if there is no fiduciary interest (like a 3rd party person on the phone you have no relationship to) - nothing wrong with that since the ham making the phone call isn't making any money by operating his or her radio. Same rules

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by stevew (4845)

            Ack - wrong! Would you like to try again?

            I was an official observer (read ARRL band cop with no teeth) back in the late 80's/early 90's. 97.113 absolutely prohibited ANY type of business use back then. The rules were changed in the early 90's to allow this type of exception (along with ham related swap-nets) as an example.

            So there was a time when it wasn't legal. It is now.

      • by Compholio (770966)

        I could see prohibiting connecting to the internet to fall under that kind of policy.

        Last I heard when US ham radio operators provide internet connections they get praised by the press [msn.com].

    • Re:Wait, What? (Score:4, Informative)

      by vlm (69642) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @03:38PM (#32749182)

      I have some dstar gear. Note that there isn't "A" dstar mode. Its more of a family of related modulations and operations, kind of like ISDN was. I'd be interested in knowing which specific modes and types of operation are banned. Or perhaps they all are, under different rules/interpretations.

      There's two types of "connect to internet" that dstar gear can do.

      1) The numerous VHF/UHF radio repeaters Usually (but not always) are set up connected to the internet to carry voice. There are several competitors that do almost exactly the same thing. Echolink, IRLP, Yaesu's WIREs thing, probably others. If France has banned Echolink, IRLP, etc, then this is the reason. I have an IC-92AD and a IC-800.

      2) There is ONE radio ID-1 operating on the 1296 MHz band that, in addition to doing voice, can additionally do a medium speed/medium range IP network. Again, usually connected to the internet at the repeater side, although certainly not always.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by RandomJoe (814420)

        Well, you *could* also pass data while in the "digital voice" mode, even alongside a voice conversation. Just at an abysmally slow data rate (~960 bps). So in theory you could "access the net" even with a VHF/UHF rig if the other end was set up appropriately.

        I did this once, set up a PPP link between two ID-800s attached to Linux machines. Just for giggles - the data rate is so horribly slow you almost have time to think between keypresses! :)

        Normally the data "side channel" is only used for position rep

    • Re:Wait, What? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by HungryHobo (1314109) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @03:38PM (#32749188)

      I wonder if they're going to ban carrier pidgeons as well since they also allow connections to the net.
      http://www.blug.linux.no/rfc1149/ [linux.no]

      They seem to be claiming that it would allow somone to set up an unofficial ISP.

      By that kind of logic just about anything at all could be used to connect to the internet.

      If I was a big electronics geek I could theoretically set up a pair of toy laser pointers + some light sensors to allow me to relay internet traffic by line of sight (with crappy bandwidth) but that wouldn't be that much more complex than what they seem to be talking about.

      Hell you could set up a piece of string with some motors and sensors to relay ip data IPOP (IP Over Pullies)

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by galaad2 (847861)

        If I was a big electronics geek I could theoretically set up a pair of toy laser pointers + some light sensors to allow me to relay internet traffic by line of sight (with crappy bandwidth) but that wouldn't be that much more complex than what they seem to be talking about.

        not exactly toy laser pointers, but it has already been done and it works reasonably well: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RONJA [wikipedia.org]

  • Screw you ARCEP.
  • by sunking2 (521698) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @03:21PM (#32748974)
    Tell them it is being used to fix their football program.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by MightyYar (622222)

      Yeah, to my knowledge they have never made it to a Super Bowl.

      • by ArsonSmith (13997)

        They have a bowling team?

        • by H0p313ss (811249)

          They have a bowling team?

          Their bowling team is playing in the world cup? That would explain the results.

  • D-Star sucks (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MaggieL (10193) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @03:24PM (#32749006)

    I've got nothing good to say about D-Star until the voice CODEC is free-to-use. That's not amateur radio. As it stand now, D-STAR simply means "made by ICOM"...even the Kenwood-badged D-STAR radios are in fact manufactured by ICOM.

    de K3XS

    • by Paul Rose (771894)

      Agreed.

      D-Star concept is fine, but using a patent encumbered codec definitely goes against the spirit of ham radio.

      Home brew has always been one of the foundations of ham radio, and it should be possible (and legal) to homebrew a decoder for any modulation scheme (protocol) approved for ham radio use (at least in principle, even if it is difficult or rarely done in practice).

      K0EET

       

      • by Paul Rose (771894)
        That said, I don't think France dislikes D-Star for the same reason as me (and GP).
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by vlm (69642)

        D-Star concept is fine, but using a patent encumbered codec definitely goes against the spirit of ham radio.

        SSB US patent 1449382

        Armstrongs Superregen RX patent 1342885

        I was never totally clear if Armstrong patented the concept of FM.

        Just saying that the "spirit of ham radio" certainly has never excluded patented modes or gear in the past.

        • by Paul Rose (771894)

          Just saying that the "spirit of ham radio" certainly has never excluded patented modes or gear in the past.

          Very yrue, I should worded my objection more clearly.
          In the past I could homebrew an FM exciter and demodulator, perhaps even using the patent as my schematic. It would even be legal if I didn't sell my radio. I could even publish an article about it in QST and be in the clear.
          Now, because of DMCA I can get in trouble just for building my own D-Star, and certainly for publishing my version of the codec (even for free).

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by bws111 (1216812)

            Do you have a reference for that?

            35 U.S.C. 271 Infringement of patent.
            (a)Except as otherwise provided in this title, whoever without authority makes, uses, offers to sell, or sells any patented invention, within the United States, or imports into the United States any patented invention during the term of the patent therefor, infringes the patent.

            There is no requirement to sell or otherwise have a commercial interest.

      • Home brew has always been one of the foundations of ham radio, and it should be possible (and legal) to homebrew a decoder for any modulation scheme (protocol) approved for ham radio use (at least in principle, even if it is difficult or rarely done in practice).

        I agree and don't own any D-Star equipment myself although, to be honest, that is due at least in part to the fact that the license fee adds quite a lot to the price of a radio. I've recently heard rumors stirring about a free and open alternative to D-Star in the early stages of development; while I wouldn't expect it to have any immediate impact, it could prove interesting over the long run.

        In the mean time, I'll stick with PSK31 and my current favorite digital mode, ALE-400. Look for me on 20m, 14.074 MH

  • Why now? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by red_dragon (1761) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @03:27PM (#32749040) Homepage

    Did they just now figure out that IP, and thus the Internet, can be routed over ham radio? Have they never heard of AMPRnet [ampr.org]? How about AX.25 [wikipedia.org]? I was able to get (very very slow) Internet access back in 1997 with a KPC-3, an old Yaesu HT, and the Linux AX.25 stack.

    Methinks some PHB at France Telecom just got wind of it and is throwing a hissy fit.

    • Re:Why now? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Eric Green (627) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @05:01PM (#32750134) Homepage
      I am on a D-STAR discussion list. Apparently the issue is that D-STAR has not previously been an allowed digital mode in France, and there is an old time neanderthal HF ham radio guy in their radio regulatory department (the type of guy who believes ham radio died the moment there was no longer a requirement to build your own HF morse code transceiver in order to get a ham license) who does not believe that *any* digital modes should be allowed who is now in a position to block the adoption of new digital modes. Check out this list of a large number of digital modes that are banned in France [draf.asso.fr] (note that this page is in French, but if you are American you should be able to read the huge number of disallowed modes, and the much smaller number of allowed modes at the end). In any event, the whole "can be routed over the Internet" thingy is a base canard being used by this old-school guy to disallow digital modes, rather than the real reason, so ... (shrug).
  • by ImNotAtWork (1375933) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @03:35PM (#32749150)
    Wait 'til they find about IP over pigeon. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IP_over_Avian_Carriers [wikipedia.org] .

    Honey get out the Gordon Ramsay recipes for pigeons shot out of the sky for internet connection violations.
  • by gearloos (816828) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @03:39PM (#32749192)
    "connect to the internet"? jeeze hey France, ever hear of a Rose node or KISS? or any of the hundreds of available(since about 1994) packet radio bbs systems that connect and use the internet at will? How about xxx.ampr.org? For the non hams, that stands for AMateur Packet Radio and when used in AMPRNet it is AMateur Packet Radio Network. Thats ok France, I've been around for years and have well over 200 countries on my list of contacts, I can do without you. Just don't get in the way of my signals with your plea for help next time your in a jam....pun intended.
    • Just don't get in the way of my signals with your plea for help next time your in a jam....pun intended.

      White Flag over IP?

  • by laing (303349) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @03:41PM (#32749220)
    AMPRnet has been around for 20 years. There are hundreds (maybe thousands now?) of TCP/IP nodes worldwide that provide a gateway between AMPRnet (44.0.0.0/24) and the Internet. The two nearest to me are at Cal Tech and UCSD. The TRW ARC used to have one too. I'm not sure if it is still operating.

    The French have basically outlawed something because of interoperability. The D-Star stuff can be networked. They could have simply said "Don't connect it to the Internet" instead of making it illegal to use.

  • Some of us licensed hams think that allowing a proprietary protocol/codec on the amateur bands is a crock of shit. Where's the petition to praise the decision? (I'm licensed, but I'm not in the EU.)

    In the US, I would argue that using D-Star on amateur radio is already illegal, under Title 47 part 97(a)(4). Since the codec is proprietary, and documentation on the encoded format is not available, the use of the code is clearly an attempt to obscure the meaning of the communication from anyone that doesn't buy D-Star equipment that contains the proprietary codec.

    Eric Smith
    N2ES

    • Sorry, that's Part 97.113(a)(4).
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by glebovitz (202712)

        97.113 Prohibited transmissions. (a) No amateur station shall transmit: (4) Music using a phone emission except as specifically provided elsewhere in this section; communications intended to facilitate a criminal act; messages encoded for the purpose of obscuring their meaning, except as otherwise provided herein; obscene or indecent words or language; or false or deceptive messages, signals or identification."

        I don't see how this applies to DSTAR. There is nothing implied or explicit in the language above,

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by yyxx (1812612)

          There is nothing implied or explicit in the language above, about encoding communications using proprietary or patented protocols.The language focuses on intent "purpose of obscuring". I interpret this as the difference between compressing and encrypting.

          Arguably, the intent is to obscure the data in such a way that you can only receive it using another proprietary device.

          If I use G729 to compress voice transmission, it doesn't mean my intent is to obfuscate, but merely improve the efficiency of my communic

    • I am an outside observer, but I think you have a pretty good point there. It's arguably "messages in codes or ciphers intended to obscure the meaning thereof,". It's a cipher of sorts, the only argument is whether or not it is intended to obscure the meaning. It could be argued that there is no intent to obscure the meaning, only that its a coincidental side effect.

              Brett

    • by vlm (69642)

      Using PSK-31 is an attempt to obscure the meaning of the communication from anyone that doesn't buy a computer sound card interface?

      Its going to be an uphill battle, like trying to use 97.113(f) as a stick to get rid of packet radio digipeaters/nodes.

  • Acronyms (Score:5, Funny)

    by Silentknyght (1042778) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @03:51PM (#32749336)

    ...the French Autorité de Régulation des Communications Électroniques et des Postes...

    They had to add in the regular mail, you see, else the acronym could have been "FARCE"...

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Tim C (15259)

      I know you're aiming for funny, but they don't put the word French at the start, so it would be ARCE - which (for us Brits at least) is still potentially mildly amusing.

  • We can't allow you to have free speech, because free speech helps terrorists and pedophiles!
  • by xquercus (801916) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @03:52PM (#32749346)
    Using PACTOR III it is possible to (1) connect to the Internet. It is (2) unencrypted and not only (3) proprietary -- it's sole source is SCS. Applying the same logic which prohibits the use of D-Star, PAC III stations should be prohibited too.
  • - They where the first to introduce "3-strikes-and-out" Internet connection. Meaning if you download something from piratebay, 3 times - then you lose your internet connection by law.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8436745.stm [bbc.co.uk]

    - They where imposing restrictions on content on personal homepages
    http://www.cdt.org/pr_statement/french-court-imposes-speech-restrictions-beyond-its-borders-0 [cdt.org]
    (and much more)

    - They always stand in way of internet innovation, if something isn't checked with them, it's illegal:
    http://www.inf [informationweek.com]

  • Some explanation (Score:4, Informative)

    by godrik (1287354) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @04:24PM (#32749688)

    French here giving some explanation (all obtained from the document sent by ARCEP. I have no special knowledge on the subject)

    In france, you need an authorization from ARCEP to broadcast radio amateur signals.
    The article does not says that D-Star is illegal, just that they are not authorizing it on radio amateur.
    The reason why they are not authorizing it is that radio amateur can not be connected to any other communication network (By law), except for some temporary pedagical explanation.

    In fact radio amateur are design to learn and study about radio signals. Therefore communication over a radio amateur is not permitted.

    The bottom line is that this prohibition is only radio amateur signals. If you are licensed, you are not amateur an can do it. If it is not on radio amateur frequencies (such as IP-over-pidgeon or IP-over-yelling as suggested by other slashdotters) then this decision does not apply.

  • It never occurred to me before: Digital PORN over shortwave! Of course we'll have to pass "Think Of The Children" laws now!
  • good! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by yyxx (1812612) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @04:45PM (#32749954)

    Amateur radio should only use open standards, codecs, and protocols; anything else should not be allowed on the air and people using anything else should lose their license.

    There really is no reason to use anything proprietary anyway: the necessary technologies and protocols have been known for a while.

  • French Fag POV (Score:4, Informative)

    by Beretta Vexe (535187) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @04:59PM (#32750102)

    1. Internet, the ARCEP warn the HAM operator about the legislation. If you want to run a public telecommunication service you must conform to the pretty heavy legislation about it and it nearly impossible in the HAM environment. Plus HAM frequency aren't supposed to be connect to an open network for non HAM operator use.

    2. Cryptografic & National Security, In fact most french HAM operator i know are pretty free software enthusiast and most of them are again proprietary codec and close standard. We have a large number of guys developing mixed HAM/VOIP service with ASTERISK or other kind of crazy stuff. The ARCEP simply said that in the current state of the D-Star standard, It not possible to the ARCEP and other HAM operator to monitor what's going on the frequency.

    3. Patents, The standard is cover by many patent and that could be a problem for equal access and monitoring of the frequencies. In short, the ARCEP is again brand specific frequencies and standards for the HAM.

    If you can read the ARCEP response letter, the situation is pretty simple. A guy from the DR@F Digital HAM group asked for a authorization for experimental use of the D-Star frequences bands. The ARCEP gave the authorization for 6 months, they asked for up to 10 members authorization they get it and 6 more months. Then they ask for a France wide general authorization for all registered HAM operator. Then the ARCEP politely explain that clearly out of the experimentation range and that clearly another story. For the ARCEP amateur radio group are suppose to be amateur and can't start negotiation for a national wide deployment in place of the manufacturer or consortium behind the standard or the equipment.
    D-Star equipment manufacturer need to get in contact with the ARCEP to clarify some issue, like the patent and the possibility of interconnection with an open network ( internet, phone, etc. ). HAM frequence are suppose to be used only by and for registered HAM operator. You couldn't start your own nation wide pager network using HAM frequency.

    This seem pretty reasonable to me.

  • by molo (94384) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @05:04PM (#32750168) Journal

    Bruce Perens, K6BP, proposed replacing [codec2.org] the proprietary AMBE codec with a new open codec. David Rowe, VK5DGR, has strted a project to replace the codec [rowetel.com], but needs support in order to continue.

    Anyone willing to help out or donate?

    -molo

  • But why bother ? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by speedlaw (878924) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @08:40PM (#32751946) Homepage
    As a ham op, I question any need for digital modulation on the FM repeater bands. Public Safety needs digital because of congestion, and second for security. Hams are not exactly overrunning VHF/UHF bands, and security is a non issue for hams. Digital modes on HF make more sense, as they can work with very weak signal strengths, and they are usually open source. The same reasons don't work with digital VHF, most of which is point to point communications with repeaters mounted on high. I see no need to buy any digital equipment for VHF use. FM works just fine for typical repeater use.
  • by kd5sfk (1235808) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @08:44PM (#32751976)
    Good for the French! D-star is just another way to exclude everyone who doesn't want to plop down a kilobuck for their radio...much like "private" repeater organizations in the states. Amateur radio should be free and open to everyone, and D-star clearly doesn't fall into this category! 73, KD5SFK
  • Are you kidding? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by scdeimos (632778) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @08:55PM (#32752050)

    [ACERP] has ruled that D-Star, a amateur radio digital signal mode used world-wide, is illegal because it could allow operators to connect to the Internet.

    They've obviously never heard of Packet Radio then, which has been around much longer and enabled digital data packets to be transmitted over any radio link. Hell, it's pretty much how Taxi booking systems and Police response systems work.

  • by bkeahl (1688280) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @09:39PM (#32752318)
    As an amateur radio operator I've questioned how D-Star could be legal. In a nutshell, D-Star implements a method of encoding radio communications in a way that can also be interpreted as encrypted (ie WEP/wifi on steroids). Since the FCC and the ITU (international telecommunications union) dictate that "no encryption or other privacy techniques may be used".

    Since there is a proprietary chip made by a single manufacturer and a fee must be paid for the use then this would seem to violate the above rule. Every other digital and analog mode of communication is defined to the extent that an amateur radio operator could construct hardware to send, receive, encode, and decode the information ... except D-Star.

    However, the French couldn't see the big oak in front of them, they had to decide that their big brother authority is threatened.

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