2 Meters Is Not Going Away, So Chill Out.

You can’t unpull the alarm.

All the things that make the internet fantastic can also be to its detriment. Looking up a callsign, for example, is as easy as tippy-tapping a few keys. None of us who were there miss the days of flipping through a three inch thick $29.99 (in 1985 dollars!) paper Callbook. At the other end of the scale, the internet is also very adept at propagating incorrect, misleading, or outright false information. Adding to the drag is that once the information is out there, it’s impossible to pull it back. In an unfortunate collision of ham radio and the internet, there is a vastly inaccurate campaign and petition going around to “save” 2 meters.

Wait, what?

As expected, the tall tale has an element of truth to it. The World Radio Conference meets every year. It’s a global effort to coordinate frequency use and allocation across the spectrum. At a recent lower level pre-conference meeting in Prague, the French delegation brought up the possibility of repurposing the 2 meter amateur band for aviation use.

2 meters

PUBLIC DOMAIN PHOTO

The idea was just that…an idea. The pre-conference came to no binding decisions because it has no authority to do so. Someone, somewhere, picked up on this proposal and interpreted it to mean “they were going to take 2 meters away”.

Pulling the trigger with a blindfold on.

This “someone” apparently did not perform any due diligence or verify the facts through a credible source. They simply released their unvetted petition on the internet and it took off from there. I personally saw it dozens of times across several online platforms. I did not sign it; I’m not even sure to whom or what the petition was intended.

I’m sure this person had the most benevolent of intentions. They felt they were starting a genuine grass-roots effort to preserve the 2 meter band. Yet, I cannot give them a pass on their astonishing lack of judgement and extreme negligence. They did not verify even the most basic of facts. They did their cause no good as it wasn’t even a legitimate cause in the first place. And the same harsh assessment goes out to all the (until now) credible blogs and forums that posted & reposted the petition without question.

Putting the fire out.

The topic became so hot so fast that the ARRL issued a statement more or less asking everyone to knock it off with the hair-on-fire hysteria. They calmly explained the 2 meter reallocation issue would not even come up for serious discussion until at least 2023, if it came up at all. There would still be a lot of hoops to jump through after that. They added that independently pursuing this issue could even hurt the cause.

The frantic internet posts have somewhat dissipated, but the petition continues to collect signatures. Obviously the ARRL’s effort to inject good sense into this mania has not spread as far as the original hot mess. On the internet, that’s how it usually goes.

Where to go from here.

Do not sign the “save 2 meters” petition, repost it on line, or promote it on the radio. If you really want to preserve 2 meters (or amateur radio as a whole), join a club, rag chew on the air, check into a net, Elmer a newcomer, or serve your community. Before spreading any information, verify it from a credible source, preferably more than one source. If it sounds far-fetched, it probably is.

If you got sucked into this vortex of madness, reconsider your thought process and think about how blindly accepting unconfirmed (and ultimately inaccurate) information can cause untold and uncontrollable problems. As radio amateurs, we are supposed to be in the communications business. This entire incident could have been avoided with some simple fact checking.

2 thoughts on “2 Meters Is Not Going Away, So Chill Out.

  1. randall krippner

    It’s amazing how quickly this turned from a last minute suggestion by the French to change part of the VHF spectrum allocation to “OMG they’re going to take away 2 meters!” Before this could even become a proposal that is presented at the next conference at least 10 countries would have to support it, and just six countries opposing it would kill it, so the chance of it ever being seriously proposed is slim. While we always need to be wary of governments and corporations trying to suck up more spectrum space, this is, so far at least, just an idea presented by the French that seems to have no real support from other countries. The last I heard Germany was the only other country that was looking at it favorably.

    I should point out that when “the big one” rolled through here three days ago, 2 meters was one of the most important methods of communications during and after the storm. All the emergency nets in every county around here were up and running, traffic on 2 meters was constant. Storm reports, tornado sightings, weather alerts, flooding alerts, down power lines, etc. were all flowing from amateur radio operators back to the National Weather Service and county emergency services offices. Afterwards hams were out doing damage assessments, welfare checks, etc.

    This was a nasty, nasty storm, BTW. We had sustained straight line winds in excess of 90 MPH (NWS reported Wrightstown just north of me had winds of 120 MPH according to their radar), 9 confirmed tornadoes, torrential rains, etc. Hundreds if not thousands of trees down, damaged buildings, etc. At one point we had up to 300,000 people without power. Even now, three days later, we still have about 20,000+ people without power. It’s frankly a miracle no one got killed.

    We knew the storm was coming, but no one had any idea it was going to be this bad. Everyone thought it was going to be just another thunderstorm.

    Reply
    1. Chris Warren Post author

      Hi again Randall, I’m glad you and your neighbors came through the storm ok; I’m also gratified to hear amateur radio played a role in keeping the situation under control. It’s situations like this that prove over and over that ham radio is a valuable public resource and not just a hobby.

      Your observations about 2 meters “going away” are exactly correct. In fact, you mentioned a lot of details that were in my original article but were edited out in the final version in the interest of keeping it simple. While it’s true that we as amateurs need to be vigilant about encroachment on our bands, it’s equally important that we go about it in a coolheaded way.

      An obscure bureaucratic body with no real authority –from France, no less– casually tossing up a suggestion does not rise to the level of an emergency. Hell, it doesn’t even rise to the level of being mildly interesting. But that did not stop some people getting hysterical and running to Facebook and Twitter and every ham radio blog in the known universe to join the fight to “save” it.

      Of everything I read on this subject (and I’ve read quite a bit), no one, and I mean no one, questioned the validity or meaning of the information. It wasn’t until the ARRL issued their statement that people got a reality check. The ARRL and Off Grid Ham were the only voices of reason. By the way, I’m not proud to be right. I’m actually embarrassed for my fellow amateurs. I did not want to believe that hams are such suckers but maybe I’ve been giving them too much credit.

      Of course if the two meter takeover ever does become a real threat, I’ll be there fighting with the best of them. Until then, I hope critical thinking comes back into style.

      As always, thanks for your ongoing support!

      Reply

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