At this time we are now aware that the proposal for ditching amateur radio out of 144-146Mhz has been mainly driven by Thales Group. What are their plans with those frequencies?

Since a couple of years (2017 ?) Thales is working on the Stratobus and according to various publication is expected to hit the market in 2023. The Stratobus is presented as a swiss army knife of the sky. It basically consists of a lighter than air balloon (Hydrogen? Helium?) carrying various payloads at an altitude of 20km (~65000 feet). Those payloads can be of various types, from helping against terrorism to monitoring the environment. Here an excerpt of their advertisement

…the Stratobus TM can carry out other missions on land or at sea, including security (the fight against terrorism, drug trafficking), environmental monitoring (forest fires, soil erosion, pollution) …

We do think that, once again, a corporate is raising the specter of terrorism and doing green washing in order to push their agenda. While the project is innovative in many ways, it needs to be able to communicate with ground stations. Whoever reads the CEPT resolution proposal they wrote can make an obvious link that they want those frequencies for that purpose. The text is more or less an “administration formatted” version of their adevertising material.

The number of manned and unmanned aircraft equipped with sensors has grown significantly in the past 20 years together with the need of bidirectional low to high data rate communications.
One can mention the following applications: fire surveillance, border surveillance, air quality and environment monitoring, traffic monitoring, disaster monitoring, terrain modelling, imagery (visible, infrared, radar, meteo), video monitoring… Such applications require communications for flight coordination and identification, sensor control or synchronization and for access to ground databases.

The first sentence is not backed up with any figures. As of today, we are not aware of any country authorizing unmanned aircraft to fly over their airspace and out of sight of the pilot. The most unmanned aircraft are operated in war areas, where noone actually cares about frequency management.

The second paragraph is also paraphrasing their advertising material but only the “green part”, there is no mention of drug trafficking or terrorism.

Thales is actually correct when they state there is no frequency bands allocated to such “non-safety aeronautical mobile applications”. What they want has nothing to deal with current aeronautical allocations, no regular ATC.

From an administration point of view, targeting the 2m amateur band is a clever move. As it is the only band in the world which is allocated to the same service worldwide. This means, no long negotiations to kick several services out of the band, from an organizational view it is good. The general public is also perceiving amateur radio as a decaying service and all of their terrorism/green washing could be used against amateurs to gain public opinion: “Look at those old ragchewing amateurs, they prevent us to protect you against bad guys and also to save your planet”.

4 Comments

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