Long ago I developed a theory that I call the “Faux Radio Complication”.

It’s based on the notion that given sufficient time, any form of radio communication that doesn’t rely on RF from point of origin directly to point of reception, without intermediary hardware, will disappoint humans.

This started as a bit of a lark that I would pull out of my hat whenever local radio friends would get into a snit over some new repeater policy that changed the game for them. But it’s becoming more widespread given our rapid development and adoption of faux radio systems.

These include all the “acronym” systems like IRLP, DMR, D-STAR, C4FM and others in addition to all the analog repeater systems around the world.

The “complication” that arises from the use of these systems is that the end users don’t own the intermediary hardware or network. They’re not so much radio operators as they are “users” of someone else’s equipment and as such, are subject to the whims of the “owners”.

That’s not to say that the owners haven’t been incredibly generous with their time and treasure in building these systems and making them available to others, but given sufficient time, someone will get their panties in a wad over some change or new policy that they don’t like and “users” are powerless to do anything about it except to take their ball and go home.

Recent rumblings in the AMSAT world reminded me that amateur radio satellites are also faux radio complications.

The hardware is built and launched by those who control the use of those assets. The money will be donated by “users” who ultimately have little or no say in how those assets will be controlled. Of course those in charge will counter that their decisions are made in the best interest of the orbital assets and they’re probably correct. Anarchy isn’t good for satellites or terrestrial repeaters but given sufficient time, “users” will become disappointed about something and that’s the point.

Launching RF into the aether and having someone directly drag that signal out of thin air, without any other hardware in the middle, is as simple and pure as it gets and in that scenario, you need only to get along with one other human.

But build an infrastructure that requires dozens or even hundreds of humans to all get along, and it’s all but certain that, eventually, disappointed “users” will be left in its wake.

That’s the Faux Radio Complication.