Amateur radio isn’t immune from conspiracy theories, speculation, and silly notions. But this one may be the silliest of all…
A large number of radio enthusiasts seem to have embraced the idea that when it comes to our radio spectrum, “if we don’t use it, we will lose it”. This warped bit of logic has been responsible for all sorts of efforts to generate more noise on our bands, a misguided effort intended to show that we’re making good use of the frequencies we’ve been granted.
But I don’t recall seeing anything in the FCC rules that pertain to our hobby requiring us to fill our bands with RF or risk losing them. Besides, how would that be measured? Do you believe there are FCC employees tuning across all of the amateur radio spectrum while keeping a running tally of the number of stations heard?
That’s not to suggest that ham radio frequencies can’t be re-assigned. Threats exist all around as RF spectrum has become like the last acres of remaining land in a new territory. It’s valuable and they ain’t making any more of it. But given the business friendly nature of government all any commercial interest has to do is make a request and it would be snatched from us in a heart beat. Even if there were a million of us occupying that desired slice of spectrum 24/7.
It’s really as simple as this: if some industry wants it, they get it and we lose it. If they don’t want it, we keep it. Period.
We’ve only managed to hang on to some spectrum for this long because we got 200 meters and down more than a century ago when the government thought those frequencies useless and some of them are still considered useless for commerce. For now…
Our highest frequency allocations continue to be picked over because business suddenly finds those deliciously valuable. For instance, the recent auction of a shared bit of bandwidth:
The FCC will auction sharing rights to the upper 50 MHz of the 3300 – 3500 MHz secondary amateur radio allocation to commercial 5G interests in the wake of the Department of Defense (DoD) agreement to share spectrum at 3450 – 3550 MHz. The entire band currently supports a variety of military operations, and amateur radio has a long history of peaceful coexistence with the Department of Defense as a secondary user of this spectrum.
There’s absolutely no reason to believe that if we were making more use of that spectrum we could have prevented this action. Commercial 5G interests wanted it, and the government handed it to them. It should be noted that radio amateurs were not consulted.
So while the old adage “if we don’t use it, we will lose it” might sound like good advice, it’s no more effective than that song and dance your Mother gave you about “starving children in China” when you didn’t eat the asparagus on your dinner plate.