Network Radio, what's it all about?
If you have read the recent articles in RadCom and Practical Wireless, then you will be aware of the growing popularity of Network Radio, or PTT over Cellular. Some of you might have glossed over this or ruled it out without a second thought as of course 'It's not REAL radio!' However, I do recommend that you do at least read what you can about this means of COMMUNICATION.
Having only been active on this mode for a short time, already I'm very impressed. The most popular channels at present are the 'Network Radios' hosted on the Zello system. The channels are moderated (i.e. users have to be approved by the channel admins) and can be blocked easily if they abuse the system. What a shame the same can't be done on VHF/UHF repeaters or even on HF! If you have read this far, you will be shocked by the fact that you do NOT have to be a licensed amateur to be approved to use the Network Radios channels. You might be further shocked to hear that the majority of users ARE licensed amateurs, and that the 'radio' procedures and discipline are superior to that often heard on the 'real' bands.
Zello is a free cross-platform app that can be run on an Android or iOS phone or tablet or a PC. Why not download it, create a simple free account and listen out on one of the Network Radios (note the 's' on Radios) channels and see what you think.
As an experiment, I have created a RAFARS channel on Zello. I am the admin and I have to approve users before they can be heard by anybody other than myself. If you are interested in trying this out, log on to the Zello RAFARS channel and give me a call. If I don't reply, just drop me an email at email@example.com and we can sort out a sked.
If you no longer have access to a shack or cannot erect aerials at your QTH, but you do have access to a WiFi or mobile phone signal, then you CAN operate Network Radio so why not get back on the air!