hard to imagine a time when unlicensed radio frequency bands were not
the norm, but early in the history of radio, strict spectrum control
was necessary in order to prevent unintentional radiation from crappy
equipment from interfering with services. Remember that even in the
mid 1940s, many, if not most, casual users were cobbling together their
own transmitters and receivers from scratch. Transmitter powers were
easily high enough to interfere with nearby and distant receivers, but
even improperly shielded receiver oscillator ("exciters") could cause
interference with a neighbor's nightly Lone Ranger broadcast.
March 1945 QST
of Contents]These articles are scanned and OCRed from old editions of the
ARRL's QST magazine. Here is a list of the
QST articles I have already posted. All copyrights are hereby acknowledged.
Around 1945, the FCC began entertaining the idea of allocating
bandwidth for the use of the newfangled "walkie-talkies" that were developed
for field communications during World War II. This 460 to 470 MHz band
was the first of the Citizens' Bands that eventually opened up in the
27 MHz realm, which was widely adopted by the trucking industry in the
1970s. Cellphones are the latest step in the evolution of license-free
radio devices, occupying bands in the 800, 900, 1800, 1900, and 2100
See all available
vintage QST articles.
The Citizens Radiocommunication Service
Commission Proposes Walkie-Talkies for General Citizenry
Outside of the amateur allocations, the most interesting feature
to us in the Federal Communication Commission's report on its proposed
postwar allocations above 25 Mc. was its announcement of its intention
to create a new Citizens Radiocommunication Service for the use of the
general public under minimum licensing requirements.
on this topic on this month's editorial page and our purpose here is
simply to present the Commission's own language from its report, which
tells the tale very well indeed:
"The development of light-weight
portable short-range radio communications equipment of the 'walkie-talkie'
type has opened the door to a large variety of new private applications
of radio. The success of such communications on the battlefront has
been followed by many suggestions for peacetime use of low-power
portable transceivers in the cities, on the highways, and in rural areas.
To make possible the fullest practicable development of private radio
communications within the limits set by other demands for assignments
in the spectrum, the Commission on its own motion proposes to allocate
the band from 460 to 470 Mc. to a new 'Citizens Radio-communication
"The possible uses of this service are as broad as
the imagination of the public and the ingenuity of equipment manufacturers
can devise. The citizens radiocommunications band can be used, for example,
to establish a 'physicians' calling service, through which a central
physicians' exchange in each city can reach doctors while they are en
route in their cars or otherwise not available by telephone. Department
stores, dairies, laundries and other business organizations can use
this service in communicating to and from their delivery vehicles. Similarly,
it can be used in communicating to and from the trucks, tractors, and
other mobile units operating in and around large industrial plants and
construction projects - many of which spread over a number of square
miles. It can be used on farms and ranches for communications to and
from men in the fields; on board harbor and river craft; in mountain
and swamp areas, etc. Sportsmen and explorers can use it to maintain
contact with camps and to decrease the hazards of hunting, fishing,
boating, and mountain climbing. Citizens generally will benefit from
the convenience of this service by utilizing two-way portable radio
equipment for short-range private service between points where regular
communication facilities are not available. During emergencies when
wire facilities are disrupted as a result of hurricane, flood, earthquake,
or other disaster, the service, as has been demonstrated by the amateur
service, will be of inestimable value.
allocations are being made for urban and for rural transit radio
communications, which will be available for communicating with city
or intercity buses, trucks, taxicabs, etc. These services may develop
on a common carrier or private basis on the frequencies set aside
for those purposes. In either event, the citizens radio communication
band will be open to taxicabs, delivery vehicles, or other mobile units,
as well - as for incidental communication between fixed points.
"Common carrier operation in the Citizens Radiocommunication
band will not be permitted, and no charge can be made for the transmission
of messages or use of the licensed facilities. The service will
thus be for the private use of the licensee who will be responsible
for the use of the facilities under the regulations to be promulgated-
by the Commission.
"The 460-470-Mc. band which the Commission
proposes to allocate for this service is essentially adapted to short-range
communications, and as such, is admirably suited to the uses proposed..
The rules will permit the use of 'booster' or automatic relay installations
where necessary. It is anticipated that most transmitters on this bandwidth
be of low power and will not utilize extreme antenna heights. Higher
power may be permitted in rural areas where no interference will result.
"The design of equipment for use in the citizens radio communication
band should challenge the ingenuity of radio designers and engineers.
A combination transmitter and receiver of reasonable weight can
no doubt be mounted in a suitcase; a broadcast receiver, an alarm system,
remote control systems, and other devices can perhaps be added to meet
particular needs. By keeping the rules and regulations to a minimum,
the Commission hopes to encourage ingenuity in design and in utilization.
"As in the case of the amateur service, the Commission proposes
to assign no channels within the band. It is reasonable to suppose that
most equipment will utilize a channel of 150 kc. more or less, making
possible some 60 or 70 channels; but, as in the amateur band, these
matters will not be determined. by rule or regulation. It should be
possible by the use of comparatively simple circuits already known to
provide both transmitters and receivers tunable over all or most of
the 460-470-Mc. range and emitting signals sharp enough to minimize
"The bands both above and below 460-470 Mc. are
assigned to other services; but the allocation is such that if the utility
and requirements of citizens radiocommunications warrant, the band can
at some future time be expanded. Alternatively, if a demand for assignments
in this band does not arise, the band can be reassigned to another service
at a later date .
"The essence of this new service is that
it will be widely available. Accordingly, only the minimum requirements
of the Communications Act plus a few minimum traffic rules will be set
up. Operator licenses will be granted only to citizens of the United
States., To procure such a license, an applicant need only show familiarity
with the relevant portions of the Communications Act and of the simple
regulations governing this service. No technical knowledge will be required.
It is hoped that the license can be in the form of a small card, with
the operator's license on one side and the station license on the other,
and that these will remain in force for five years with simple renewal
provisions. Station licenses will be limited to point-to-point, fixed
point-to-mobile, mobileto-mobile, and multiple-address communications;
broadcasting is not contemplated.
"A concomitant of the widest
possible availability is that particular licensees are not accorded
protection from interference. A license in this service does not guarantee
the right to a channel; it affords rather an opportunity to share with
others the use of a band. The success of this arrangement in the amateur
bands gives every reason to believe that it will be equally successful
in the citizens radio communications band. In the event that intolerable
abuses arise, the Commission will of course take steps to eliminate
them. The 10,000 kc. width of the band will no doubt be sufficient,
however, to make possible simultaneous and efficient use of the limited-range
service for many purposes, with serious interference limited to few
if any parts of the country.
"In any areas where serious interference
is experienced, it is the expectation of the Commission that various
users of the band in a particular community will jointly seek, perhaps
through local organizations similar to the American Radio Relay League
in the amateur field, cooperatively to solve local problems of interference
and to ensure maximum utilization. The new service is essentially a
local service; the problems will differ widely in an urban and rural
area, in the mountainous West and the flat Middle West, etc. The Commission
is prepared to cooperate with local groups which may be formed in the
working out of cooperative arrangements and it will resort to limiting
regulations only in the event that an imperative need is shown."