Amateur radio operators use analog tech for pandemic communications #COVID19 #HamR

Ham radio check-ins with different networks is transforming into how checking everyone is coping during the pandemic.

Paul Judd of Maple Ridge, Canada, whose call sign is VA7XQ, fires up his home station daily to check in with fellow ham radio users around the region and, sometimes, around the world.

“It’s one of the most elemental ways of communicating between two persons or two stations or two places without having the huge infrastructure. There’s an informal part where you can chew the fat and catch up with a friend.”

Typically, operators ask after each others’ families and health. Lately, Judd says, the conversations have been turning to how everyone is coping with the new reality of physical distancing during the pandemic.

“We tend to want to sit in a room with radio equipment and talk to people who are in isolated locations to begin with, it sort of comes natural to a ham radio operator to be isolated.”

As more and more people turn to social media, video conferencing and cell phones to communicate during the COVID-19 pandemic, Judd says the older technology can still play an important role.

Amateur radio operators have played a major part in emergency coordination following earthquakes and hurricanes, he says. While landline and internet service is unlikely to be lost anytime soon, Judd says he’s ready to put his hobby to use should he be needed.

And with surging phone use causing sometimes spotty and unreliable cell service, Judd said he’s happy to have access to a more reliable technology.

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