The Uncertain Future of Ham and CB Radio

Ham radio or amateur radio is a popular service and hobby that links people, electronics, and communications. People use ham radio to communicate across town, across the world, and even into space, without the need for cell phones or the internet. It’s social, fun, informative, and can be a life saver during an emergency situation

On the other hand CB radio is a service that was created by the FCC in 1945 as a designated portion of radio spectrum for use by the average citizen for personal communications. In other words, CB radio is a private, two-way, short distance private communication service for personal activities. You’ve probably seen the device in long distance trucks and on large construction sites.

While the popularity of CB radio is waning since the advent of cellphones, the internet, and GPS technology, some people, especially truckers, hikers, hunters, RVers, and campers, still find numerous useful applications for CB radio. In fact, statistics indicate that out of the 3.5 million professional drivers in the U.S. 90% believe that the CB radio is a critical tool. Additionally, roughly 75% of professional drivers report that they use a CB radio every day.

Similarly, Ham radio is still popular within certain circles. While Ham radio operators get involved for numerous different reasons, they all have three things in common. They possess some basic knowledge of radio technology as well as its basic principles. They also have to pass an examination by the FCC license in order to operate on the radio frequencies known as amateur bands. Amateur bands are radio frequencies assigned by the FCC for use by ham radio operators.

While the future of CB radio seems bright, the future of Ham radio is quite uncertain. The most recent surveys indicate that the number of amateur radio licenses in the U.S. has maintained a paltry 1 percent annual growth in the past few years, with approximately 7,000 new licenses added each year up to 2018. Although the FCC doesn’t track the demographic data of ham operators, anecdotal evidence suggests that white men in their 60s and 70s constitute much of the population. As these operators age out, the major concern is that there are very few young people to sustain the service. The question of how to attract more young people into the ham community reveals sharp divides in the amateur radio community. Furthermore, emerging digital technologies are worsening these divides. Perhaps you’re trying to find CB radios for sale to install in your truck. Or you’re simply toying with the idea of becoming a ham operator. In either case, it pays to first learn about what the different models offer in terms of features and functionality.

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