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[liberationtech] Can HAM radio be used for communication between health workers in rural areas with no cell connectivity?

Sky (Jim Schuyler) sky at
Tue Mar 5 18:15:43 PST 2013

Since "HAM" (amateur radio) is real radio, not phone, an Android app wouldn't use it directly. The app might -control- an amateur radio remotely, and there is software available to do this. However, I'm not sure what benefit it would bring to this project.

In the US, amateur radio operators must send all information in "clear text," and encryption is illegal, thus you would not want to try to exchange medical info because you'd need to encrypt it. In other countries it -should- be illegal to transmit medical info in the clear, so I'd suggest avoiding this.

Also, "high frequency" amateur radio doesn't have sufficient bandwidth to transfer much digital information. VHF/UHF does in theory, but in general amateur radio operators restrict their bandwidth and the maximum usable transfer rate is under 9600 baud. i.e. very slow.

-Sky  AA6AX 

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Sky (Jim Schuyler, PhD)
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On Mar 5, 2013, at 5:47 PM, ITechGeek <itg at> wrote:

> Depends on what information you might be transmitting and the specific
> laws of the local country/countries involved.
> HAMs have to be licensed through the local countries licensing
> authority (in the case of the US would be the FCC).
> Under US you could probably get away with allowing them to coordinate
> if it is non-profit in nature, but you would not be able to discuss
> any medical information that would allow a third party to possibly
> identify the patient.
> And some countries are very restrictive on who can get HAM licenses
> due to the potential to get around their propaganda controls.  Also
> rules can change based on frequencies being used cause lower
> frequencies can transmit further.
> Can you provide the country or countries involved?
> -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> -ITG (ITechGeek)
> ITG at ITechGeek.Com
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> On Tue, Mar 5, 2013 at 8:07 PM, Yosem Companys <companys at> wrote:
>> From: Dr. Tusharkanti Dey <dr.tusharkantidey at>
>> Dear All,
>> I am proposing to set up a ICT based health project in tribal areas with poor infrastructural facilities with poor cell phone connectivity due to unstable signal strengths. i have learnt that HAM radio software from HamSphere is downloadable on android phones.I would like to know whether these android phones with HAM radio software installed can be used for communication used for voice communication between health workers themselves and with head quarter staff. Will it be legally permissible and what technical requirements will be needed to set up such system. The other alternative of setting up of mobile signal boosters or long distance WiFi hubs are currently not affordable to our limited resource organisation
>> Thanks,
>> Dr.Tusharkanti Dey
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