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Linking GMRS Repeater via VOIP - maybe a definitive answer?


SteveC7010
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This just popped up over on radioreference: https://forums.radioreference.com/gmrs-frs/354230-response-fcc-linking-repeater-audio-over-internet-its-legality.html

 

I have no reason to doubt its veracity. The poster is a moderator of a reddit section on GMRS.

 

It seems pretty clear to me: If your internet connection for the VOIP link is via the cable company, it's OK, if your connection is via DSL or dial-up through the phone company, it's not. I know it makes no sense, but it is what it is. It's the old protections for Ma Bell still in effect.

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How about those that are using mobile providers such as T-mobile for the connection? Some mobile providers offer internet data plans to be used with hotspots or wireless modems. Those signals can be rerouted wired.

 

I would read through the links provided by the FCC in their response. There are some detailed definitions in there that may answer your question.

 

My personal reaction is that hotspots and such via wireless providers are probably more closely related to landlines and thus not OK. YMMV

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I disagree with their interpretation of DSL as being interconnected. I'd say dial-up is a bit more nebulous, but also not quite "interconnected" in the way the rules are meant to prohibit.

 

The idea isn't to prevent linking between repeaters, it was to prevent a phone line from being hooked up to the repeater (i.e. an autopatch) where an unlicensed user could dial the phone number (intentionally or unintentionally) and begin making transmissions on the GMRS side. This is the reason for telephone interconnection being banned.

 

When you use DSL, you're using the phone line but your DSL modem is sending a digital signal on the phone line concurrent with any analog phone traffic. The phone company at the office end demodulates the signal and patches you into the Internet via their fiber trunks. At no point can someone dial your phone number and gain access to the repeater.

 

When you use dial-up it's a similar story except you're using the analog phone line to dial the remote office and send the data stream over the normal audio path. So yes, you're making a phone call over the phone line but someone can't just ring your phone number and gain access to the repeater. So even this, technically, should be allowed. I wouldn't test the FCC on it, but for technical reasons it should be permissible.

 

Their point about VoIP is spot-on though. A VoIP system like we use with Asterisk and app_rpt is basically a private PBX system. You're making phone calls between internal extensions, not connected to the Public Switched Telephone Network. There's no phone number for someone to dial, and no way for someone who isn't authenticated in the system from being able to activate a repeater. By restricting to GMRS licensees only (and keeping Ham operators off of the network), there is controlled access only to licensed individuals which meets the FCC's rules. Now if this VoIP system had a public phone number, it would be considered interconnected and would be in violation of the FCC rules. Again, someone could just ring that number and begin transmitting on a licensed service, which is what this aims to prevent in the first place.

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Interconnection, Wireline and PSTN references are all in rules that are pre-dating internet. They all pertain to switched telephone services and dial up connections voice audio. 

 

They do not pertain to point to point leased lines (that do not run through a telco switch) and they do not pertain to internet. Period.

 

I worked with all this stuff, in commercial radio, back in the early 90's when only 1 guy in the neighborhood had dial up internet!

 

There is no use debating HOW the internet is delivered or routed, it doesn't matter, internet is not PSTN in any form.  

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