posted on Apr, 10 2017 @ 07:43 PM
I just learned of a government facility in Green Bank, West Virginia (it’s not the only one) where there is a 13,000 square mile zone of restricted
use of radio frequency transmissions. The National Radio Quiet Zone (NRQZ) in West Virginia is an area in which radio transmissions are heavily
restricted by law to facilitate scientific research and military intelligence. The Quiet Zone protects the telescopes of the National Radio Astronomy
Observatory (NRAO) facility, as well as the antennas and receivers of the U.S. Navy's Information Operations Command (NIOC) at Sugar Grove. The NIOC
is a key station in the ECHELON system operated by the National Security Agency (NSA).
In the Radio Quiet Zone, 2-way radio communications, cell phone, and Wi-Fi use have, for the most part, been eliminated since 1958 to prevent
interference to the government’s radio telescope and NSA communications array. The Quiet Zone is strictly enforced within the 20 mile radius of the
telescope to the point where citizens have had to discontinue their use of “devices emitting noticeably high amounts of electromagnetic radiation”
such as microwave ovens, WiFi routers, cordless phones, wireless equipment, and unintentional radiators such as faulty electrical equipment.
Gasoline-powered motor vehicles are forbidden within the zone nearest the telescope as the ignition system on spark-ignited engines generates radio
interference, resulting in all vehicles and equipment needing to be diesel-powered.
With nearly 60 years of enforcing the Quiet Zone, I’m sure the government has perfected their means of controlling the local communications systems
in that area. With this aspect in mind, I see this zone as a good example of the type of control that could be utilized in a scenario where the
government controls all communications. Currently, there have been uses of cell phone blocking techniques and an internet “kill switch” to block
sensitive communications in localities where protests and civil unrest have taken place. In the Radio Quiet Zone it seems that cell phones are not
being blocked, as such a signal would probably interfere with the telescope, but rather the cell towers have been restricted by law. Apparently the
only enforcement is a 50 dollar fine imposed by the F.C.C. for any RF interference created by the public.
Although most omnidirectional and high-power radio frequency transmissions are not allowed, there are some exceptions, therefore, more reason why they
wouldn’t employ a frequency blocking transmission in such a situation. Not all radio transmissions are prohibited, such transmissions include
emergency services (police, fire, and ambulance) and Citizen's Band radio. The only broadcast radio stations in the area are one station in the AM
band, and several low-power FM stations. Broadcast transmitters in the core of the Quiet Zone are forced to operate at reduced power and use highly
directional antennas. Exceptions to restrictions are usually determined on a case-by-case basis, with preference given to public safety, such as
remote alarm systems, repeaters for emergency services, and NOAA Weather Radio.
So, what forms of communications are left for the citizens of Green Bank? The citizens can still use hardwired communications and satellite signals,
such as land line phones, wire and fiber optic cables, satellite services such as satellite T.V., phone, and radios. Low wattage indoor WiFi is
allowed when it doesn’t interfere with the telescope. Public safety broadcast communications, a commercial broadcast AM radio station and a few low
powered FM radio stations are also allowed. Interestingly enough, use of the Citizens Band radio is allowed without restriction. Perhaps a combination
of frequency and low power output is the reason that CBs are OK to use. Amateur Ham radio operators can broadcast from a base station with permission
and when below a certain output level, this includes repeaters. Mobile Ham radios are not as restricted.
When we examine the National Radio Quiet Zone information, what can we expect when communications are being controlled by the government during an
emergency or crisis? Well, this information seems to support some of my contentions concerning such a scenario. Unless you are in a hot spot that is
strictly controlled, where jamming interference and an internet kill switch is used, satellite, hard wired and low powered line of sight
communications may still be available.
What about a scenario where the internet, hard wired services, cell phone towers and satellite communications are blacked out entirely? Unless jammed
locally, 2-way radios may be the only alternative left. Amateur radios (and their repeaters) will likely be operational at high power for official
emergency purposes or perhaps used at a lower power for personal communications. Whatever the restrictions, those frequencies will be highly monitored
and if personal use is being reduced to low powered transmissions, the range of Ham radios will not be much better than unlicensed 2-way radios.
CBs and other low power unlicensed 2-ways (FRS and MURS) will probably be best as these radios are cheap and readily available. Also, the low powered
unlicensed frequencies are for personal public use, would be harder to receive, and are mostly ignored unless there are complaints to the F.C.C., who
would likely be over burdened in a national emergency crisis. Using line of sight, horizontally polarized directional antennas for low power
unlicensed transmissions would help by increasing range, making communications clearer and would be less likely to be picked up and monitored. A
private WiFi meshnet network, using highly efficient directional antennas, would probably go unnoticed in addition to being encrypted and password