Proposal to Establish 500kc as an
International Memorial Frequency
utilization of 500 kHz as “Museum Frequency”
According to Radio Regulations (RR) of the International
Telecommunication Union (ITU) the frequency band 495-505 kHz is still allocated
to the maritime mobile service for the use of “distress and calling”. Until
recently the 500 kHz centre frequency of this small portion of the spectrum
was used for these purposes using Morse Telegraphy transmissions only.
Through the introduction of the Global Maritime Distress
and Safety System (GMDSS), the old distress system on 500 kHz has become
redundant. Due to modern alternative radio systems, 500 kHz is nowadays
rarely used as a general calling frequency.
The almost complete abandonment of this frequency, even
just for calling purposes, has led to an increased interest by radio amateurs
in some countries to use it as an additional amateur radio band. One can
only assume that other radio users will also show an interest in this band.
We the community
of German merchant radio and coast station operators propose that the historically
unique 500 kHz (plus/minus 5 kHz) frequency should be designated as a “Virtual
Radio Memorial”. This aim can at best be achieved by an official assignment
of 500 kHz as a “Museum Frequency” for the purpose of demonstrating historical
equipment and methods of radio communication, in particular those of the
maritime mobile services.
In other areas such as nature,
science and technology there are many historically important examples at
national and international levels (UNESCO) which prove worthy of
preservation. In many cases these can be judged as almost essential. Many
countries like Italy, USA, Russia, Denmark, France, Germany and other countries
have taken steps to preserve historical inventions and contributions. The
international usage of this historical frequency and all that goes with
it is certainly something worthy of preservation. Although it cannot be
physically preserved in a museum, 500 kHz certainly could continue to be
used for demonstration purposes.
Over 100 years
ago one of the first uses of Radio was for maritime purposes and particularly
for the safety of life at sea. For more than 70 years, 500 kHz has been
primarily employed as an aid to mankind in times of distress and not for
commercial reasons. Not even wars such as World War II have prevented the
use of 500 kHz for humanitarian purposes. Tens of thousands of lives have
been saved by the use of this frequency. Many radio officers have lost
their own lives in assisting fellow passengers and crew during their time
of duty using 500 kHz. The extensive and impressive history of the “SOS”
frequency deserves suitable recognition and should be preserved in its
present form as a memorial for future generations. Just to designate this
frequency as an unused one, would not serve this purpose sufficiently.
It would therefore be appropriate to employ 500 kHz for historical presentations
and events connected with the history of radio. This would include any
kind of museum, historical vessel or any group that has an historical interest
in its usage.
as to which organisations or individuals would be entitled to use such
a “Museum Frequency” and the administrative/technical conditions for such
usage can be determined at a later date. In essence however we propose
that 500 kHz should be established as a Radio Memorial operated as a Museum
Such a decision
would ensure the continuity of 500 kHz as an appropriate and historical
memorial and be a meaningful utilization of this frequency without undue
You are requested
therefore to verify whether the above-mentioned proposal should be on the
agenda for the national group preparations for the next ITU-World-Radio
Conference in 2007 (WRC-2007). This would probably apply under the conference
agenda item 6 or 7.2.
or similar proposal to the appropriate CEPT preparation committee would
in our opinion be positively received, and continue a groundswell of interest
in all CEPT countries.
Rolf Marschner, Norbert Gabriel, Jürgen Gerpott, Hans-Jörg Pust