Is DMR, Allstar or Echolink ham radio?

I have heard a number of passionate discussions related to DMR, Echolink and Allstar not being ham radio since it involves sending data across the internet. Being new to this hobby I will chime in with my perspective. I will note that I find far more people accepting of DMR than Allstar and Echolink while I see far more similarities between these modes than differences from a technology perspective.

All three of these modes involve the use of the internet to pass data between nodes. These nodes are essentially simplex systems or duplex and then take that information and broadcast it into the RF spectrucm, usually in the VHF/UHF range. Sometimes the transmission starts as an RF tansmission from a radio and is then converted and sent across the internet. Sometimes it starts as a purely digital communication form, like through the Echolink app on a smartphone and then gets sent out to a network of nodes and then broadcast out repeaters or simplex nodes around the globe, where the communciation becomes a real RF signal somewhere on the planet.

My perspective is that as long as at some point in the process RF transmission takes place, even if it didn’t start that way it is related to ham radio since it involves the use of the RF spectrum where we must follow the FCC guidelines. I recognize that making contacts around the world using these methods is not as exciting since it is very easy to do. Contacts made using the HF bands with no repeaters or internet connection involved is a far more exciting effort since it involves capturing the actual RF signal being bounced around the globe.

Being new to the hobby I find it unfortunate that experimenting with new ways to get an RF signal from point A to point B through any medium would be frowned on. I am very interested in the bridging of the RF world with modern IP based modes of communicating. DMR, Allstar and Echolink all have their place in essentially creating a realtively simple path for communication to take place that would have been near impossible before these modes were created.

As a 39 year old just joining the hobby I recognize I am one of the young ones and I believe that embracing new technologies that are related to RF will help facilitate an environment that will be more appealing and exciting to a new generation of ham operators.

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