In order to make the most efficient use of this program, it is necessary to use a modem made by the SCS Company (Germany) utilizing their Pactor technology. The current Pactor offering in the US is Pactor 3 and when used strictly for text email messages, it is not quite as fast as regular email. All things in the Ham radio world progress and Pactor is no exception. The SCS guys have been busy and about a year ago they introduced the Pactor 4 modem. By most reports, it is 2-3 times faster than P3 and now offers about the same speed as regular email.
Without going into unnecessary detail, the problem with P4 was that it exceeded the FCC limited symbol rate, thus making its use in the US, illegal. Enter the ARRL. Some months ago, the ARRL stepped into this issue with a proposed rule change which would allow the symbol rate to be changed to accommodate several technological advancements, including Pactor4. They noted that:
The symbol rate restrictions were created to suit digital modes that are no longer in favor,” the ARRL noted in its petition. “If the symbol rate is allowed to increase as technology develops and the Amateur Service utilizes new data emission types, the efficiency of amateur data communications will increase.
This move by the ARRL is a tremendous boon to the effort to support increasing efficiency in Amateur Radio data communications. Very interestingly, the issue surrounding the changes which the ARRL has proposed, have proven to be the most active proceedings ever. From the ARRL:
For those who support this advancing technology, you will be pleased to learn that the majority of the comments support the symbol change.The League’s petition now tops the FCC’s “Most Active Proceedings” list. As of the December 23 comment deadline, more than 850 comments had been filed.
For those who have or would like to have one of the most efficient wilderness communications devices, the SCS Pactor4 modem is at the top of the heap. They offer two models, both capable of delivering the same performance - the Pactor4 7800 and the Pactor4 7400. Cost and features differentiate the models, but the performance is identical. I will post the final ruling by the FCC when it comes down.