CB Convac: Can Sunspots Kill CB?

The following column written by Ink Dipper, appeared in syndicated columns in newspapers during the 3rd or 4th week of September 1976:

CONVAC - 1976 - 09-22-1976 - Ironwood Daily Globe, 22 Sep 1976, Wed, Page 8.jpgWill 1978 be the beginning of the end for CBing in America or is that just a cry of “wolf”?
We’re not crying wolf, but there is something disturbing ahead for CBing as we move toward the peaks of the 11-year sunspot cycle.Sunspot activity causes CB signals to “skip” thousands of miles. These bouncing signals block out local signals and knock out the normal effective range of a CB radio.
The peak of activity will begin in 1978 and last from three to five years. No one can say for certain how bad the problem will be, but there is little optimism.
At least two independent studies suggest dire problems for CBers. Proposed solutions offer little hope.
It seems inconceivable that sunspots, which are eruptions of the sun’s surface can cause havoc on the world’s most widely used from a wireless communications. But it happens, and here’s how:
A normal CB wave is like light from an electric bulb – it goes out in all directions. The signals that go up simply pass through the Earth’s atmosphere.
But when sunspots build in intensity, they increase the amount of electrical energy in a layer of the atmosphere known as the ionosphere. The energy buildup causes the layer to become reflective – just like a mirror. And instead of passing through the atmosphere, the signal reflects – or skips back to earth.
We CBers who went through the last skip peaks are probably the least optimistic about what will happen in 1978. Sunspot skips sometimes decreased range by 75 per cent or more. There is always a small amount of skip specially in the summer. But this is usually related to sunspots and nothing like the skip in the last peak period.
The Federal Communications Commission is aware of what is coming. FCC officials have been studying two reports, one done for the U.S. Department of Commerce and the other for the President’s Office of Telecommunications Policy.
The dilemma, the studies point out, is clear. The peak will come and skip will increase.
Also, sources inside the FCC say, that the agency has a report stating much the same thing.
A solution to end all of this would be to move the citizen’s band to a higher frequency range, one not hit as hard by the “skip” phenomenon is now on the 27 megahertz range, and suggested ranges for the move are the 50 and 200 megahertz range.
But a move to the higher frequency would make the average CB set cost more – possible as much as $1,000 – because of added electronic refinements needed to operate at the higher level.
If the FCC did move CB up the frequency spectrum – and abandoned the 27 megahertz frequencies – it would mean that Americans would own millions of useless two-way radios tuned to frequencies that no longer could be legally used.
Whether the FCC takes actions or not, we don’t believe the end of CBing is at hand. Too many people have CB radios now, and some them will ride it out. But the phenomenal growth of CB use could end unless a practical solution can be found.

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