Radio as a broadcast medium is something we take for granted. Yet it is curious to know that if we were to travel back in time 100 years, the first commercial radio broadcasts would still be 10 years in the future! Radio had been known about long before then. It is part of the electromagnet spectrum, and its uses had been theorized by many a scientist. But had not been harnessed in the way we know it now.
This article is looking at a particular type of radio wave. So-called because, as with everything on the spectrum, it travels in waves at certain distinguishing lengths of wave – called short wave. Now, if you’re familiar with broadcast radio, you will probably have heard of MW – medium wave. There is also LW or long wave, as well as FM, which stands for ‘frequency modulation’. Don't forget DAB or Digital Audio Broadcasting, which is the latest form of radio. But short wave gets less airtime, so why does it remain important, and do you need short wave for your business?
First, if you are looking for a new DAB internet radio, that is a great review that should help you make a decision. Yet it is important to know that DAB differs from all other forms of radio. This is because it is entirely digital. It is broadcast from a range of transmitters. The beauty of DAB is that it enables ‘multiplexing,’ which is the ability to package many radio stations together for broadcast on single frequency networks. This is a massive jump from traditional radio. Now let’s look at shortwave and what it is.
You may be unaware that there are many organizations and bodies that still use short wave radio as a necessity. So, what is it, and who uses it? We need a brief history lesson to explain.
In the early part of the 20th century, an Italian working in the UK by the name of Guglielmo Marconi was researching the use of radio as a communication medium. He would become known as the father of radio. However, there were many brilliant people working on the same theory.
What Marconi and other radio pioneers discovered was that LW – which was the original focus of development – and MW could only be broadcast ‘line of sight.’ In other words, in a straight, visible line between a transmitter and a receiver. Marconi was aiming to develop a radio system to communicate with ships at sea. As once over the horizon from the transmitter, they could not receive broadcasts.
Next, Marconi looked at short waves. That is those radio waves at the shorter end of the radio spectrum. Here he's discovered something remarkable: shortwaves – when directed upwards – reflect back to earth by the highly charged layer of the atmosphere we know as the ionosphere. Marconi had made a tremendous breakthrough. He saw that by repeatedly bouncing shortwave radio at an angle, it could reach the other side of the world.
Now that we know what shortwave is about, it’s time to look at who still uses shortwave broadcasts. Then, you can see whether you need it for your business.
Short wave is used by many organizations that provide essential services in a wide range of areas. One of the most famous of all broadcasting companies – and a pioneer of early radio – the British Broadcasting Company or BBC still uses shortwave. They primarily use it for the World Service. This is because it can reach distant parts of the world not covered by the Internet or by mobile services. This may give you a clue as to who else uses short wave. Here’s a brief list of users:
That list is by no means comprehensive. However, it should give you an idea as to why this often-believed outmoded radio method is still as important today as it was a century ago.
If you manage a business in any of the above-mentioned industries, then short wave radio is the way to go. Or, if you have any job requiring persons far apart from each other to communicate – agriculture, for example, or surveying. A short wave radio ensures clear and accurate communication between your team members. There is a lot of information regarding short waves that you should check out before you choose the equipment you need.