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Is FT8 popularity growing at the cost of SSB Phone and CW? April 6, 2021 | Author Basu (VU2NSB)

Is FT8 growing at the cost of SSB Phone and CW?

This is a million-dollar question. The debate on whether FT8 popularity is growing at the cost of SSB Phone and CW modes is raging across various social media platforms as well as other forums. Amateur radio operators with diverse individual preferences often have quite different and conflicting views on the matter. Some people tend to predict a doomsday scenario for traditional modulation modes while others justify it as a natural evolutionary process. On social media forums dedicated to ham radio, we constantly read about FT8 contacts being made in hundreds while very little is mentioned about the regular SSB radiotelephony, CW, or other traditional modes… It leaves an impression that by-and-large, the ham radio community might have embraced FT8 and consequently moved away from SSB phone and CW… At least, that’s the impression we get from what we read these days.

Is the above assumption true? … Perhaps NOT! … Perhaps the majority of FT8 QSOs are done by radio amateurs who are relatively newer licensees, belong to the generation that is more social media savvy, and hence might be prone to regularly tweet or put up posts about their DX activity that they almost invariably conducted on FT8. Hence, being more vocal about their activities, they tend to project FT8 all over the media, thus giving a rather false impression that FT8 might have almost totally taken over HF amateur radio. However, this notion is far from the truth… In this article, we will do some statistical analysis of HF on-band activity using scientific methods. Based on these, we will attempt to draw realistic and logical conclusions.

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