[Sticky] Is Network Radio REAL radio?
That depends how you look at it, but it is a communications platform in its own right, it is a small part of a massive system that has evolved in some part from the original form of Coaxial RF radio systems and (at some point and in some cases) uses a form of pe-licenced wireless connectivity whether it be a Cellular network, computer based Wi-Fi or satellites etc. It is not effected by the weather, static or the ionosphere so Network Radio is extremely reliable and has outstanding clarity and as an added bonus and because it does not use armature RF, you don't need to be a licenced operator to use it. There are many un monitored channels that are really just a free for all, the rules and language skills are pretty minimal to non-existent, this is fine if that’s what you’re looking for, or there are some very well monitored and run channels that are more refined, you need to gain permission fr4om moderators to use them and they are moderated vigorously, the official “Network Radio” channels for instance are some off these channels, extremely well run and an excellent place for someone studying for the Foundation Armature licence as you would be able to experience and engage in the type of etiquette expected during the use of Armature RF bands. You could also pick up some very valuable information regarding RF as a lot of licenced Amateur users also use Network Radio, You also have the additional added bonus that you don't need any special equipment, any device that will run an app or software will work, like your mobile phone (which is actually a type of RF radio). Though, In terms of one to one direct simplex communication in the RF term, then the answer would have to be no. Though you can have (Private) One-to-One communications. The die-hard Armature RF radio purest would argue that it is not “radio” communications and you can see their point as it’s so different from the original RF, however, because of its heritage and superior quality’s plus usefulness, it has defiantly earned its place in the communication world. Because it relies on a data network it is still vulnerable to outages and network failures (although few and far between) where as an old school RF radio does not, However most home base RF units do require a 230V power supply that can be interrupted, weather conditions and a 14 year sun cycle that can dramatically affect the working range of an RF signal beyond line of sight, so really the only true invulnerable RF Radios are the ones that work from an independent battery power supply and are just beyond the line of sight of each other. There will always be a place for RF radio and those that study hard and take the test's to earn the converted call sign's, CW (Morse Code) and Voice are over Radio Frequency’s are the foundation for all other "Radio" based communication, so learning how and why it works is a very worthwhile venture for anyone with an interest, but there will also always be a new and evolving form or platform for communications.
In a nut shell, Network Radio is to the user what they want it to be, if you are interested in clear and relatively uninterrupted social chat around the world then it’s for you, if you are more interested in the science and the technology behind the connectivity, then it’s for you, if you’re only interested in short range 1 to 1 or 1 to many communication, then it’s for you. However If building and experimenting with antennas, receivers and transmitters is what you’re after, then it’s not for you. Network Radio does not lend the chance to discover the best position for an antenna, or the right frequency to use at a given time, you cannot learn how to contact another station thousands of miles away and the feeling of accomplishment that gives, In any case Network Radio a worthy addition to any Armature Radio enthusiast.
Technology, in ALL it's guizes, moves forward.... move with it!