Rec Networks

REC Networks started as a record-a-call telephone entertainment company. They have since become involved in low power broadcasting and offer free services helpful to the unlicensed low power broadcaster such as free engineering information and channel searches.

I find their history interesting as exploring the telephone network was also something I found to be of interest as a teenager when operating our bootleg radio station.

We discovered something called “loops” back then. These were test numbers used by telephone technicians for trunk (trunks are the circuits that connect telephone central offices to each other) testing but we found them useful as way to allow listeners of our pirate radio station to call us without the number given being traceable to us.

Loops have two telephone numbers associated with them, back in the days they almost always used -0018 and -0019 for the loop in a given central office. If you had a trunks in a trunk group you needed to test, first you would call the -0018 side of the loop from a test panel on one of the trunks to be tested. It would send a 1 Khz tone from the far in at 0 dbm (dbm means decibels referenced to a 1 milliwatt signal level). You would receive the tone on your test panel at say -3dbm, meaning their was 3db loss in the trunk in the receive direction (from the distant central office to you). Then on another trunk circuit you would call the 0019 side of the loop. The loop would connect both trunk circuits together so now if you sent a tone at 0db on the second trunk and you received it back at -6db on the first you would know that the transmit loss on the second trunk was 3db (6db total loss -3db known receive loss of the first circuit). Then you would repeat the procedure for both circuits in the reverse order to determine the transmit loss for the first circuit and the receive loss for the second.

The important thing to know here is that if you called say 555-0018 you would hear a 1 Khz tone, and then if someone else called 555-0019 you would be connected together and could talk.

So there we were operating a pirate radio station and we wanted to take callers online or take requests but we didn’t want to give out our telephone number thus identifying ourselves to the FCC. So instead we’d call 555-0018, and give out 555-0019 over the air and wait for the tone to stop.

If you are thinking ah it was tough back then, today we’d just use a cell phone! Be aware that cell phones have GPS receivers built into them now and will give law enforcement your location within about six feet. Call forwarding is also trivial to trace.

That’s ok though I think the pirate stations that are operating in defiance of FCC orders to shut down on the grounds that it is their first amendment rights are doing the right thing. Surely if the framers of the constitution had anticipated broadcast, it would have been included, and logically should be included as part of “the press”.

Leave a Reply