DRM Mystery: Benn shares the latest on Turms Tech Station WIPE

The following article by Benn Kobb was posted on Dec. 25 to Glenn Hauser’s World
of Radio list on groups.io. I repost it here with Benn’s permission:

Subject: As the World ‘Turms’

It would seem like 2021 would end with no FCC action on the three mysterious entities requesting licenses under the umbrella of International Broadcasting, but likely involved in sending private messages to trading clients in Europe and Asia.

In fact there has been action, of a sort.

Two of those applicants are still waiting to receive construction permits. The third — Turms Tech, part of Turms Holdings, a subsidiary of Emcor Securities of New York — already has a construction permit and says it has built a 10 kW DRM station in New Jersey.

Turms requested callsign WIPE. It is so listed with the FCC. Turms has no license to operate this station. Yet.

The FCC is apparently not clear about whether Turms intends to use WIPE for conventional broadcasting — you know, the only type of transmission permitted under the FCC rules for such HF stations.

Turms originally told the FCC that it will engage in “broadcast and data services” and “broadcast of financial, economic news and data through distribution of programs generally prepared on the basis of requests by clients.”

Clear as mud. If broadcasting business news on shortwave to DRM receivers is profitable, you’d think that WTWW, WRMI, WBCQ, WWRB etc. would have discovered that years ago.

And what’s that about “data”? The FCC rules are plain that HFBC stations are for broadcasting to the public. There is no exemption to that requirement whether the broadcast is audio for listening or data for decoding.

So to clarify the issues, on Dec. 3, 2021 five FCC staff members asked WIPE’s consulting engineer if he could answer a few questions.

He couldn’t, at the time. Quoting from a record of that online meeting: “The information being sought was clarification of certain general non-technical items that will be possibly proposed by the pending shortwave operation. These type of items or clarifications are not normally items that this [engineering] firm would be knowledgeable.”

Presumably after consulting with his client Turms, he later provided FCC with these answers:

– – –

Q: Clarification is requested regarding the audio and data content of the general service to be provided, if known?

A: Airtime will be sold to anyone interested in broadcasting his contents. Editorial line will focus on contemporary topics, no religious or political contents. More specifically the target we’re looking for is global news and financial information, CNBC style programs.

Q: Will encryption be used in the transmitted signal?

A: No encryption will be used, this is a general broadcast.

Q. Will there be a contract for reception of the signal required?

A. No contract will be required for the reception.

Q. Will a DRM receiver be required for either or both the audio or the data?

A. A DRM receiver will be required for both audio and data.

Q. Will the proposed transmitter site receive other international HF signals to be rebroadcast on the intended operation?

A. No.

– – –

The FCC’s question about contract is especially pertinent, as the FCC considers broadcasting to require no contract between transmitting and receiving parties. A private data operation would involve such a contract, usually for some kind of subscription or other fee for service.

So what should we believe? WIPE will not engage in private data communications, but will instead pursue a sketchy business plan?

On December 23, 2021, RF engineer Alex Pilosov submitted a detailed objection — his second — to the TURMS application. According to Pilosov, “the directors and officers of TURMS do not claim any broadcasting experience, but certainly have substantial business experience, and are aware of the business of trading and data transmission.

“What TURMS claims,” he told the FCC, “is that a company without any experience in broadcasting decides to construct the first International Broadcast station in 20 years dedicated to ‘financial news’ programming, and ‘data broadcast to the general public,’ foregoing any subscription revenues, but somehow able to recoup the setup costs by broadcast operations alone.

“The second possibility, apparent from digging into the facts and associated entities, is that TURMS instead lacked candor in its filings, and that its application for ‘International Broadcast’ is merely a pretext for private data transmission business.”

If and when WIPE goes on the air — on 9.65, 11.850, 13.720 and 15.450 MHz — DRM monitoring by the SWL community should help establish the facts about any possible encrypted or otherwise non-public, non-broadcast emissions from this station.

Benn Kobb

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10 thoughts on “DRM Mystery: Benn shares the latest on Turms Tech Station WIPE

  1. TomL

    Original response mentioned preparing programs for “clients”. If subscriber clients are involved for a data stream, you would think the FCC could sniff this out. Half lies + half truths = a liar. There should be major penalties (like prison time) for lying but we seem to have forgotten the difference between right and wrong. Pushing the envelope of what one can get away with seems to be all the rage now.

  2. Joe P

    Not sure why the FCC would request the information it sought from the engineering firm and not the actual applicant. The engineering firm’s job is to build the signal. They’d have no involvement whatsoever in the programming end of things. And I doubt any professional engineering firm would build out the station with the knowledge that illegal activities were to take place on the signal. If they did, they’d likely have their reputation destroyed by the effort.

    This has to be a bogus engineering firm set up by the applicant to get the station on the air. I hope the truth comes out and someone “WIPE’s” the floor with them.

    1. SDT

      The FCC queried the engineering firm because that is the official listed contact. Had the contact been the applicant’s law firm, they would have contacted the lawyers.

      Cohen, Dippell & Everist is hardly a bogus outfit; they are likely Washington DC’s oldest broadcast engineering firm and probably one of the few with HF broadcast experience.

      The FCC International Bureau has never expressed anything publicly about use of the DRM data channel for non-broadcast purposes. Maybe they will. Obviously others have raised issues.

      1. alex p

        Agreed, the PE firm is well-respected and unlikely to be aware of shenanigans – and wouldn’t risk its reputation for one client.

        Regarding use of data channel for non-broadcast purposes: FCC hasn’t said anything about International Broadcast (“subpart H”), but that only means that it isn’t permitted. It is permitted for FM and AM by rule, see https://www.fcc.gov/media/radio/subcarriers-sca

        See page 3 of: https://licensing.fcc.gov/myibfs/download.do?attachment_key=6315321 for more details

        [full disclosure: I’m the author of objection in question, and am affiliated with competitor of TURMS. AMA]

  3. Mike T.

    Reading between the lines this DRM service to me is to enable “high frequency stock trading” not to be confused with the HF radio bands being used to convey the information. In recent years a large amount of time, effort, and dollars have been spent and continue to be spent gaining a stock price arbitrage between stock exchanges caused by network communication path time latency.

    How it works is if you can see what the price is at the other exchange before everyone else sees it through the normal communication networks a millisecond later you can profit from the price differences i.e. buy or sell the same stock before everyone else sees the future stock price. Some entities have laid their own fiber optic lines in a direct and shorter path between exchanges to do this. Now others are using RF transmission as it is faster than using fiber optic cables!

  4. Harald

    It wouldn´t be the first time that a company not experienced in the field of broadcasting thinks DRM is big business. Look at all the prototype DRM receivers that never made it to the market.

    1. Chris Todd

      Ah, Harald, you mean every single one of them?

      Here we are in 2022, and there is no way for any regular person to buy a DRM receiver that isn’t an 8x-overpriced prototype piece of junk. Nevermind the promise (and only path to DRM’s success) of mass-market priced receivers.

      DRM will forever remain a curiosity to tinkerers and enthusiasts until its last signal shuts off. Perhaps it will last a while longer in state funded areas like India, but if and only if the receiver problem truly gets solved. It’s been nearly 20 years and it hasn’t been, so I have zero faith the incompetent DRM consortium will solve anything any time soon.


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