The RSGB Expresses Concerns for the Future Direction of the Amateur Service in the UK
Following an invitation from the Board of Ofcom, a delegation from the RSGB led by the President, Jeff Smith, MI0AEX, meet the Vice Chairman of Ofcom, Richard Hooper, and Ofcom's Operations Director Vic Brasco to discuss the future direction of amateur radio licensing.
Chris Jones - VK2ZDD
The RSGB is strongly opposed to any steps that Ofcom may take to bring deregulation on to the agenda and will fight hard to maintain the status of radio amateurs and the privileges they currently enjoy. "The RSGB is strongly opposed to any steps that Ofcom may take to bring deregulation onto the agenda and will fight hard to maintain the status of radio amateurs and the privileges they currently enjoy," the Society said in a news release. The RSGB fears that Ofcom is planning to propose a free lifetime license for radio amateurs to entice them into accepting general deregulation down the road.
Any move in the direction of a free lifetime license, RSGB maintains, is a step in the direction of deregulation. "It is vital that we stop any attempts to deregulate the hobby; therefore, we must oppose any movement toward a license for life," the Society said.
As a result of its initial contacts with Ofcom on the issue, the RSGB reports, the Ofcom Board has backed away from immediate publication of a "consultation document"--essentially a request for comments leading up to a full-blown rule making proposal--and sent it back for revaluation.
The RSGB said that over the course of dealing with Ofcom during the past several months, it "began to realize that the intended preference was to tempt amateurs with a free license for life and then after a few years completely deregulate our hobby." In a "briefing note" entitled "The Future of Amateur Radio Licensing," the Society argues that deregulation would disenfranchise all amateurs and remove the need for examinations or licenses to operate on the amateur bands. It further asserts that deregulation could mean UK amateurs no longer would allowed to operate from, or have licensing reciprocity with other countries.
"Deregulation would mean the end of band plans and a free-for-all on the bands," the RSGB's briefing note declared, adding that the Society is not prepared to see Amateur Radio destroyed. "These are not empty threats on the future of Amateur Radio," the RSGB document emphasizes. "They are real, and they must be robustly opposed by the Amateur Radio community."
RSGB General Manager Peter Kirby, G0TWW, said in a message circulated this week to the UK amateur community that he does not want the Society to be seen as scaremongering. "I want the facts to be put forward," he said. "The clues are there for amateurs to decide if we are scaremongering or not." He invited UK amateurs to "engage in debate" on the issue.
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