WIA Seeks Feedback on VK9 Callsigns
The WIA took over the management of callsigns only 4 weeks ago, and while it can only recommend policy to ACMA it is now seeking views from interested amateurs on the way that the VK9 callsigns for the Australia External Territories should be managed.
Michael Owen - VK3KI
WIA President Michael Owen VK3KI has written the "Comment" for the April Amateur Radio around the issues raised by the VK9 callsigns, and has also raised the same issue in the WIA’s weekly broadcast. Australia’s External Territories include some pretty interesting DX and include Cocos Island, Norfolk Island, Christmas Island, Mellish Reef and Willis Island. Any one holding a VK call may operate "portable" in VK9 in accordance with the Amateur LCD, and any amateur from anywhere in the world may operate for up to 90 days in VK9 under his or her home callsign in accordance with the Class Licence for overseas amateurs visiting Australia.
But that doesn’t stop many from wanting to operate under a VK9 callsign. There are probably two major ways in which VK9 callsigns are treated differently than other callsigns by ACMA. These are policies that the WIA is obliged to follow. However, that doesn’t stop the WIA from suggesting new policies. The first issue is whether there should be a geographical indicator incorporated in the callsign. Currently, ACMA says that "in most cases" the first or second letter after the VK9 is used to identify the territory or area, so C indicates Cocas Island and L indicates Lord Howe Island and so on.
The ACMA requirements can be found on the WIA website, in the document Australian Callsign Structure, part of the Callsigns and Certificates area. Several observations can be made. If one looks at the callsigns that have been allocated in the Call Book, it appears that this policy has not been adhered to – there seems to have been little consistency in adhering to that policy. In the broadcast the WIA President suggests atht may be the reason why the policy is expressed to be "in most cases"? Some have argued that the formula is pretty meaningless, and have struggled to find a better way, with the first letter after the VK9 becoming the geographic indicator.
So, given history, given the difficulty of finding a formula that works easily, is there any point in attempting to include a geographic indicator in the callsign in all cases or just most cases? If a geographical indicator is desired, how should this be done? Should there only be three letter calls allotted in VK9? Should a club or group mounting a DXpedition be allowed to use a group of letters that identify it, if it is available? Another issue is that ACMA says that licences with VK9 callsigns allocated to visiting amateurs will only be issued for the duration of their visit and will not be renewed. A quick look at the Call Book seems to indicate that hasn’t always been observed, either. Is there any point in that restriction?
So, the WIA is seeking views in relation to VK9 callsigns. Should they be treated any differently from any other callsign? If so, in what precise way? Please write to the WIA or email the WIA at firstname.lastname@example.org with your opinion.
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