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Amateur Licence Conditions – latest moves

Date : 27 / 12 / 2015
Author : Roger Harrison - VK2ZRH

The WIA is responding to a request by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to update the initial submission on the amateur licence conditions put to it last year. As reported earlier, the ACMA took a stop-gap approach to the old 2012 Licence Conditions, with minor administrative amendments to re-make the LCD for 2015 before it expired on 1st October.

Kindly, the ACMA advised the WIA that that's what they were doing because there was no time for them to go through their statutory processes to re-make the Licence Conditions along the lines the WIA had suggested. Lots of other regulations were also rolled over before they expired, so the ACMA had on a lot of work during the past year. All of this, and having to grapple with the Government's Spectrum Reform program, too.

Don't forget that the Australian Radiofrequency Spectrum Plan will be necessarily updated following the outcomes of the World Radiocommunications Conference 2015, which concluded at the end of November.

In addressing the re-make of the Amateur Licence Conditions, the WIA is seeking changes and development across the board for all licence grades. Being sought are new bands at 5 MHz, 70 MHz and 900 MHz. WRC-15 agreed on a 15 kHz-wide band at 5 MHz for worldwide allocation. Unfortunately, in Australia, that's heavily used by existing services – which is not news. However, some use of spectrum at 5 MHz might be possible somewhere down the track so the issue remains on the agenda.

Use of the spectrum around 70 MHz (4m) has declined markedly and few licensees remain. The WIA is seeking a small band that aligns with allocations in other regions.

There is a LIPD (low interference potential device) band at 900 MHz and our neighbours across the ditch in New Zealand have such an allocation. Some good things could be done if Australian licensees were able to experiment in this part of the spectrum.

Apart from that, the WIA is advocating for more spectrum at 160 metres and 80 metres, as usage and demand from other services continues to decline.

And then there is six metres. The WIA is asking for continued use of 50 to 52 MHz, preferably on a better basis than a secondary service, as analogue television in 45 to 52 MHz has joined the Tasmanian Tiger in extinction and no new services have publicly stamped a claim or interest in that 7 MHz of spectrum.

For Foundation Licensees, the WIA is seeking more bands – including some microwave bands, more permitted modes and more power, plus permission to build kits. It’s time we kept up with the world. Only Malaysia has a more restricted entry level licence.

Not forgetting the Standard Licence, the WIA is asking for conditions that better match similar licence grades in other countries – Canada and Japan, for example.

To maximise opportunities for experimentation for Advanced licensees, the WIA is asking for the relaxation of permitted bandwidths on the amateur bands from 1.8 MHz through 430 MHz, with the express aim of enabling the exploration and use of emerging and newly developed technologies – including those not yet invented.

Another thing close to the hearts of many Advanced licensees is more power. The WIA is advocating permission for one kilowatt, with the least strings attached. Most of our near neighbour nations allow 1000 or 1500 watts, while most major nations in Region 1 permit 1000 to 1500 watts and major Region 2 nations 1000 to 1500 watts, or more.

The WIA submission to the ACMA follows input from members and the amateur community over several years. Advocacy, education, and support – the WIA’s mission in seeking to improve conditions for the Australian radio amateur community.


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