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WIA Formal Consultation

Future Licence Conditions Consultation
Phase 2

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FOUNDATION LICENCE CONDITIONS

1/ Permitting use of digital modes
It is anachronistic in this era, when digital communications is the underlying infrastructure to daily life, that Foundation licensees are denied the opportunity to learn and experience for themselves the use and applications of digital communications. Entry-level licence conditions in a number of other countries have included digital modes and image transmissions since inception, without evidence of noteworthy issues or incidents reported.

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2/ Access to More Bands

Other major nations that have a similar entry-level licence provide access to many more bands throughout the spectrum than Australia’s Foundation licence. In particular, the UK, Argentina, and Japan. Enabling access to more bands provides a wider range of opportunities for Foundation licensees to learn and gain experience in communications across the radiofrequency spectrum. Access to more bands with other nations' entry-level licences has not proved a disincentive to upgrade, as other attractive conditions are balanced against band access.

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3/ Increased Power

A decade’s experience with the 10 W Foundation power limit has demonstrated that it is at a distinct disadvantage in today’s urban RF environment and Australia’s geography. The WIA advocates the power limit be increased to 50 W pX, and understands that this doesn't raise any particular safety issues regarding management of electromagnetic emissions. Should Foundation licensees gain access to bands above 70cm, the power limits need to be set at pragmatic levels for safety.

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4/ Relax the restriction to commercial rig use and enable limited DIY

Self-learning and experimentation are at the heart of the ITU definition of the Amateur Service. The WIA advocates relaxing the restriction to the use of commercially manufactured transceivers for Foundation operators. The objective here is to enable Foundation licensees to broaden their range of learning experiences and for their conditions to more closely match those applicable to like or similar entry-level licences overseas, in particular, in the UK.

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5/ Relaxation of permitted bandwidths

This is about accommodating the future and future technologies. In keeping with the principle of enabling licensees to explore the use of more transmission modes, whether past, current or yet to emerge, the WIA suggests that permitted bandwidths be reviewed so as to reduce prescriptive specifications where practicable.

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6/ Review of Foundation callsigns

The four-character suffix of the Australian Foundation licence callsign format is unique in the world for ordinary station callsigns. Despite a decade’s use, along with widespread promotion and education about the callsign format, recognition of it is low among the worldwide radio amateur community. It has proved a barrier when making DX contacts. Most off the available range of computer-mediated digital transmission modes cannot accommodate a four-character suffix callsign. If digital modes for Foundation operators are permitted, the callsigns must change. The WIA is committed to negotiating a new callsign format that is practical and meets regulatory requirements.

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STANDARD LICENCE CONDITIONS

1/ Access to more bands
The Standard licence’s permitted bands are quite restricted when viewed in the context of the intermediate level licences in other countries (eg. the UK, Argentina, Canada, and Japan), there is little evidence that permitting access to more bands would act as a disincentive to Standard licensees to upgrade to the Advanced licence. Having more bands across the spectrum (plus access to 50-52 MHz, particularly) provides a wider range of opportunities for licensees to learn and gain experience.

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2/ Relaxation of permitted bandwidths
Prescribing permitted bandwidths related to transmission modes locks-in past technologies and locks-out technologies that emerge in the future. The WIA seeks a relaxation of the permitted bandwidths relating to the Standard licence, where practicable, on identified bands below 1 GHz, and on all bands above 1 GHz, to allow the use of wideband digital and image transmission modes.

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3/ Increased Power
Across the world, there is wide disparity in permitted powers for intermediate level licences (as the various regulatory authorities assign them; they are not necessarily equivalent to the Australian Standard licence). The permitted power of 100 W pX for Standard licensees was a carryover from the former Novice licence. The WIA advocates that, for the future, a permitted power of 200 W pX would be a sensible, pragmatic provision for the Standard licence.

There is no extant evidence to suggest that the proposed 200 W pX power level creates any additional safety issues concerning managing compliance with electromagnetic emissions prevailing now.

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ADVANCED LICENCE CONDITIONS

1/ Improved frequency band access
Having frequency band allocations across the radiofrequency spectrum affords amateur operators maximum opportunities to explore, experiment and learn about technologies and techniques in radiocommunications – the principles central to the ITU definition of the Amateur Service. The WIA advocates earliest-possible release of the new band at 5.3 MHz, allocated by the ITU at the World Radio Conference 2015. In addition, in responding to the ACMA’s update of the Australian Radiofrequency Spectrum Plan, the WIA proposed (Link): Link

(a) Primary status for Amateurs on 50-52 MHz.
(b) A proposed secondary allocation at 70.0-70.5 MHz.
(c) A proposed secondary allocation within the 918-925 MHz ISM band.
(d) Extension of the 1800-1875 kHz band up to 2000 kHz.
(e) Extension of the 3776-3800 kHz DX Window above 3800 kHz.

In general, regarding access to new bands, are you ...


Regarding WIA advocacy for continued access to existing primary and secondary bands, are you ...

 

2/ Relaxation of permitted bandwidths
The WIA advocates relaxation of permitted bandwidths for Advanced licensees on all the amateur bands from 1.8 MHz to 430 MHz, with the aim of enabling the exploration and use of emerging and newly developed technologies. Future developments in technologies and applications are undefined and unknowable. The parallel development of software defined radio and sophisticated signal processing software has enjoyed significant uptake across the amateur radio community globally. While these developments generally exploit extant narrowband transmission bandwidths, future development will likely involve low spectral density transmissions of wider bandwidth, or dynamically variable bandwidths, able to co-exist with other transmissions in overlapping spectrum spaces while providing robust information exchange.

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3/ Increased Power
It is understood that the current maximum permitted power of 400 W pX / 120 W pY is generally accepted by many operators. However, a body of operators need the opportunity to explore and experiment with the use of higher powers, for a variety of applications. However, the WIA is mindful that, as the Apparatus LCD 2015 is in force, the nexus between electromagnetic emissions compliance and radiocommunications regulation remains and the ACMA is accountable in ensuring compliance

The WIA advocates raising the maximum permitted power to 1000 W pX, provided that an operator submits documentary evidence demonstrating that they have addressed compliance with the Apparatus LCD 2015. BALANCING FUTURE CONDITIONS The overall objective is to set future licence conditions that satisfy the requirements of regulation while providing attractive opportunities to future prospective amateurs and further opportunities to explore emerging technologies for existing operators, while balancing the conditions across the three licence grades to retain incentives to upgrade.

To reduce the regulatory workload on the ACMA, it is proposed that the WIA conduct an application and validation process on behalf of the ACMA and then make a recommendation to the ACMA. The approval for high power would then become part of the Advanced licensees’ individual licence conditions.

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BALANCING FUTURE CONDITIONS AND UPGRADE INCENTIVES

The overall objective is to set future licence conditions that satisfy the requirements of regulation while providing attractive opportunities to future prospective amateurs, further opportunities to explore emerging technologies for existing operators, along with balancing the conditions across the three licence grades to retain incentives to upgrade.

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