There was a very interesting presentation by OFCOM at the HF Convention today regarding the current consultation they are running on the Amateur Radio Service.
It is very important that each and every one of us responds to this consultation individually. The RSGB response only counts as one comment, despite the fact that they represent a large number of Amateurs. As was said today, the RSGB cannot make a submission on your behalf this time, you have to do it yourself.
There have been only 300 responses so far from a pool of over 40,000 licences that could respond. There is just over 10 days left to make your views known and have them taken into account when the decisions are being made. The consultation ends on the 20th October.
Make no mistake, there is a lot at stake and so it is very important that you do take the time to read and study the consultation and make your comments accordingly. The review is complex and the RSGB will publish on their website by lunchtime tomorrow ( Monday 13th October) a guidance document explaining the issues and providing suggestions on how to respond. You are urged to check into the RSGB Website (whether you are a member or not) and read the information/guidelines there before clicking the link to the OFCOM consultation website.
The main issues from the responses so far are these, but you are encouraged to read the details on the RSGB website and OFCOM consultation website for the full picture.
1: RSL ( Regional Secondary Locators) The 2nd letter of your call ( eg the M of GM3WYW when I operate in Scotland). Currently this is Mandatory, but OFCOM are proposing that this become optional, so that even if my home station address was in Cardiff, I could use G3WYW when there, or GW3WYW when in England or Scotland. The use of the RSL would become optional and up to the licensee to manage. This would obviously make a mockery of DXCC, Contests and Award Schemes since there would no way of being sure that the station was operating from where they said they were. The message at the convention to OFCOM was “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”, but this message needs to be communicated to them by s_ubmitting a comment to the consultation.
2 :Frequency of Station Ident. OFCOM considers that station ID’s every 15 minutes is adequate, but in practice we ident at the start or end or both of a QSO. Common Sense should apply here, OFCOM has no intention of changing the way we identify now, but needs to have some clarity in the wording of the conditions.
3: The allocations of extra bands at 471KHz and 5MHz. bands carry additional requirements (in the associated footnotes) for Amateurs to be responsible for ensuring that their stations do not exceed RF exposure limits not only on these two additional bands, but on ALL bands that are licensed. This means that if we agree to these additional bands, then we could also be required to provide evidence that our stations are within RF exposure limits on all bands. You can probably imagine the can of worms that this could open. We want the extra bands but not the extra baggage that comes with them!
Another very strong point from OFCOM is that there is a large number of licences that have not been renewed. Only around 55% of licences have been renewed so far and OFCOM now has an obligation to start proceedings to revoke those licenses that have not renewed. There are of course lots of reasons why they may not have been renewed. The holder may now be a SK, moved or a lapsed amateur, but those who are active and just have not checked their licence information on the OFCOM website could find that their licenses revoked. Its not hard and OFCOM does provide help in retrieving you login information if forgotten or registering if you have not done so before.
The bottom line is that each and every one of us should take the time to check the RSGB and OFCOM websites and make a submission to the Consultation before it expires on the 20th October 2014 and also ensure that we have checked and updated our details on the OFCOM website for our Amateur Radio Licences at the same time if not already done so.
de Paul G3WYW