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20170805 - License Class Review

posted Aug 4, 2017, 7:35 PM by Onno Benschop
Amateur News
On the 25th of July the following email was sent to the board of the WIA as a submission for advocating how we might evolve our license system in Australia. Attached to the email were the transcripts of three episodes of my weekly podcast, which are included here as a link to the published version.
Hello Justin,

There has been discussion about how licenses might evolve over time and at present there is push for adding extra power and digital modes to the Foundation License class.

I'm the holder of a Foundation License and I'd like to take this opportunity to express my views on the matter. I have previously published these as part of my weekly segment in the VK6 News which is also available as a podcast -

I'm attaching the two relevant episodes to this email for your consideration. I'd like to make the observation that - as I understand it - this is largely already implemented in the UK licensing system.

In summary:
  • Three classes of license: Low Power, Medium Power and High Power
  • All Modes and Bands for all classes
  • Progressive power limits related to Energy, rather than PEP, to account for the difference between 5 Watts at 160m and 5 Watts at 4mm and the EMR implications.
  • Incremental endorsements for Increased Power, such as EMR, High Voltage, Safety, etc.

Foundation Licensees have been accused of wanting something for nothing and I'd like to state that I'm personally perfectly happy with what I'm able to do with my Foundation License. I personally do not want more power, more access, or more technology, but I'm not likely to be representative of the wider audience.

I believe strongly that we currently have an incentive based licensing system that is without any scientific rigour, has no means to structure the evolving field of Amateur Radio and makes the answer to every question: "Just upgrade".

To give some meat to that argument, I'm as a Foundation trainee expected to understand, learn and use a DTMF tone-dialler which externally inputs audio into a microphone, but I'm forbidden from using a Digital Mode which essentially does the same. I'm allowed on 40m, but not on 20m. These bands have no specific differences, other than that our current licensing system prevents Foundation Licensees for operating on 20m.

I believe that artificially enumerating restrictions is counter-productive.

For example, the notion of the Internet is barely covered in the current system, SDR is completely absent and the idea that you can fundamentally change the operation of a radio without using a soldering iron is an anathema to lawmakers. This is an experimental hobby and we should be encouraging such experimentation, not limiting it.

An another example, I've aired my views on the use of an Iambic key by Foundation Licensees previously which drew the ire of those who chose to define a "keyboard" as something from the 1940's rather than 2005 when the document was written.

Please find attached for your consideration the two items I've produced recently about how I believe our licensing system should evolve and the item on the use of an Iambic key.

Kind regards,
Onno Benschop