Is Ham Radio in Australia on the Decline?

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio News' started by VK7HH, Jun 21, 2021.

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  1. US7IGN

    US7IGN Ham Member QRZ Page

    Those who start wars usually do not personally participate in them. But when the war came to me, no one asked me. As it turned out, the war is much closer than many people think. The main thing is to be ready for it. I took my children out of the war zone, but who knows how and when it all ends and for whom it will end.

    The military has been using the entire radio frequency resource for a long time, but few know this. It's just that their over-the-horizon radar technology or FHSS not everyone can identify.

    My friend, I just wish you never knew what a real war is, when shells arrive and parts of houses and people scatter tens of meters around ... When you can't get away from this because everything around is mined and you just will be shot at the nearest checkpoint ...

    But as a radio amateur, you have a better chance of survival, because the value of information in critical situations increases. And you have a receiver and knowledge of where and who to listen to ...
    VK6APZ, G0KDT, KA0HCP and 1 other person like this.
  2. SM0AOM

    SM0AOM Ham Member QRZ Page

    This is the very reason why wars in their modern form exist.

    Those that gain money and power from wars send people that cannot say 'no' to the front lines. It is far more convenient to let some faceless poor bugger that you never have seen or spoken to, to die in the trenches.

    I believe that singer-songwriter Malvina Reynolds put it quite succinctly in her 1960s song "A Short History of Warfare"

    "But when the wars got dirty,
    With cannon balls and stuff,
    With slagging thro the rice paddies and really playing rough,
    With ak ak and machine guns, grenades and all like that,
    The nobles gave the fighting to the proletariat.

    Of armour there was little,
    Of chain mail there was none,
    The dog-face met the bullets with his open flesh and bone,
    The big shots stay and run the wars,
    Get richer all the time, and the one who gets the glory,
    Posthumously but surely,
    Is the soldier of the line."

    This aside, it quite clear that WW2, and especially the Allied victory, made amateur radio in its currently recognisable forms possible. Without WW2, or with an Allied defeat, the landscape would look much different.

    Let us make a contrafactual thought experiment with WW2 not breaking out in 1939 in Europe and Japan does not attack Pearl Harbor in 1941.

    This narrative would rely on many assumptions;
    • The economy of Germany does not implode, and a civil war or military coup does not break out
    • Grossdeutschland expands and gains support from neighbours and vassal states
    • The von Ribbentrop-Molotov non-aggression pact still holds
    • Japan expands in the Far East
    • The ITU still exists
    • The FCC is still reasonably supportive of amateur radio
    • Chamberlain survives his cancer and continues as Prime Minister of the UK, or is succeeded by Lord Halifax
    • Major European actors such as the UK and France continue as at least nominal democracies
    In the same context, we also have to examine the potential state of amateur radio globally. It was only in the US and to some extent Canada where amateur radio was reasonably safe from attacks from coming spectrum demands. In most other countries amateur radio had "barely tolerated" status, and at the 1938 Cairo ITU conference several proposals for severely curtailing amateur privileges were on the table. Many dictatorships,and some democracies, were suspicious of letting radio amateurs actually using the airwaves, but also were somewhat supportive of radio experimentation. A few countries proposed amateur radio to be confined to "artificial antennas" or dummy loads, and the power limited. The UK "Artificial Aerial Licence" were the templates for these proposals.

    Let us now consider a new ITU Conference in, say, 1946 without a war in between.

    The composition of participants would on the surface look similar to 1938, but the fraction of dictatorships would have increased, and with that their weight in decisions.

    It is reasonable to expect that the broadcast propaganda war would have been intense, and that FM broadcast and VHF television would have been introduced on a wider scale in the industrialised world.

    Fixed HF links between the continents would still accommodate the majority of the international telephone and telegraph traffic.

    Shipping and commercial aviation will also demand larger shares of the spectrum.

    All this would fill the then available HF and lower VHF spectrum to the brim, especially considering that the radio state-of-the-art would not be as advanced.

    Now looking more closely at the participants in this ITU conference, perhaps in Berlin, or "Welthauptstadt Germania".

    Germany, as the leading power in continental "Deutsche Neuropa" will have a major influence of the agenda.
    She will be backed by other Fascist dictatorships and vassal states.
    • Greater Germany, with annexed Czechoslovakia, Austria and possibly half of Poland
    • Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, parts of Yugoslavia
    • Italy and colonies
    • Spain
    • Portugal
    • Japan with annexed parts of China and other Far East territories
    Other European countries friendly to Grossdeutschland in 1946 could include;
    • Denmark, Norway, Sweden and most likely Finland
    • Holland and Belgium
    • The Baltic states
    • Ireland
    • Greece
    The attendance list from this ring-corned would have striking similarities to the list from the continuation of the Anti-Comintern pact in November 1941.

    On the other corner of the "boxing ring" the English-speaking countries would line up;

    • United States with possessions
    • British Empire with colonies and possessions
    • Australia and New Zealand
    • South Africa (maybe)
    • A few Central and Latin American countries that could be considered as US vassal states or highly influenced
    • France with colonies (maybe)
    It is quite likely that the US would have taken a very regional and isolationist stance at a 1946 ITU conference, perhaps even more so if Roosevelt had been defeated in the 1940 election.

    Then the position of the USSR has to be considered. A tense armed neutrality between the USSR and Grossdeutschland has to be assumed. The USSR may support one side or the other, or maybe not show up at all. There was some Party support for amateur radio, but if all bands were clogged up with propaganda broadcasts, how could amateur radio be accommodated? Perhaps only on a purely national level.

    The outcomes?

    Likely a massive re-write of the 1938 Cairo Regulations, with spectrum allocations strongly favouring broadcast, fixed and commercial mobile allocations all the way up to perhaps 300 MHz. The US might have reserved its position on issues that were local to Region 2, and continued allowing amateur radio in a reduced spectrum space nationally or regionally.

    In Europe, support for amateur radio could be foreseen to be weak. Perhaps the UK and France might have spoken up in support, depending on how much they felt safe to annoy the Germans.

    "Deutsche Neuropa" might have permitted amateur radio using low power in very limited spectrum slices, subject to Gleichschaltung and in the regimes of the Hitlerjugend or Kraft durch Freude organisations or their national equivalents.

    In Asia and Oceania, amateur radio in the Japanese controlled territories would likely have been curtailed to the German levels, if allowed at all.

    Australia, New Zealand and parts of Latin America may have permitted amateur radio on the same regional or national basis as the US.

    To sum up, 1946 international amateur radio would look very different, if permitted at all on an international scale.

    The bands would have been much narrower and fewer, and the allowed power levels much lower.

    Last edited: Jul 2, 2021
  3. G0KDT

    G0KDT Ham Member QRZ Page

    Aside from my typo, which should have said 'take long look inwardly' I feel my answer is the same.

    More importantly I think my answer was generic to all countries or states. It is also far wider than amateur radio extending into many branches of science and society.

    All we can do is do our best to think long term and to help others where we have the skills and can do it.
    US7IGN likes this.
  4. US7IGN

    US7IGN Ham Member QRZ Page

    You could write cool post-apocalyptic books)
  5. PU2OZT

    PU2OZT Ham Member QRZ Page

    As to the Colonies, its their outcome that would have been drastically different. Indochine, Afrika... how would have today's World been shaped into? Surely, radio everywhere there!

    RFI would still mean Radio-France International.
    And I think France could have easily leaned towards Germania if too much pressure had been applied on the red side by its Soviets lovers.

    So, maybe, a Civil War in France could start WWII, albeit differently.

  6. SM0AOM

    SM0AOM Ham Member QRZ Page

    Certainly, there was a quite strong Fascist movement in France, as in many other European countries.

    In 1937 the Cagoule group planned to overthrow the Blum government and install a Fascist junta, modelled after Mussolinis overthrow of the Italian goverment in 1922, but misjudged the support of the Armed Forces.

    My narrative was simply built on studies and extrapolation of what was presented at the 1938 Cairo ITU conference, taking the predicted habits of the various countries into account.

    It appears that only the English-speaking countries and their allies recognised the utility of radio amateurs in their Armed Forces and in radio industry. Axis powers did not utilise their radio amateurs very much in supporting roles. It took long before they realised that the Allies used amateur skills to their advantage, despite letting a few German amateurs operate almost through the war, and keeping the national society DASD functional.

    When it finally dawned on the German leadership that radio amateurs had contributed to the Allied cause, it was already Autumn 1944, and too late to change the direction.

    The president of the DASD Obergruppenführer-SS dr Ernst Sachs wrote a now famous letter to his "boss" Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler where he outlined the reasons behind the Allied success. original.pdf

    Instead German amateurs were drafted and sent to the Eastern Front and many never came back.

    Ernst Sachs had been a higher-management person in the Department of the Interior and the Reichspost radio department, and was one of the attendees of the Cairo conference. He succeeded the retired Admiral Heinrich Gebhardt as president of the DASD in 1940 by appointment of Minister of Propaganda, dr Goebbels.

    Amateur radio was considered as one of the propaganda tools for the regime.


    How a German radio amateur could look in 1930.

    Finally, something about the real utility of radio amateurs
    in crisis situation. Some time ago, I was pointed at a Youtube channel by a Swedish radio amateur that also is active in the Home Guard communications as an instructor. He states that today's radio amateurs usually are quite good at making contact and exchange signal reports, but fail miserably when they actually are required to get a third-party message through.

    This is in line with my own observations, and can be attributed to lack of training and routine. Message handling requires discipline, accuracy and a "flair" for team-work. Many amateurs are "loners", cannot follow instructions or orders and like to hear the sound of their own voices, none of which are the marks of good message handlers.

    PU2OZT likes this.
  7. US7IGN

    US7IGN Ham Member QRZ Page

    Ha! Indeed, it is impossible to compare the level of the one who spits on the HT and the one who receive thousands of numbers a day without the right to make a mistake)

    VK3UA likes this.
  8. KA0HCP

    KA0HCP XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    This has always been true. However, necessity is the mother of skills. In todays world there is very little need for hams to be experienced in message handling. shrug.
    PU2OZT likes this.
  9. G0KDT

    G0KDT Ham Member QRZ Page

    As in the age old story that ended with 'Bring three and four pence, we're going to a dance.'

    Can we lighten things up please?
    W0PV likes this.
  10. W0PV

    W0PV Ham Member QRZ Page

    This article by another historian reiterates some of the previous comments about German amateurs during WWII, but adds a social perspective.

    Nazis pressed ham radio hobbyists to serve the Third Reich – but surviving came at a price


    Clearly, if the onus of "what have you done for me lately" and "the greater good" are to be the only criteria strictly applied, politically the future of Amateur Radio (and other things) is in dire jeopardy.

    But the article also underscores the case that for many being a radio amateur under such oppressively regimented conditions was not attractive nor acceptable for other than technical reasons.

    Which leads to also imagining a movement building upon lesser technical and more cultural reasons as the basis for why and how Amateur Radio is to be conserved, as are all those many other anachronistic endeavors presented earlier, such as pleasure boating, recreational aviation, national parks, etc.

    WWII was fought and won not just by many radio amateurs, but FOR the individual freedoms that enable it. That memory may be fading under new pressures, but the spirit is indomitable.
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2021
    G0KDT, N0TZU and US7IGN like this.

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