Foundations of Amateur Radio The Regulator From time to time our hobby changes. While the idea that we're all a bunch of old men playing with spark gap transmitters, or using strange noises to the annoyance of others, the reality of amateur radio is markedly different from that stereotype. The changes we experience come from many different sources. As amateurs we're always trying something new, inventing things and building stuff. That type of change is integral to the hobby and in many ways it's why our community exists in the first place. Other changes are external. A new product arrives into the marketplace and we gleefully take possession of a new gadget. That in turn creates other changes which are incorporated into our day to day life as amateurs. A more structured change happens when the regulator makes a proposal, instigates a new rule, enforces an old rule or does something else that affects us. In the time I've been an amateur, I've seen changes happen that originate from the regulator that both benefit and impede our activities. Things like the introduction of new bands, the trial of high power, but also the removal of frequencies, the restriction on modes and across the globe this happens in every single jurisdiction. For example, in Sweden the regulator proposed and then implemented a reduction in transmitter power, from 1 kW down to 200 Watt. I'm sure it made lots of noise in Sweden, but here in Australia there was hardly a squeak. In France proposals have been drafted to reallocate the 2m band to the Aeronautical Mobile Service, to be discussed as an agenda item at WRT 2023. The 2m band is a band that is widely used, often as the first band for most amateurs, a band that offers local communication, hosts local discussion nets, has many options of affordable equipment, uses small antennas commonly installed on vehicles. In Australia the regulator is looking at removing access to the 3.6 GHz band for specific areas and defining more precise access restrictions, removing emission mode and bandwidth restrictions and removing specific Foundation restrictions, such as the ability to build radios, connect radios to the Internet and use digital modes. The Australian regulator is also of the opinion that any station should be able to use 400 Watts, regardless of the license level, since it's unlikely to increase interference. Interestingly, the local representative bodies are at odds with this, since they appear to believe that we need multiple levels of licence, even though I've never actually heard a coherent argument to support that. There's more, but let's move on. What strikes me is that the benefits are celebrated and the impediments are bemoaned with hardly any thought expressed on how these changes happened and what brought them about. There are representations made by representative bodies, but most of that is at arms-length. We're a tiny community in the scheme of things, we always have been, but we have access to one of the richest resources available and we have a regulator who is required to consider our existence when new rules are made and old rules retired. In discussion with other amateurs I hear time and time again that making a submission is hard, it's a waste of time and takes too long. For me that makes no sense. The notion that our tiny community has no impact is not credible in the face of the evidence, so why is it that the idea of making submissions to the regulator is such a waste of time and so difficult? Why is it that we give up before we even start? What is it in our DNA that leaves these submissions to others and what is it that makes us think we're unworthy or unable or unheard of if we never even try. A submission doesn't have to be a book, it doesn't need to have more than one page. You can write a letter to your regulator that says: Hey, I'm an amateur, I'm affected by your proposal and I think the following. My point is this. If amateur radio is important to you, if it gives you joy, if it teaches you stuff, if it gives you a community, if it justifies buying gadgets, then why don't you express that to the regulator when they announce a request for consultation? What are you waiting for? Share your opinion, make your voice count, you can be part of the change. I'm Onno VK6FLAB This article is the transcript of the weekly 'Foundations of Amateur Radio' podcast, produced by Onno (VK6FLAB) Benschop who was licensed as radio amateur in Perth, Western Australia in 2010. For other episodes, visit http://vk6flab.com/. Feel free to get in touch directly via email: firstname.lastname@example.org If you'd like to join a weekly radio net for new and returning amateurs, check out the details at http://ftroop.vk6flab.com/, the net runs every week on Saturday, from 00:00 to 01:00 UTC on Echolink, IRLP, AllStar Link, Brandmeister and 2m FM via various repeaters, all are welcome.