Let me propose an idea for the amateur radio licensing system, and please do try to keep an open mind for the suggestions that are listed:
1. Deregulate the amateur bands, surprising to some this has already been successfully implemented in Sweden, where licensing is kept at a minimum and their radio regulation equivelent of Ofcom take no interest or involvement in regards to to amateur licensing, instead it is the responsibility of the Amateur Radio organisations to both manage the amateur spectrum and administrate tests. This will have the positive impact of less beaurocracy and more synthesis between the radio amateurs and the test material that is published.
2. A new licence should be introduced which does not require a formal test. This could be known as an “operator” licence and would sit underneath the foundation in terms of privelege. Band access would be limited to the vhf/uhf bands and perhaps certain HF bands. Allow only the use of CE equipment to alleviate safety and spectral purity concerns regarding homebrew equipment. This would prove popular amongst those who wish to only use their equipment to communicate and either lack the knowledge of technical understanding or do not desire it for their purposes of communication. I believe that the argument of health and safety is void in this age of Baofengs where for £35, any unlicensed individual may acquire a radio and cause the same amount of unintended disruption as a licensed individual would. Therefore the level of risk by introducing a testless license would not be negligible.
Licensing could be administered in the same way as a Fishing Licence, a fee would be deposited with an application form for a yearly licence and an operator guide would be received in return of a list of bands where operation is permitted. I strongly believe that those who take an interest in radio would be more likely to follow said guidelines than an uninformed person ordering a baofeng as “High power” walkie talkie solution.
This would serve as an incentive for Ofcom who would bring in additional licence fees, and allow those who wish to use amateur radio without the technical baggage that is not required in the modern age for many amateurs.
3. The stigma around CB radio to be eradicated from amateur radio, whilst many 11m operators choose to become amateurs, there still seems to be permeating stigma where some of the old timers resent and poke fun at 11m alongside use of other bands. This creates unnecsessary conflict and division. I do understand and emphasise that some amateurs feel that the hobby has had its technical standards lowered over time, and this has changed the appearance of those who choose to participate in the hobby from purely a tehcnical pursuit to something more akin to 11m. However this has also had the effect of making the hobby more accessible to all with a lower barrier of entry, and more amateurs existing on the air, whilst their technical knowledge may not be on par with an experienced engineer, I do not think this is necessary to maintain a healthly community.
Equipment has become easier to use and more accessible in this modern age, if the amateur community wish to bring in more people to the hobby, deregulation and evolution is a welcome necessasity.
2 thoughts on “Amateur radio, is it time for evolution?”
I like the idea, BUT who is going to be monitoring these stations, at the moment OFCOM does not have the resources to do this, or do they?
Will they be able to control these stations? And they could simply TX on any band and with no power (W) restrictions.
I don’t think they have the resources, it would have to be self policing. Perhaps only 2m and 70cm for the operator license concept.