Ham radio in the news
A quick summary of what is happening in amateur radio
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• WRC-12: The First Week - The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) 2012 World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-12) began January 23 in Geneva, Switzerland. This is a very important meeting if you are an Amateur Radio operator anywhere in the world.
Every 4 or 5 years a WRC takes place. The last one was in 2007. Approximately 3000 people are attending WRC-12. These are government officials, telecommunication industry people and others -- like the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) -- who have an interest in the use of the radio spectrum. The agenda items discussed during WRC-12 were established at the previous WRC in 2007.
The IARU, with an observer status at WRC-12, is represented by IARU President Tim Ellam, VE6SH, Vice-President Ole Garpestad, LA2RR, Region 2 President Reinaldo Leandro, YV5AM, IARU Secretary Rod Stafford, W6ROD, Ken Pulfer, VE3PU and Dave Sumner, K1ZZ. ARRL Technical Relations Specialist Jon Siverling, WB3ERA is on the CITEL delegation.
There are a number of agenda items for WRC-12 that have some impact on Amateur Radio, immediately or sometime in the future. Each of the agenda items is assigned to a committee and also sub-working groups. The most important to the ham community is:
Agenda Item 1.23: In 2007, the agenda item was stated as follows: "To consider an allocation of about 15 kHz in parts of the band 415-526.5 kHz to the Amateur Service on a secondary basis, taking into account the need to protect existing services."
Brennan Price, N4QX, ARRL Chief Technical Officer and a member of the US delegation was elected as chairman of Sub Working Group 4C3, which will be dealing with agenda item 1.23 on a secondary amateur allocation around 500 kHz.
There are a number of suggested ways to satisfy this agenda item that are being discussed at the WRC: 1) A secondary allocation of up to 15 kHz to the Amateur Radio Service on a worldwide basis between 472-487 kHz. 2) Two non-contiguous worldwide secondary allocations to the Amateur Radio Service at 461-469 kHz and 471-478 kHz, totaling 15 kHz. 3) A CEPT proposal for a worldwide secondary allocation of 8 KHz from 472-480 kHz. 4) No change.
It appears from the first several days of committee meetings that many of the member states attending the WRC are in favor of granting the Amateur Radio Service an allocation, but the details remain to be established. The member states that are in favor of No Change (NOC) have stated that they are primarily concerned with possible interference to Non-Direction Beacons that currently operate in the spectrum under consideration. It is still early in the process to determine if the Amateur Service will succeed in gaining an allocation in this portion of the spectrum.
• Watch 4U1ITU -- as 4U1WRC -- Live on the Internet - Station personnel at 4U1ITU -- the Amateur Radio station at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in Geneva, Switzerland -- have installed a webcam in the station, allowing anyone with an Internet connection to view live happenings at the station.
4U1ITU will be signing as 4U1WRC during the 2012 World Radio Communication Conference (WRC-12), which runs through February 17. The station will revert back to 4U1ITU just in time for the ARRL International DX CW Contest, scheduled for February 18-19.
The station has two operating positions capable of going on any two bands at the same time. "A number of delegates are active amateurs, so the station should be quite active for the next several weeks," he said. Amateurs who work 4U1WRC between January 23-February 17, 2012 can receive a special QSL card via the HB9 Bureau or by QSLing direct to IARC, PO Box 6, CH-1211 Geneva 20, Switzerland.
• London 2012: Olympics to create 'record' wireless spectrum demand - About 26,000 members of the press are expected to cover the Olympic and Paralympic Games. The London Olympic and Paralympic Games are likely to require up to 20,000 separate wireless frequency assignments, according to the British communications regulator Ofcom.
The organization says that is nearly double the number of licenses that it granted for the city over the course of last year. The body says that new broadcast technologies are helping drive demand. Ofcom plans to finalize its Spectrum Olympics Plan by early February. The regulator says it approved 12,505 applications in 2011.
It has already received 10,000 requests covering the seven-week period of the Games, but expects that number to rise thanks to the event being "the biggest media event in history". Ofcom says demand will come from a variety of sources:
-- Wireless television cameras used to provide close-up shots of the competitors,
-- Wireless microphones offering broadcasters a range of sound sources,
-- Location, timing and scoring technologies,
-- Sports commentaries offered to spectators, and
-- Communications systems for broadcasters, security personnel and the emergency services.
Ofcom says it has been working on a plan to provide the required capacity since 2006. It involves borrowing spectrum from the Ministry of Defense, portions of the 70cm Amateur Radio band, and making use of spectrum freed up by the switch-off of analog TV signals.
• Cuban Amateur Radio regulations modified - Cuban amateur radio service regulations have been modified to provide the use of segments of the 80 and 40 meter ham bands to the third class operators license holders, that before these new rules could only operate on segments of the 160 and 2 meter bands. The news was much welcomed by the more than two thousand operators that hold a CL prefix callsign... the first step in a Cuban radio amateur career...
The CL prefix holders do not need to pass a CW Morse Code radiotelegraphy test, but they do have to take a 5 words per minute receiving and also transmitting test in order to upgrade towards a second class operators certificate that opens the way to obtain a CM prefix callsign, that provides access to many more operating privileges...
So, if you start hearing stations on the 40 meter band from 7100 to 7125 kiloHertz using a CL prefix, be aware that they are a new generation of Cuban radio amateurs that for the first time ever are having access to working DX on 40 meters...
• ARRL Board Welcomes Rick Niswander, K7GM, as New Treasurer - When ARRL Treasurer Jim McCobb, K1LU, announced last year that he would retire after more than three decades of volunteer service to the ARRL, ARRL President Kay Craigie, N3KN, appointed a search committee to find a suitable replacement. The committee received many resumes from League members, and after interviewing several applicants, selected Rick Niswander, K7GM, of Greenville, North Carolina. At the 2012 ARRL Annual Meeting, Niswander was elected by the Board of Directors as the sixth Treasurer of the ARRL.
Niswander -- an ARRL Life Member -- has been the Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance for East Carolina University since 2010, where he is the senior executive responsible for all financial, administrative, and operational activities at the university. Prior to that appointment, he served as ECU's Assistant Dean for Graduate Programs and Dean of its College of Business.
He is also a Professor of Accounting at the university. Niswander and the Executive Treasurer for the ECU Foundation, the ECU Medical Foundation, the ECU Alumni Association and the Pirate Club. A Certified Public Accountant since 1981, he holds a BBA in Accounting from Idaho State University and a PhD in Accounting from Texas A&M University.
• FCC Grants Special Temporary Authority for Amateur Spread Spectrum Experiments - Phil Williams, KA1GMN, has been granted a Special Temporary Authority (STA) by the Federal Communications Commission to conduct Spread Spectrum experiments within 2.5 kHz signal bandwidths on 160 through 2 meters, at a maximum of 100 W effective radiated power. The six month authorization takes effect February 1 and expires on July 31. The FCC has assigned Williams the call sign WF9XJD for use during his experimental transmissions.