The expiring Australian Licence Condition Determination (LCD) for the Amateur Service is an excellent opportunity to re-think how to regulate its existence now, and in the future.
Ending in October 2015, the Amateur LCD needs replacement so the Amateur / Ham Radio Service can continue. It includes how Australia's three licence grades operate, their frequency bands, modes and maximum permitted powers.
The WIA board of directors has identified several issues for evaluation and invites all to have input on them and any related LCD matter, before it makes a final submission next year.
The WIA says many of the current LCD provisions have been outdated by technology and practice. It wants the LCD to be better aligned with international standards, able to adapt to emerging technologies, and reduce unnecessary regulatory burdens.
It takes a holistic view to make sure all radio amateurs now, and where possible in the future, enjoy the hobby and bring some benefit to the community.
According to the WIA, the new Amateur LCD must include references to the Electro-Magnetic Emission (EME) requirements for all in the Amateur Service, to support other awareness and compliance action.
The WIA wants no limit on experimentation to allow flexibility in communications technologies and applications, and for it to remain a self-regulating service with no reduction or downgrading from the current Apparatus Licence principles.
The WIA review covers all licence grades. For the highest or Advanced Licence it seeks a relaxation of permitted bandwidths on 1.8 MHz to 430 MHz to enable emerging and newly developed technologies.
In line with greater awareness and compliance with the EME requirements, the WIA seeks that the Advanced Licence be given a power limit of up to 1000w pX, as a right without a permit. Several microwave allocations are also to be sought.
The WIA will seek to raise the Standard Licence conditions to better match similar intermediate licence grades in other countries. That includes allowing up to 200w pX instead of the former Novice Licence carry-over power of 100w pX.
It is looking at increasing the Standard Licence access to a number of bands between 1.8 MHz and 28 MHz, and particularly access to the lower part of 6-metres at 50-52 MHz.
The WIA seeks a relaxation of the permitted bandwidths relating to the Standard licence on all bands over 1 GHz, to allow the use of wideband digital and image transmission modes by that licence.
For the entry level Foundation Licence, the WIA will seek to add digital modes, commercially made transmitter kits, conversion of non-amateur transceivers to ham bands, unattended operation and remote control.
An increase of power level to 25 watts pX is advocated because of the tyranny of distance of Australia, the noisy urban environment, and that more available transceivers are routinely fitted with the higher power.
The WIA also notes the Foundation Licence permitted bands are quite restricted when viewed in the context of other entry level licences across the world.
The WIA also will seek access to the 5 MHz band, subject to the World Radio Conference 2015 preferably at least enabling overseas contact, a primary allocation 50-52 MHz and consideration of 70 MHz access overlapping other countries.