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 Consultation: Updating the amateur radio licensing framework

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PostSubject: Consultation: Updating the amateur radio licensing framework   Consultation: Updating the amateur radio licensing framework Icon_minitimeFri Jun 23, 2023 7:47 pm

Some of you may have already seen this, but for those of you that haven't, Ofcom have started a consultation today to the ham radio licencing framework. Please follow the link below to their consultation page. There you will find a link to a pdf document with full details of their proposals and a link to a response form.

Once you have read through, do let your thoughts be known here. I am sure there will be proposals that some amateurs will be loving, but possibly some that others may not. I've read through very quickly, I'll let me thoughts be known at a later date. There's a couple of months before the consultation is completed so no rush to respond to them just yet.

https://www.ofcom.org.uk/consultations-and-statements/category-2/updating-amateur-radio-licensing-framework

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PostSubject: Re: Consultation: Updating the amateur radio licensing framework   Consultation: Updating the amateur radio licensing framework Icon_minitimeSat Jun 24, 2023 7:06 am

Hi Neal,

Firstly, thanks for posting on what could become fairly significant changes to the Amateur Radio fraternity at large.

I first heard about this after an emailing from Essex Ham along with a survey which when completed found myself on the Ofcom site to download the mentioned document. It is worth it to download the document and read it for oneself than rely on word from third parties where facts often become skewed.

I must say that I welcome the changes proposed finding them all positive in updating as well as improving the Amateur Radio hobby. 

Long have the full licence holders bemoaned that our power limits aren't inline with the European Continent and the proposed 1kW limit will be welcome to them. Suitable updates for the power limits at other licence levels will also be very welcome by others. I know that the 100W limit at Intermediate along with the suggested M8/M9 call sign prefix does have me seriously considering  moving on from my happily obtained Foundation.

To clarify the requirements of Foundation holders in being able to construct their own electronic transmission systems or projects is also a sensible one inline with many Radio Amateur licences around the world. The current licencing system would never qualify someone in actually being able to construct such items but only to give them 'permission' to do. This would be a great change for those with an electronics background such as myself but also promote those with such an interest to take it further even if just in the construction of kits. Suggestions always arise of the spectrum being run amok by such notions but usually by those with very little or no electronics knowledge or confounded by those that think they do. From constructing a simple CW transmitter to get on air to being able to repair transceivers (which requires knowledge way beyond licence requirements) is a welcome change. This should help those with such knowledge to progress unhindered but also promote those who wish to aspire to such interests in the Amateur Radio hobby.

The various other changes mentioned also offer to help and promote the hobby immensely. 
From ridding ourselves of the 'MM' or maritime mobile nonsense that occurs bemoaning certain licence level holders using a handheld transceiver aboard a ferry, to the proposed supervisory role that can be played by licence holders to promote the hobby for those who are not, it is all very welcoming and a positive step. Even the simplified NoV or notice of variation process would help promote the hobby immensely with national events we have experienced in recent years to popular activities such as youths on the air or YOTA.

There are many more great recommendations within the documents proposal and I must say all of them are very well thought out and actually take into consideration the needs as well as requests from members of the Amateur Radio community at large. I hope the proposals continue unabated with the only contention I can see happening is from some of the 'old guard' who else might just be sweetened with that 1kW proposal. Wink


Always interesting times when changes are afoot, but I believe Ofcom are doing their very best to keep our hobby very much alive and well.

Cheers Neal, gave me food for an unusual for me 'waffle'. 

Be great to hear what others think.


All the best,
Victor

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PostSubject: Re: Consultation: Updating the amateur radio licensing framework   Consultation: Updating the amateur radio licensing framework Icon_minitimeSun Jun 25, 2023 5:38 am

I mentioned in my posting that I had heard about these changes via an emailing from Essex Ham.

Helpfully, Pete and the gang have released a video giving brief details of the changes along with an online survey link.

This can be found at :-

https://www.essexham.co.uk/ofcom-2023-consultation.html


Being always grateful to those that promote the Amateur Radio hobby and ably assist radio enthusiasts with their interests I would like to thank all involved with these proposed improvements.

All the best,
Victor

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PostSubject: Re: Consultation: Updating the amateur radio licensing framework   Consultation: Updating the amateur radio licensing framework Icon_minitimeSun Jun 25, 2023 7:32 am

Thank you Victor for posting your comments and for the link to the Essex Ham video.

Though I have  thoroughly read through Ofcom's detailed doc twice now and also watched he video, I am  still mulling over some of it before giving any detailed comment. Generally though it appears the framework has been well thought out and the changes are for the good.

Just a couple of points for now, One:
I am wondering, if these changes go ahead, if fewer people will work to obtain the Intermediate and Full licences. The increased transmit power gains aside, there are less incentives to work to the next levels. As they stand currently, with no interest in power, I could see a personal benefit of obtaining Full (being allowed to remote operate my home station from my work place over the internet) and a hobby benefit (I could demonstrate / supervise newcomers... Cubs, Brownies, Cadets etc), but as I read it, if the proposals go through I could do this at Foundation level. That's awesome for the great Foundation operators out there, but can anyone see the same as me and think it might stifle some advancement?

Two:
Will the transmit power allowed still be at the antenna point, or at the transceiver (as per some other countries like the US)? I can't see any changes in the text to say there will be a change.

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PostSubject: Re: Consultation: Updating the amateur radio licensing framework   Consultation: Updating the amateur radio licensing framework Icon_minitimeSun Jun 25, 2023 11:15 am

Sounds like you've been picking up a bit of the old Ham Radio 'club' mentality there Neal. Wink

Joking aside I do believe that there is far too much emphasis placed upon the apparent 'level' of Amateur Radio licencing rather than the actual person involved or enjoyment of a fabulous hobby.

I've lost count of the amount of times I've been asked when am I going to 'progress' to Intermediate, that I'm more than capable, or that it is expected of me for some strange reason.

Yet you never experience the same when someone passes their car test with questions of when are they going to 'advance' by undertaking their PSV or even HGV test let alone assuming 'responsibilities' because one day they may be a taxi driver. Rolling Eyes


I'd already mentioned that the possibility of an M8 call sign and the proposed 100W limit for Intermediate does entice me to 'progress' up my licence and I'm sure will enthuse many others, but I do so at my own choosing rather than having it installed that I somehow 'must'.  

There are many great radio operators out there all enjoying the Amateur Radio interest at whatever level they choose with different levels of expertise or willingness to help others even with the simple act of answering a CQ call. I know that there are many 'Foundation' licence holders more than capable of undertaking a radio repair or construction of a transmitter system and many more who would be beneficial to the hobby by being able to supervise a radio interested party. The same goes for current restrictions that stop Intermediate licence holders from doing so and is a welcome proposal to the current system.

On the other hand there are also current 'Full' licence holders who have no interest in the 'supervising' or even training of others, do not want to run a repeater for the radio community or even have the basic skills or knowledge required to repair a radio or undertake an electronic project. Luckily even though they hold a licence giving them that 'permission' to do so, it is not expected of them.


I personally welcome the proposed changes for the advancement and longevity of the hobby interest moving forwards from some outdated regulations or restrictions let alone streamlining certain processes for Ofcom.

Anyone wishing to 'progress' up the licence should do so for their own personal choice rather than solely down to the ridiculous notion of a 'reward' scheme that in reality only rewards some with a supposed 'hierarchy' looking down their noses at other radio enthusiasts.


A recent and surprising contact for me at my Foundation limit was to India from VU2WJ utilising FT8 with my 10W limit, bit of lawnmower lead antenna in the loft, knowledge to construct equipment such as an antenna matcher, let alone the fact that I repaired the donated radio I was using. On his QRZ page was a quote that I found to be very compelling :

"It is not the class of licence the Amateur holds but the class of Amateur that holds the licence."

Couldn't have said it better myself.



The proposals put forward I believe are well balanced for not only today's Amateur Radio operators but also those wishing to involve themselves in future with this self rewarding hobby interest.

I'm sure the DX'ers and 'king of the hill' enthusiasts will love squirting that killowatt (PEP I believe and I'd assume at the antenna?) proposed to them being a big enough incentive. The 100 Watt limit and M8/M9 call sign a great incentive for the Intermediate and the Foundation holders will continue enjoying their hobby whilst having the ability or means to enthuse others into this fascinating hobby.


Thankfully we're all 'unique', just like everybody else. Some with different opinions as well as interest paths and motions like this will ruffle a few feathers, but thankfully not too importantly so. Wink

Change should be welcomed when in a positive vein rather than feared, questioned or unwanted.


My very best wishes to every radio enthusiast out there, CB'er, PMR user and of course every Amateur Radio operator regardless of your licence level.

Enjoy the airwaves, I know I will.

Regards,
Victor

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PostSubject: Re: Consultation: Updating the amateur radio licensing framework   Consultation: Updating the amateur radio licensing framework Icon_minitimeSun Jun 25, 2023 12:20 pm

Victor wrote:
Sounds like you've been picking up a bit of the old Ham Radio 'club' mentality there Neal. Wink
Embarassed Was really trying not to sound like that, but guess my wording choices was not the greatest. That's what happens when trying to put pen to paper (words to screen) quickly when the better half is in my ear about hurrying up to take her to work. That's my excuse anyway Wink

Do totally agree with you Victor on everything you've written. As I said, for the main part the framework does look to have been well thought out. I am quite excited to see what some non-Full licence holders are capable of in the future that they've had to hold back from to date. I am also excited for new Foundation holders who will be able to supervise non-licence holders (if I have read the proposals correctly). When I passed my Foundation and started making my first 10m contacts that was such an exciting time (not that it isn't now, but that initial excitement is special), what better time to show friends and be able to supervise them to have a go and get them interested, which can't be done as it stands currently.

My words were more focused around my personal circumstances. I love 10m and want to be able to operate during the day, being able to remote in via the net to my home station would allow that. I also want to help the ham community by being able to supervise non-licenced others at later dates. Both of these aspects currently require a Full, so a few months back I started to focus on that route, that was my personal decision. It's not a moan, even it sounds like, in that I should be thankful that these aspects are just being handed to me. Question to myself is.. do I continue to struggle through the learning for Full now (and some of it is a struggle for me), or just wait until the new privileges are given? In the future I do wonder if less people will bother with Full and, does that really matter...

We have to remember that these are only proposals at this time and that none of it may happen, or if it does is subject to change. I think that more than likely though it will all go ahead and as per the proposals, this is by past experience I have had of large companies / organisations councils who put these consultations out more of a tick box exercise even though their plans are already in motion behind the scenes.

Would love to hear others thoughts on the proposals. If the read through is a bit much then the video link Victor posted is a great summary and only a few minutes out of your life. I am sure its being discussed on other social media places but I don't frequent many of them, so if you've posted your thoughts on FB for example I would appreciate a few words here too. Thankies Smile

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PostSubject: Re: Consultation: Updating the amateur radio licensing framework   Consultation: Updating the amateur radio licensing framework Icon_minitimeSun Jun 25, 2023 3:24 pm

Can’t be arsed to plough through all of it!

But from the little I’ve read I’ve two comments, one positive one negative.

1.  It would be good to let others key the mic or tap the keyboard Mad under supervision of a licence holder, hopefully it would encourage others to take up the hobby.

2. No one needs a bloody Kw! Surely Ofcom should be encouraging less power in these days of high energy costs & with all the fuss over the damage to health caused by RF.

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PostSubject: Re: Consultation: Updating the amateur radio licensing framework   Consultation: Updating the amateur radio licensing framework Icon_minitimeSun Jun 25, 2023 3:44 pm

No worries there Neal and perhaps I may have misinterpreted your words so apologise if such occurred. My initial response was a joking quip that I hope wasn't misconstrued or caused offence.


I think it's marvellous that you are climbing up that licence ladder for the very reasons you state and wish you all the very best in achieving your goals. Then again I also see no reason why you currently have to be a 'Full' holder to run a remote station in our internet connected world.

Either way you have always been a perfect example of the Amateur Radio enthusiast excitedly sharing what you have learned and experienced along your interest path. Wouldn't it be great though to be able to supervise an interested onlooker to 'let-them-have-a-go' and enthuse that excitement to others. Consultation: Updating the amateur radio licensing framework 1f44d 

I have recently acquired a mobility scooter giving me freedom of movement for the first time in many years and would love to pop out with my handy.....so the clearing up of whether I would be /PM pedestrian mobile or /M mobile would be of benefit. (So long as I don't become /MM marine mobile by falling into a ditch! Very Happy )


It's all exciting times and I too would love to hear from others as like you I don't frequent many online places except this here Charlie Tango.

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PostSubject: Re: Consultation: Updating the amateur radio licensing framework   Consultation: Updating the amateur radio licensing framework Icon_minitimeSun Jun 25, 2023 3:49 pm

Nice input there John and I'm sure many will not want to plough through the paperwork hence why I linked the Essex Ham video for the benefit of all.

Have to agree that your first point is very valid, how better to get someone interested than by giving them a little supervised go?

The kilowatt? Yeah, I know what you mean but hopefully the EMC regulations should stop any human habitat built up areas of operation on such power levels. (I'm pretty sure many run upwards of those powers already!)

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PostSubject: Re: Consultation: Updating the amateur radio licensing framework   Consultation: Updating the amateur radio licensing framework Icon_minitimeTue Jun 27, 2023 7:13 am

It seems this subject is now being debated on various platforms as well as on-air. On the whole there seems to be a positive response to the proposed changes with only the odd whine about certain aspects.


My old Ham friend did mention something to me that had me thinking for a moment saying "If unlicensed operators such as CB users are allowed to utilise 12W on SSB, how come you had to pass an exam and are only allowed to use 10W?"

It wasn't a CB vs Ham Radio sort of mention (we don't do that here at CT most of us enjoying every aspect of the radio hobby and extolling the virtues by welcoming all) but showed how much thought has obviously been placed on the proposals by those involved. The difference is negligible in reality but does mark a difference on paper.

Either way, I think this all may very well go forward and hasn't attracted as much attention (negative or otherwise) as I expected, but then the EMF regulations seemed to pass through easily enough without much further bemoaning.

(I'm currently running through my EMF records seeing as I now have access to an extra band! Wink I'm also being pre-emptive by calculating my limits with the proposed 20W and looking tentatively further forwards being enticed by the proposed Intermediate advantages. Consultation: Updating the amateur radio licensing framework 1f44d )

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PostSubject: Re: Consultation: Updating the amateur radio licensing framework   Consultation: Updating the amateur radio licensing framework Icon_minitimeTue Jun 27, 2023 8:50 pm

I haven't seen too much discussion else where yet myself. There have been a few youtube videos made, but mostly have been informative and discussion based. There are of course comments to the videos, at a glance most seem to be positive.

I was a bit busy with non-radio stuff yesterday evening, but did get to listen to a short part of the local 2m net. The proposals were talked about a bit and mostly seemed positive, from what I got to listen to anyways. There was a mention of the aeronautical part and a little disappointment at the low wattage, that's probably one of the parts that people will talk about least in general discussions, but two of my local group are pilots who own private light aircraft. Slight moans aside, half a Watt is more than they were allowed before so...

John, on your point 1: Will it be classed as cheating on next years 10m challenge if I get my better half on the mic to call CQ? That's would probably pull in more contacts than my voice does Wink

On point 2: Don't know if you Victor, or anyone else will try the calculations for a Kw, but I can tell you through a recent random youtube video that, although that sounds a lot power, it is not enough to cook through hotdog sausages cable tied to an antenna. <- yes someone tried this.

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PostSubject: Re: Consultation: Updating the amateur radio licensing framework   Consultation: Updating the amateur radio licensing framework Icon_minitimeTue Jun 27, 2023 10:51 pm

Ah, honeypot trap tactics there Neal? Not very gentlemanly is it. Very Happy Wink


Well 10W is 22.36Vrms @ 0.45A into a 50ohm load so 1kW would be 10x that or 223.6Vrms @ 4.5A.
An SWR of 2:1 with the antenna being too short so 25ohm impedance means that jumps to 2000Vrms and a 12ohm or so load would be over 4000V! (Bit more complicated than that but in the right ball park.)

I'd rather tie a hotdog sausage to the antenna and not get my todger anywhere near!
(Have you ever had an RF burn? Hurts like hell!! Hotdogs don't know better so don't scream. Wink )

Performing a quick EMF calculation shows that my loft antennas are a no-no unless I extend the house upwards by another few floors and make sure no one is up there whilst transmitting. Big tower is gonna look a bit out of place in my village location and the Parish Council might have something to say about it. Still don't see why I'd want to squirt 1kW through a beam or something to another operator pointing a beam at me with another kW....where's the fun?

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PostSubject: Re: Consultation: Updating the amateur radio licensing framework   Consultation: Updating the amateur radio licensing framework Icon_minitimeWed Jun 28, 2023 12:37 pm

Don't worry, was only joking as you probably guessed. If I got her on there talking she would never come off.

Yep been burnt. RF burns are an odd feeling compared to being burnt by something physically hot like cooker hot plate or soldering iron. Hard to describe, you need to feel it for yourself to understand. *That's not me suggesting for members to go try it for themselves.

I've been thinking a bit about the dropping of mandatory use of regional identifiers. Have they always been used, or not used in the distant past? I started to look into the history of UK callsigns and there's been a huge amount of changes since the first ones were issued, but haven't seen when UK regional identifiers came about. With many people using online directories like qrz.com etc, if no identifiers are used I guess it is not going to be too hard to find out which country operators are in. You can always ask the operator if using phone, and digi modes like FT8 you transmit your locator square / country when calling CQ.

What are other peoples thoughts on the dropping of the regional identifier?

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PostSubject: Re: Consultation: Updating the amateur radio licensing framework   Consultation: Updating the amateur radio licensing framework Icon_minitimeWed Jun 28, 2023 8:40 pm

i think you should bolt a large  ant and battery on to the moby scooter Victor  Laughing

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PostSubject: Re: Consultation: Updating the amateur radio licensing framework   Consultation: Updating the amateur radio licensing framework Icon_minitimeWed Jun 28, 2023 9:41 pm

It's on the cards Lionel. Wink

POTA - Parks On The Air - The village playground.
SOTA - Summits On The Air - We have a bit of a hillock, well mound, nope ant hill just up the road.
MOTA - Mills On The Air - We have a commercial Mill within battery range.
CHOTA - Churches On The Air - Elstow Abbey
WACS - Worked All Chip Shops - My favourite with two in range now. (Cor I miss going t'chippie.)
WACP - Worked All Car Parks - There's a nice big one by the village pub. (Haven't had a pulled pint in years!)

Ha! Ha! I could make them up all day long. Very Happy

Just nice to get out of the house Lionel. Consultation: Updating the amateur radio licensing framework 1f44d 


----------------

Neal - Regional Identifiers won't be obligatory but you can still use them and even choose to use 'E' for England as far as I understand it. I still think it's great to be proud of where you live or come from much like the CB codes such as 26 for England, 108 for Scotland, 163 for Wales, etc. Just nice that there will be a choice to use it or not. Smile
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PostSubject: Re: Consultation: Updating the amateur radio licensing framework   Consultation: Updating the amateur radio licensing framework Icon_minitimeWed Jul 05, 2023 12:23 am

It all looks good to me.
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PostSubject: Re: Consultation: Updating the amateur radio licensing framework   Consultation: Updating the amateur radio licensing framework Icon_minitimeWed Jul 05, 2023 3:17 pm

Well after studding for weeks now they move the goal posts

Oh well Arrow Rolling Eyes
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PostSubject: Re: Consultation: Updating the amateur radio licensing framework   Consultation: Updating the amateur radio licensing framework Icon_minitimeWed Jul 05, 2023 8:29 pm

Wheel Nut wrote:
Well after studding for weeks now they move the goal posts

Oh well Arrow Rolling Eyes
Bernie, forget the consultation and get your foundation exam in before the end of this year. Razz
That way your studying will still be on track. Smile

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PostSubject: Re: Consultation: Updating the amateur radio licensing framework   Consultation: Updating the amateur radio licensing framework Icon_minitimeThu Jul 06, 2023 5:26 am

Bernie, 

I'll have to agree with Tony's comment regards not fretting about this consultation as it hasn't gone through yet and will also take a little while to trickle through to the syllabus.

Don't hold yourself back over anything and there is such a thing as studying too hard so just go for it!

You can get up to seven questions wrong with Foundation and still pass but remember that you also get a look up sheet for the exam. They're not looking for a genius but someone who will be a good radio operator and I'm sure you're more than capable.

I've seen people pass who struggle with dyslexia, exam stress and a host of other reasons and all they needed was the confidence to just simply go for it. 

Have confidence in yourself Bernie, I'm sure you'll do well and I'd like to join the queue of people ready and waiting to congratulate you when you pass. Consultation: Updating the amateur radio licensing framework 1f44d 


All my very best to you,
Victor
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PostSubject: Re: Consultation: Updating the amateur radio licensing framework   Consultation: Updating the amateur radio licensing framework Icon_minitimeThu Jul 06, 2023 6:27 am

Book your test ASAP and get on the air you can do it i did and dyslexic.

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PostSubject: Re: Consultation: Updating the amateur radio licensing framework   Consultation: Updating the amateur radio licensing framework Icon_minitimeThu Jul 06, 2023 6:42 am

Seems easy to say with hindsight doesn't it? Wink

I recall being tentative about the whole online exam scenario and remember only too well your own initial lack of confidence Alan, yet here we are rocking the world of Amateur Radio doing things we never even imagined. Consultation: Updating the amateur radio licensing framework 1f44d

Go for it Bernie!!
Won't be long before you'll land up like a lot of us with radios, antennas, bits of wire and log book entries pouring out of your proverbial ears!
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PostSubject: Re: Consultation: Updating the amateur radio licensing framework   Consultation: Updating the amateur radio licensing framework Icon_minitimeThu Jul 06, 2023 1:13 pm

Wheel Nut wrote:
Well after studding for weeks now they move the goal posts

Oh well Arrow Rolling Eyes

In addition to other's replies, if the proposals are accepted and all finally put through it will only effect a small part of the syllabus for Foundation. Nothing will change in the questions around propagation and safety using tools for example. Don't stress on it Smile

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PostSubject: Re: Consultation: Updating the amateur radio licensing framework   Consultation: Updating the amateur radio licensing framework Icon_minitimeThu Jul 06, 2023 1:50 pm

As Victor says it's easy for us to say just go for it now we have done it.
I admit i had no faith in myself at all and dyslexia didn't help.
Victor pushed me and glad he did.
I did the Essex ham course and just thought book the test what had i got to lose apart from the £27.50?.
Went online and i think it was before the end of the course and booked the first slot available test date and at 9.30am to get it over with early lol.
That was on the 17th November 2020 and to date i have 42k contacts in my qrz logbook.
There is an App you can get and do as many mock tests as you want as well.

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PostSubject: Re: Consultation: Updating the amateur radio licensing framework   Consultation: Updating the amateur radio licensing framework Icon_minitimeWed Aug 09, 2023 8:11 am

Just a reminder of this, and that there is now less than a month to respond if you intend to, 4th Sep.


For the record, after some thought, I have recently submitted my response with a 'agree' for all, but with a few notes on some minor concerns that I am sure will be addressed, more likely by the RSGB than Ofcom themselves if all go through.

In short one of my concerns, albeit something I really want for myself, is around internet usage for remote operation allowance for all levels. I feel there needs to be an element of training from foundation level for this, if only a clear safety understanding overview. I am generalizing a little here and writing my thoughts swiftly as need to get ready for work, so please no one take offence if I've not worded great, but...

Everyone has different levels of knowledge of radio and computers. It's not too hard to set up a station to run some digi modes by accessing the radio equipment through linked computers running logmein, Chrome desktop etc, and with a little more work and software and mic radio phone modes remotely. But what happens when something goes wrong with your equipment. If you are at a friend's house a couple of doors away you can go back and sort it out. If you're 100 miles away?

I feel it would be sensible to highlight and be taught a little about how to monitor your station remotely using software, webcams etc, and options to shutdown power remotely. How do you shut things off when RF gets through your cat control cable and messes up your remote PC operation and you can't shut off your FT8 CQing for example? Ofcom calls you because they believe you are interfering with an emergency service radio (God forbid), no one is answering at your home station address and they want you to power radio equipment off immediately? How do you know one of your power supplies are on fire? How do you power down if your internet connection goes down?

I might sound like a company H&S executive (I am not one btw) going over the top, but the safety side should be taught about when setting up a remote station, and if an awareness at least is not taught for those getting into radio I fear some unnecessary incidents may occur in the future. Not looking to over complicate the foundation licence syllabus and put people off, so that's why I am just saying about a safety awareness.

Hope that quick waffle makes sense.

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PostSubject: Re: Consultation: Updating the amateur radio licensing framework   Consultation: Updating the amateur radio licensing framework Icon_minitimeWed Aug 09, 2023 9:21 pm

Well it all seems like a good dilution once again from the boys at ofcon, hey ho the hobby is being dismantled bit by bit.
 Rather be on 11 these days anyway.
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