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10. How to make better ham radio rules?

2002-10-27

Notice: Folks, here I am going to discuss some rule'n'regulation issues that we, radio amateurs, face to every day. These problems are big obstacles for this nice way of communication to be more developed and widely used.

First of all, anybody who might be interested in running Linux amateur radio software, as a way of using radio amateur stations on the international HF waves, in a digital manner, has to learn manual analog Morse telegraphy and pass manual Morse skill test. For a long time now, I have been trying to explain myself, why manual Morse telegraphy is still being kept as the requirement without an amateur is not allowed to use HF frequencies under 30 MHz, in order to contact other Linux and other radio amateurs world-wide. I still have no answer, except that all of those who have wasted lots of time learning Morse, now don't want to allow newcomers to use the same capabilities - without the same (useless) tests!

You all know, there are so many Linux enthusiasts world-wide (including myself) who have been fighting against all types of monopols (like a company from Redmond). The Morse obligatory test is the same: just another type of a monopoly!

That's why I have been trying to persuade all relevant factors to remove such outdated regulatory principles, that make more and more obstacles for not only Linux users, but for other kinds of computer users - when it comes to use modern ICT technologies. I hope, all of you, readers of this mini-HOWTO, can now understand what does it mean to endlessly use outdated rules and regulations. For example, I often contact people from the academic world, students and scientists, in order to motivate them to join amateur radio wireless activities. They mostly refuse to start with amateur (also called "ham") radio, as soon as they hear they have to pass the Morse test, as the legal requirement before they become allowed to connect to remote packet radio users world-wide, using the HF radio bands and devices. I am sure, the absence of those high educated people in the ham radio is one of the most negative consequences we face to in ICT areas.

I have been thinking what to do, since early ninetees when I was the secretary of YU7 (Vojvodina province in Serbia) amateur radio union. It seemed to me that it was a hard job to persuade people who govern the amateur radio, just to remove that outdated rule. So, I have decided to suggest the implementation of another regulatory principle: To adopt a new type of amateur radio licenses, a Ham Digital Licence (the HDL in short). HDL holders would be allowed to use ALL amateur radio frequencies, including ALL international HF bands under 30 MHz. But, they would be allowed to use ONLY digital types of amateur activities, including the use of computers with LinFBB packet radio software. HDL holders might use some dedicated radio transmitters, without the ability for voice microphone and Morse key connections, in order to avoid possible misuse of unwanted amateur activities (like voice operations).

All HDL candidates would have to learn topics like hardware and software in general, connecting amateur radio stations to computers, building antennas, English language in written exam etc. The Morse requirement would not be used anymore, as well as some other obsolete tests, like complicated radio circuits, building home-brew radios from the scratch (instead of buying modern factory manufactured devices) etc.

Folks, I believe that amateur radio digital activities have their future, only if we all do our best to improve the regulatory principles that govern this fine hobby. Besides the telegraphy requirement, here in Serbia we also have to be members of the national amateur radio union, as the legal requirement, before we become allowed to use any type of amateur radio activity. Such a stupid rule does not exist elsewhere! Should you want to help us to adopt internationally known principles, that do not require to join any type of organizational system, i.e. amateur radio society that only wants to get your membership money, you are asked to lobby for that. Our outdated amateur society leadership has an email address: yu0srj@eunet.yu (I suppose they may have more than one email address, but you may try to use this one and/or to search for more info related to "Savez radio amatera Jugoslavije", "Savez radio amatera Srbije", etc). Your valuable help would be appreciated. Case you need more info regarding these legal issues, do not hesitate to contact me.

If you find yourself interested enough in making amateur radio rules and regulations better and updated (say to widen the idea of liberalize the ICT areas and free them of any kind of monopols), I would suggest you to look for your national radio amateur society and/or national telecommunication regulatory agency. Lobby to them in order to remove the obsolete manual Morse proficiency test.

Case we all do our best to remove all those obstacles for new people who may wish to enjoy amateur radio digital and Linux-related operations, the technology would become the part of more homes. I hope you, the readers, may help. So I look forward to hear from you soon!


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