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IARU and Amateur Radio are Reaching “an Inflection Point”


Participants at the 45th meeting of the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) Administrative Council (AC) in late September discussed the organization’s role in advancing amateur radio going forward. The IARU released a summary record of the meeting this week. IARU President Tim Ellam, VE6SH/G4HUA, who chaired the AC meeting in Lima, Peru, observed that the IARU and amateur radio are reaching what he called “an inflection point.” He asserted that amateur radio is changing, but the IARU and its member-societies are not.

Ellam’s remarks prefaced a wide-ranging discussion of the challenges to be overcome if the IARU and amateur radio itself are to remain relevant. After several hours of discussion, AC participants agreed on four top-level headings to identify the challenges that must be faced:

  • What is amateur radio?

  • The roles of IARU and its member-societies

  • Recruitment into amateur radio

  • IARU finances

The AC also agreed that it is essential to involve younger people from outside the Council in determining how to address these challenges, and the three IARU regions were asked to identify individuals who “could take ownership of these topics.”

A small working group was named, consisting of IARU Region 2 Vice President Ramón Santoyo, XE1KK; Region 2 Area A Director George Gorsline, VE3YV, and IARU Region 1 President Don Beattie, G3BJ. Using topics discussed to develop a starting point, the panel will aim to have a draft version of a plan by mid-December to address the challenges that would serve as a basis for further discussion.

IARU Region 1 (Europe, Africa, and the Mideast) has been a leader in marshalling interest among next-generation radio amateurs, sponsoring Youngsters On The Air (YOTA), and other youth-related activities, including a summer camp each year attended by young radio amateurs from around Region 1. IARU Region 3 noted at the Council meeting that it plans a Youth on the Air activity in Thailand next October and expressed the hope that Regions 1 and 2 can participate.

In other matters, based on a suggestion from Fred Matos, W3ICM — a National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) spectrum manager — the AC agreed to change the objective of the IARU HF World Championship contest to read as follows: “To support amateur self-training in radiocommunications, including improving amateur operating skills, conducting technical investigations, and intercommunicating with other amateurs around the world, especially IARU member-society headquarters stations, using the 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, and 10 meter bands.”

According to an AC meeting document, Matos’ rationale is that the objective of an IARU-sponsored activity should tie directly to the ITU Radio Regulations.

In a related matter, the Council agreed to indicate to ARRL, which administers the competition, that it would favor relaxing rules for multioperator, single transmitter, mixed-mode entries — which the AC views as more restrictive and punitive than those that apply to most other contests — without affecting scoring and adjudication. Under current rules, multioperator, single transmitter, mixed-mode entries must remain on a band and mode for at least 10 minutes before changing bands or modes, and violating the band change rules will reclassify the entry as a check log. The IARU event is held each July.

To keep informed on IARU happenings, subscribe to the ARRL-IARU online group, moderated by IARU Secretary Dave Sumner, K1ZZ.




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