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Article: Global Institutions Support Amateur Radio Communication and Experimentation

08/05/2019

Former ARRL CEO David Sumner, K1ZZ, has contributed to the latest edition of ITU News Magazine — published by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). The issue is devoted to “terrestrial wireless communications,” which includes the Amateur Radio and Amateur Satellite services. Sumner’s article, “Self-training, intercommunication and technical investigations: the amateur service in the 21st Century,” discusses Amateur Radio within the context of a global network of experimenters and communicators who, in Sumner’s words, “expand the body of human knowledge and technical skills that are essential to development and offer a resource that can literally save lives when natural disasters disrupt normal communications channels.”

“Amateur licensees are grateful that ITU member-states continue to recognize the benefits of providing direct access to the radio spectrum to qualified individuals,” said Sumner, who now serves as secretary of the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU), an ITU sector member.

Sumner points out that access to frequency bands “spaced throughout the radio spectrum” is critical to Amateur Radio’s future. He notes that the initial pattern of ham allocations dates back to 1927 and the International Radiotelegraph Conference. Allocations have been extended and expanded at subsequent conferences, most recently at World Radiocomunication Conference 2015 (WRC-15), when ham radio obtained a tiny secondary band near 5.3 MHz. (An earlier WRC was responsible for the Amateur Service’s two lowest-frequency allocations, 135.7 – 137.8 kHz and 472 – 479 kHz.)

On the other end of the radio spectrum, the 1979 World Administrative Radio Conference (WARC) extended terrestrial allocations above 40 GHz to include amateur allocations. “If a future World Radiocommunication Conference extends allocations above 275 GHz, adequate provisions for amateur experimentation should be made,” Sumner observed.

The first item on the agenda for WRC-19, which takes place this fall in Egypt, calls on delegates to consider an allocation at 50 MHz to the Amateur Service in ITU Region 1 (Europe, Africa, and the Middle East) that aligns with existing allocations in Regions 2 and 3. “Harmonized allocations highly facilitate intercommunication,” Sumner asserted.

Sumner notes that ITU “plays an essential role” in keeping the spectrum clear of unwanted interference and emissions, an effort he said is “especially vital to the Amateur Service, which uses sensitive receivers to compensate for practical and regulatory limitations on antennas and transmitter power levels.”

Sumner also pointed to the role radio amateurs can play in developing and refining communication protocols, including digital techniques, to improve weak-signal performance. He noted that Joseph Taylor, K1JT — a codeveloper of such digital modes as FT8, FT4, and JT65 — received an ITU Gold Medal in recognition of his outstanding contributions to radiocommunication.

Sumner explained that the IARU — a federation of more than 140 member-societies —represents the interests of radio amateurs around the world before ITU. The IARU’s contribution to the work of ITU began in 1932 with its admission to participate in the work of the International Radiocommmunicaiton Consultative Committee (CCIR). IARU is a member of the ITU Radiocommunication and Development sectors.

“The IARU is proud to be an active member of the ITU community,” Sumner said in conclusion.



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