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Thailand Reported to Have the Third Largest Ham Radio Population

07/23/2018

The small Southeast Asia nation of Thailand is reported to be the country with the world’s third largest population of radio amateurs — a total of 101,763 as of last February, or slightly fewer than California’s 106,000 Amateur Radio licensees. The Thai ham radio count represents a drop from a reported high of 247,676 hams in May 2012. Only the US and Japan outrank Thailand in terms of the number of radio amateurs.

Thailand has a population of about 68 million, and the vast majority of the current Thai ham population are Novice operators, which have privileges on 10 and 2 meters. Intermediate and Advanced licensees make up the remainder; both of those classes may operate all bands authorized in Thailand, the only distinction being authorized power. Only in the past 2 years have individuals been able to take the exams for the Intermediate and Advanced licenses. All statistics were included in a report to the International Amateur Radio Union Region 3 conference this September in South Korea.

“Contesting is at the heart of Amateur Radio in Thailand, and back in the 1980s, contest participation by [the Radio Amateur Society of Thailand] (RAST) played a key role in persuading the authorities to grant permission for the activity,” said the report, prepared by Tony Waltham, HS0ZDX/G4UAV. In 1982, the telecommunications regulator at the time had forbidden all ham radio activity while new Amateur Radio regulations were being drafted.

“RAST then applied to operate from a club station in major international contests from an academic campus and, with HF amateur radio operations otherwise forbidden, these repeated requests — which were all granted — meant that Thailand could remain active on the HF amateur radio bands,” Waltham recounted. “And, as it turned out, this participation in international contests would enable HF activities to continue in Thailand for 5 years during the mid-1980s before new regulations were drafted and licensed HF Amateur Radio finally took off.”

Thailand’s late King, Bhumibol Adulyadej, HS1A, was the patron of RAST and inspired Amateur Radio activity in his nation. He died in 2016.

Waltham said in his report that HF activity in Thailand has increased steadily over the past few years, and the current Thai telecoms regulator, the NBTC, “has been very supportive of Amateur Radio.” — Thanks to Southgate Amateur Radio News for some information



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