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Amateur Radio as Educational Tool Represented to Policymakers in Washington DC


ARRL and Amateur Radio Digital Communications (ARDC) represented Amateur Radio at a symposium in Washington on February 1 at which the top domestic spectrum policymakers from across the federal government considered implementation of the National Spectrum Strategy (NSS) [PDF].

ARRL ensures that Amateur Radio is represented at sessions such as this so that decisionmakers understand amateur radio's roles when spectrum decisions are made, including its substantial contributions to student interest and education in STEM subjects at schools throughout the country and its role during emergencies and natural disasters.

In the NSS, released by the White House in November, national policymakers identified some 2,790 megahertz of spectrum to be considered for future commercial needs. No new amateur spectrum was included, with only the ongoing reallocation studies related to 3.1 - 3.45 GHz being addressed.

The NSS was prepared for the President by the National Telecommunications Information Administration (NTIA) in collaboration with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). NTIA considered input from Federal Executive Branch agencies that use spectrum as well as from other spectrum users, including amateur radio operators. As the NSS was being formulated during 2023, ARRL's Washington Counsel presented information on amateur radio to the policymakers at an NTIA listening session. This was followed with a written submission about amateur radio spectrum concerns, and later with a one-on-one meeting with NTIA's Senior Spectrum Advisor in overall charge of formulating the NSS.

The February symposium followed release of the NSS in November and was in support of finalizing implementation plans for the strategy that are expected to be announced by the White House in mid-March.

For the symposium, ARRL Life Member Phil Karn KA9Q, a director and past-president of ARDC, participated as a panelist and reinforced amateur radio's important national role in workforce development with personal testimony based on his own career.

Karn's recruitment by Qualcomm in its early days was due directly to his pioneering amateur radio accomplishments with digital wireless projects that included many firsts. Karn retired from Qualcomm as Vice President for Technology in 2011. He shared with policymakers the value of amateur radio to interest and recruit youth into STEM areas and into wireless specifically. Karn's life experience lent special weight to his remarks about amateur radio's role in attracting youth to STEM projects.

"I see [amateur radio] - having been involved in it for 52 years now - as fundamental as an educational system... It is a type of hands-on intuitive learning that is almost impossible to get any other way," said Karn. Watch a video of the panel on YouTube.



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