Caveat - I am not a lawyer, nor an industry specialist. Anything written here should be checked against the current regulations by yourself, checking for changes and forming your own opinion. Documents used for reference will be listed at the end of the article
I am referring to major changes in the Foundation licensee conditions that have occurred in the last three years, probably the biggest changes since the Foundation Licence was announced and it is interesting that many websites and indeed many longer term Amateurs, do not realise what the the changes were.
The image for this this article was made up of a 10 minute collection of websites (and there are many more) with old and/or incorrect statements. These also included several Amateur Radio Clubs, a company selling radios but worst of all, the WIA website which has some articles and statements that are clearly out of date. It is important that the organisation that represents Amateurs in Australia, has its information up to date and correct.
For a Foundation licensee or even a prospective Foundation licensee, this can be downright confusing. These changes were (and are) in your Foundation Licence Manual (if you did your Foundation in the last couple of years. The sheer number of sites with information stating otherwise, leave you questioning whether you have understood it correctly. This is important to a new Foundation licensee as you are keen to adhere to the “Rules”, and the amount of conflicting information leaves you scratching your head.
So let’s summarise what these rule changes were and they were (but not the only ones):
Item 10 Section 27A has been repealed to remove licence conditions specific to the operation of an amateur foundation station. This change has the effect of allowing amateur licensees with foundation level qualifications to authorise another person to operate the station. It will also allow foundation licensees to operate an amateur station in automatic mode or computer-controlled mode, and to operate a station that is directly connected to a public telecommunications network.
This change meant two things.
- A Foundation licensee can now authorise another person to operate the station, although if the person is unlicensed, the foundation licensee must be in attendance at all times.
- It now allows a Foundation licensee to use Digital Modes. using equipment connected to the Internet/telephone system, and use automatic modes or computer controlled modes.
Item 11 Section 28 has been repealed to remove the licence condition restricting amateur licensees from transmitting using equipment that has not been manufactured commercially. This change will allow foundation licensees to transmit using equipment constructed by themselves or others.
And this change once again meant the following
- A foundation licensee was no longer limited to commercially manufactured transceivers.
- A foundation licensee can now build their own equipment
- Now that would also mean that you can modify commercial equipment as well.
Item 12 Paragraph 29(b) has been repealed to remove reference to emission mode 200HA1A that is used to transmit information using a manually operated morse key. This will allow amateur licensees to operate an amateur foundation station in a frequency band mentioned in column 1 of an item in Schedule 3A using any of the emission modes mentioned in column 2 of that item, provided the transmission remains entirely within that frequency band.
And finally this one in simple English,
- The Foundation Licensee is no longer restricted to a Manual Key for CW (which is Emission Mode 200HA1A). So you can now send computer generated Morse. The removal of this restriction was necessary to allow foundation licensees to use automatic/computer controlled modes.
These changes were very welcome and whilst there was some opposition at the time, it actually made obtaining your Foundation licence worthwhile.
Documents referenced for this article
The Official Changes document otherwise known as the Explanatory document
Radiocommunications Licence Conditions (Amateur Licence) Omnibus Amendment Instrument 2019 (No.1)
This document should be read in conjunction with the latest LCD
This is the Latest Radio Licence Conditions (Amateur Licence) Determination 2015 (or LCD for short)
Please be aware of using links to the LCD (Licence Conditions Determination) on Websites, as many websites do not update their links. By going to the Government Legislation Page, you are will be told whether the document is in force – Latest version or In force – Superceded version, and naturally the one you are after is In force – Latest version.
As an Amateur, this is important to understand this. You might think that you don’t have to worry, your a member of the WIA, or you have access to the WIA web site (as all amateurs do), and they will have the correct links.
Wrong!! – Whilst preparing this article, I found the WIA links were to out of date documents – taking me to a document that included amendments up to F2019L01226, a document that is so out of date that is no longer listed in the series. Whilst I applaud the WIA in providing links to the documents, from what I can see they are stored on the WIA web servers, and woefully out of date. They should just provide links back to the Federal Register of Legislation. If you make a decision based on an out of date document, I strongly suspect the argument that the document that you used was out of date will not cut it. As an Amateur, it is your responsibility to know where to obtain the latest document.
I realise that the WIA is already made up of many committees, but surely the WIA Website could come under the education committee or similar, and be revised on a quarterly basis at least. If this can’t be done, then take 2 x Advanced, 2 x Standard and 2 x Foundation Licensee’s and put them in a room (even a virtual room) for a day. You could even ask interested members to review the website and collate all the areas that need correction for the 6 members to review. Realistically, however the Website needs to be modernised with some of the latest CMS (Content Management System) software (off the shelf, low cost, is fine), where making changes are quick and simple, and document management systems can be implemented that allow documents to be regularly raised for review and changes reviewed before being published.