Call to action!  Use it or lose it.

Anyone who has spent time on the bottom end of the 40m amateur band (7000 – 7100 kHz) will be very well aware of the ongoing and chronic QRM emanating from Indonesia.

It’s important to note a couple of basic facts:

The Amateur Radio Service enjoys Primary Status from 7000 to 7100 kHz.

This means we are the Primary users and should not be subject to interference.

So, how did it get to this?

For many years (decades?), various hams have been observing these pirate operations on 40 metres.  Foreign operators are using our 40m band as a local chat service.

The signals are very strong in VK6 and northern VK4. 

The band is almost unusable in northern VK8.

As the evening progresses, these stations can be also heard very well in VK2, 3, 5 and 7.

 

Communications infrastructure across the 2,342 inhabited islands that make up Indonesia is quite limited.  We understand that easy access to cheap transceivers has created a significant user base who are using our amateur bands as a citizens band radio service.  This is totally unacceptable.

There have been literally thousands of interference reports issued to the IARU Region 3 Monitoring Service over many years.  Up to the end of 2017, we understand that these reports have been collated but little, if any, direct action has taken place.  Any direct approach to Indonesian regulators or representative groups has obviously been ineffective.

As soon as RASA was formed we made QRM a key priority.  We’ve listened to our members and the broader amateur community: Indonesian QRM is a constant issue for any VK amateur who frequents the bottom end of 40 metres.

RASA extensively reviewed reports submitted to IARU Region 3 as well as conducting our own monitoring and sought feedback and observations from VK radio amateurs.  We concluded that:

  • there is considerable and long term irregular activity from Indonesia between 7000 and 7100 kHz, mainly using USB mode;
  • some of the activity (typically above 7040) appears to be licenced YB hams speaking in Indonesian; and
  • some of the activities are unlawful transmissions between 7000 – 7100 kHz.

There is not much we can do about YB licenced operators using SSB in the CW or digital segments, as these are informal agreements and not codified in licence conditions.

However, the “pirates” have no place on our bands.

RASA have written to both IARU Region 3 and ACMA on these matters.

IARU Region 3 have responded and acknowledged the issue.  They have advised that they have written to the Indonesian national representative group (ORARI) seeking their action.  RASA will continue to monitor and seek updates from IARU Region 3.

ACMA have acknowledged the reports and have conducted their own observations from their ITU monitoring station in Quoin Ridge, Tasmania.  ACMA have concluded that the signals do emanate from the north of Australia and appear to be unlawful.

However, for the ACMA to take further action will require a considerable investment of resources on their part.  ITU protocol requires them to conduct detailed observations at various times of the day and night and provide substantive evidence for the ITU to take further action.

ACMA have advised that they do not have the available resources at present.  RASA understands this position and also believes that any action resulting from a formal report would almost certainly be ignored by Indonesian authorities.

This leaves us with three options:

  1. accept the status quo. Do nothing and accept we are losing our band to unlicensed foreign operators;
  2. lobby ACMA to invest the resources and proceed through formal ITU channels to place pressure on the Indonesian regulator; or
  3. conduct lawful transmissions in our primary band to discourage intruders.

RASA will never accept option 1.

Option 2 will take an extended period of time, will require ACMA to invest resources that could be better deployed elsewhere, and is unlikely to result in a positive outcome.

This leaves us with option 3.

 

Strategy

We propose the following strategy.

Amateurs to monitor pirate operations and keep a log.  As we are the Primary users we are entitled to ask unidentified transmissions to identify themselves.

If they fail to do so, we are within our right to use the frequency.

VK operators are encouraged to conduct tests, call CQ and have QSOs in a manner which dissuades these pirates from using our bands.

Our observations suggest that licenced YB amateurs conduct QSOs in Indonesian quite often; but they do identify themselves in English.

If the pirate operation ceases transmissions, this should be included in the log observation.

Please forward your logs to info@vkradioamateurs.org

RASA will issue a regular status report as well as conducting its own monitoring.

 

Obviously, the further north you are, the more effective you will be.  We suggest optimising antennas for northward radiation and operating at full legal power.

“Proactive spectrum management” has been successful for other Primary Services (maritime and aviation) suffering QRM on HF.

Please send us an email with your comments and feedback.  Based on your feedback we’ll proceed to recommend the commencement of this strategy on Friday 16th November 2018.