The Australian amateur radio community is desperate for some factual information after the ACMA’s announcement of the successful tenderer for the contract to provide assessment and call sign services. I think that this will add somewhat to the news item provided on the National News.
I returned to Perth late on Friday evening having spent the week with my colleague Glenn VK4DU and the staff of The Australian Maritime College in Launceston Tasmania: the new supplier of Amateur Radio Assessment and Call Sign Services.
The College is part of the University of Tasmania and holds full educational accreditation at all levels.
The college has an 18 year history of successfully and with almost no complaints delivering assessments and call signs for marine communications.
I was invited to become a member of their bid team and was named as one of their advisors.
The aim of last week was to implement the processes for amateur radio and to discuss issues with the ACMA, our regulator. I can report that this was successful.
I think it is time that there was some myth busting:
- Amateur Radio Assessments and call sign allocations will continue with only a minor interruption.
- There will be little initial change in the delivery of assessments and the AMC will be in contact with all the current assessors as soon as it can to explain how the process will occur. Goodwill of the current team is considered critical.
- Despite rumours there will not be a significant increase in cost for those wishing to obtain a certificate of proficiency or call signs.
- The current tiered structure of licences and call signs together with the underlying educational syllabus will not change in the short term and the ACMA through the College has outlined a methodology for engagement with the sector so that there will be engagement in any changes that may be proposed for the future.
The previous provider could ease the path for the ACMA in the introduction and development of the new system by promptly passing on the historical data including the multiple choice question bank to the AMC. This is not essential for services to be provided but there is no doubt that co-operation will make things a lot easier for the AMC.
To my knowledge the ACMA has acted professionally and appropriately, if a tad slowly, in handling the award of the contract and there has been no breach of any rules that I am aware of in the process. Our meeting with ACMA delegate on Thursday was cordial and professional.
The Wireless Institute has been aware that they were not the successful tenderer for some time and their President, on behalf of their Board did indeed approach the College with a request that the WIA continue to maintain its current services on a sub-contractor basis. It is my understanding that this is precluded under the new deed.
Finally and perhaps most importantly for those directly engaged with assessment and call sign allocation is that the previous excessively onerous and bureaucratic business rules developed by the previous provider have been swept away in the new deal. This allows the College far greater degrees of freedom to introduce modern methodology for assessment and call sign management with the full approval of the regulator.
This can only be of benefit to the hobby and is probably the most exciting development in the last 20 years. I hope that you will be supportive of The Australian Maritime College and its advisors and faculty made up of radio amateurs such as yourselves but also with people who have professional experience in delivery and assessment in technical fields.
This is Andrew VK6AS