What does “protection of our bands” entail? It is probably fair to say that, for most amateurs, this “protection” means:
- protecting our band allocations from other services;
- removing unwanted intruders;
- removing unwanted electrical noise; and
- removing unlawful interference/transmissions from fellow amateurs.
Can any representative group “protect” our band allocations?
There is a core (almost holy..) belief amongst many amateurs that representative societies “protect” the amateur bands. Alas, the reality is somewhat different.
The HF bands, 2m and 6m are codified by international agreement, so we won’t “lose” them, per se.
The truth is that all amateur radio representative organisations have little real-world influence over the allocation and protection of the bands above VHF.
The commercial pressures are too great, and our utilisation of the spectrum above 148 MHz simply does not justify our current allocations.
IARU Monitoring System
The IARU monitoring system is designed for reporting Intruders on bands in which the amateur service has primary status.
Intruders are deliberate transmissions in our primary bands. Localised electrical noise is not regarded as an “Intruder”, and is not within the scope of this service.
Similarly, the IARU monitoring system does not deal with Amateur-Amateur complaints – that is the remit of the ACMA.
In Australia, we have no more than 1-2 people making regular reports to the IARU IW service. These reports typically contain between 460 and 550 instances of intruders on our bands.
99% of the reports come from one person.
This is simply not good enough.
Can a representative group protect our bands from QRN?
The short answer is no. Most localised electrical noise is created by the plethora of cheap electrical equipment that has become a part of our everyday lives, such as power transformers for domestic appliances, low power RF devices with poor shielding, (or operating out of band), garage door openers, cordless phones, computer equipment, LED lights, and the infinite list of internet and bluetooth connected devices that permeate modern day life.
Given the massive commercial interests, very little is being done in practice to stem the flow of non-compliant electrical equipment flooding our shores.
This equipment is wreaking havoc on the radio spectrum by raising the general noise floor, particularly in major cities.
The other noise source is the domestic electrical distribution system. Privatisation has meant that utility companies are often reluctant to resolve noise complaints from amateurs.
Can representative groups protect our bands from unlawful amateur-amateur QRM?
Again, the short answer is no. Representative organisations have no legal or punitive grounds on which to “police” amateur bands. This is responsibility of the ACMA.
The most effective course of action is to;
- ignore the interfering station;
- document and (if possible) record the QRM; and
- approach the ACMA directly with the evidence.
We will be publishing more in-depth articles on QRM and QRN soon. Stay tuned.