At the last RASA/ACMA meeting, RASA noted that permits are available for those amateurs wishing to run high power on VHF/UHF, and requested that this system be extended to HF.
ACMA noted that this is a complex issue, with legal ramifications for compliance, and that HF exposure limits need to be defined.
RASA undertook to provide a research/background paper on how the issues of higher power at HF and EMR/I/C limits are managed in other countries.
RASA Secretary, Dr. Andrew Smith, VK6AS has written a background paper as requested. The paper was sent to ACMA in May 2019.
ACMA have advised that they will be considering the paper as part of the forthcoming review of amateur licence conditions (LCD review).
An executive summary of the paper is provided below. There is a link to download the full paper at the bottom of the page.
Health risks with increased power
- A review of world literature has identified that radio amateurs have no higher incidence of medical conditions or causes of death from RFE than the general public. (Radio-Frequency and ELF Electromagnetic Energies A Handbook for Health Professionals, Hitchcock RT and Robertson RM. Revised 1994, John Wiley and Sons.)
- A review of the literature failed to ascertain any reports of damage to humans and/or animals from any amateur transmissions at power levels up to 2kW PEP. Data is scarce on issues related to microwave frequencies but yet again there are no reports of illnesses or diseases. (Ibid.)
- There is no empirical evidence that supports the ACMA position that an increase of PEP from 400W to 1kW would have any deleterious effect on radio amateurs, members of the public or animals, as long as the emissions comply with ARPNSA standards. Even at 1kW the levels of emission provided are very low when compared with broadcast antennas. There is no validity in terms of health, well-being and OHS that supports the ACMA argument for a 400W PEP limit in the Amateur HF and VHF/UHF bands.
Interference risks with increased power
- It is a sine qua non that with increased power, the higher and closer the source then the risk of Radio Frequency Interference (RFI) may increase
- There are multiple sources of RFI apart from Amateur Radio Transmissions.
- Change from analogue to Digital TV transmissions has reduced the risk of amateurs interfering with TV broadcasting and a literature review suggests that the number of complaints over this have dropped worldwide although other factors including a lack of follow up on reports of interference through personnel shortages may have had an effect
- There is no evidence that there has been any increase in RFI complaints in countries (NZ and Canada) (Sources FCC, NZART and Radio Commission of Canada) that have increased their permitted PEP over the last decade or so.
- Australia has a unique situation but in view of the evidence it would seem logical that a trial be undertaken allowing amateurs to use 1kW PEP on HF and VHF/UHF amateur bands with a well-structured reporting system for RFI complaints and investigations of these performed by the ACMA in association with Amateurs.
- There is no health or occupational health reason preventing power limits for Radio Amateurs in the HF/VHF/UHF bands to be increased.
- There is little or no evidence that suggests that an increase in power will increase complaints of RFI.
- In view of Australia’s unique situation, it would be sound practice for an increased power level to be monitored in detail.
The ACMA should increase the maximum PEP from 400W to 1kW for the amateur HF/VHF/UHF bands and conduct monitoring for any increase in RFI that this may possibly cause.
The full paper may be downloaded here: