You and the IARU by Onno VK6FLAB

In his latest Podcast, Onno,  VK6FLAB, reminds us of just how lucky we hams are to have the International Amateur Radio Union behind us to keep and protect our radio spectrum — Layne AE1N

Foundations of Amateur Radio #147

You and the IARU

Have you ever considered the infrastructure that exists to make it possible to tune to 7.090 MHz, call CQ and make contact with anyone on the planet?

In a world where we as radio amateurs share spectrum with radio and television broadcasters, mobile phones, wireless networks, satellites, GPS, drones, wireless headphones, radar, boating, aviation, citizen band, garage door openers, fitness trackers and any other wireless gadget imaginable, not to mention radio astronomy, microwave ovens, meteorological aids, inter and intra -car communication, autonomous cars, trains and more.

The world clamors for spectrum and in among those allocations we find the amateur bands. There are 24 million odd people in Australia, a few normal people, but mostly odd and about 14000 radio amateur license holders, that’s about 0.06% of the population.

It’s extraordinary that in the last 100 years of radio spectrum allocation we have access to the bands we have. It’s easy to forget that in the rarefied air of amateur radio where we have access to an astonishing amount of spectrum how unique we really are.

Not only do we have a situation where we have access to bands, this is mostly global access. There are exceptions and while bands don’t exactly line up, for example, 7.090 MHz in Australia and the UK is an SSB calling frequency, but in the United States this is a CW, RTTY and data frequency, still amateur radio, but not the same mode.

How this allocation exists is a combination of being the first mover, that is, radio amateurs came along and used it before anyone else had any use for the spectrum and the existence of the International Amateur Radio Union, the IARU.

The IARU is a topic in and of itself, but in essence, it’s an organization that exists and has done since 1925 due to radio amateurs combining their efforts. The IARU consists of over 160 member countries which are represented by their peak body, in Australia the WIA, the UK has the RSGB and the US has the ARRL. So, if you’re a member of one of those organizations, you, in turn, are represented at the IARU where volunteers represent you and me on the world stage.

The IARU has organized the world into three regions that correspond with the International Telecommunications Union, Region 1 in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Russia, Region 2 is the Americas, Region 3 is the rest, Asia and the Pacific, that includes India and China.

At some level discussion about the IARU, the role it plays and the processes it has and services it offers is a dry and boring administrative slog. It’s not sexy, it’s not thrilling, but every once in a while I think it would be a great idea to consider what the world might look like without the IARU and what our hobby might look like had this organization not existed.

There are some public activities that the IARU engages in, the Beacon Project, the HF World Championships and the Worked All Continents award. There are the Monitoring System and other activities such as the Amateur Radio Direction Finding or ARDF championships.

The public relations face aside, much of the activity of the IARU is invisible, going to meetings, making proposals, keeping abreast of new technology and threats to radio spectrum, participating in working and study groups and the administration of all this volunteer effort.

Next time you call CQ and a station on the other side of the planet answers, consider some of the invisible forces at work that makes it possible.

I’m Onno VK6FLAB

To listen to the podcast, visit the website: http://podcasts.itmaze.com.au/foundations/ and scroll to the bottom for the latest episode. If you’d like to participate in a discussion about the podcast or about amateur radio, you can visit the Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/foundations.itmaze

Feel free to get in touch directly via email: [email protected], or follow on twitter: @vk6flab (http://twitter.com/vk6flab/)

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