Monday, July 05, 2010

Threat to APRS, Echolink, D-Star in New Zealand

Steve, GW7AAV, spotted a news item on the NZART web page which states that the authorities in New Zealand have become concerned about IRLP, D-Star, Echolink, APRS and similar modes as they do not appear to fit within the New Zealand license conditions. Their concerns include the use of unattended transmitters and unlicensed digipeaters for APRS and amateurs based overseas operating a NZ amateur station via the internet.

It's easy to forget that other countries don't have such liberal licensing conditions as we do in the UK, although I would point out that operating an Echolink, D-Star, IRLP or packet radio (including APRS) node is not within the standard license conditions here either - you are supposed to apply for special permission. I know there are many who feel that is a good thing, and even that internet linking is not amateur radio and should not be allowed anywhere in the world, at all, but my opinion is that prohibiting it devalues amateur radio.

This policy is probably one of the main reasons why the APRS RF network is broken for messaging as many people (myself included) who are unwilling or unable to comply with the requirements for obtaining permission avoid the problem by operating receive-only gateways. Consequently we have the situation where smartphone-based APRS using mobile internet connections are more useful than APRS over radio.

I certainly believe that the point of our hobby is to use radio wherever possible, but where the internet makes possible something that could not practically be achieved using RF alone I think that we should be permitted to use it.


Theodore said...

All over the world governments are becoming more authoritarian.
The old lassez faire days of pre-cambrian type explosion of evolutionary structures is over.
Computers, digital modes and other once innovative technologies have now become commodities.
The situation is similar to what happened to television receivers in the seventies.
Governments everywhere are looking at control, because they now have the computer power to achieve it.
CCTV cameras, internet and email logging by ISP's and a myriad of other indicators point to the future.
Ham radio is a largely self regulated and self deterministic hobby which is unique in having the ability to bypass government communication channels.
In the U.S. the ARRL has tried to stem the inevitable crackdown by aligning itself with homeland security emcomms structures.
The empowering of third party company traffic in "emergencies" is another sign of the hidden hand of government taking control of amateur activities.
The U.S. government has just empowered the president to use an internet kill switch!
How long do you think a private network of amateurs will be allowed to run parallel to government controlled networks?
Digital modes, especially with encryption POTENTIAL, even if not used now, is a red flag to government.
Individual radio transmitters are easily found and controlled but when networked in a digital environment with worldwide reach via the internet, government will not long tolerate it.
Some may say this is conspiracy theory stuff, and you may be right, but trends are warnings to the astute.
If tolerant New Zealand is concerned, and France has brought down the hammer, how long before the trickle becomes a flood?
We have no one to blame except ourselves. If we flout regulations, onerous and non-sensical as they may be, we will eventually be called to account.

NormfromAZ said...

I can see it now, Just like Guns...the public can't be trusted with their own transmitters.