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.
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