HF Radio Licences

Submitted: Tuesday, May 30, 2006 at 09:48
ThreadID: 34404 Views:4032 Replies:7 FollowUps:18
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G'day all,

Plenty of information on this in the archives, but not quite the answer I am after.

I am in the process of fitting an HF radio to the car prior to the 'big one' next month. We will be travelling with our two children for 6 months and the major motivation for fitting the radio is:

1) Access to medical assistance/advice,
2) Breakdown/general emergency assistance, and
3) Facility for family/friends to leave important messages.

Obviously we will use the unit as a ageneral comms device as well, but these are the main ones. I have applied to join VKS737 and I am happy that I will also need an outpost non-assigned licence to use the RFDS frequencies (the radio is programmed with all the relevant 737 and RFDS freqs).

Question is this. From a practical perspective, do I really need to use the RFDS frequencies and, hence, do I really need the outpost licence?

Put another way, will the VKS737 service provide the type of (emergency)assistance I will need reliably or does access directly to the RFDS freqs provide some additional insurance?

Again, I am happy with the theory, but I am after some practical experience/advice from those who have 'been there and done that.'

Cheers,

Matt.
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Reply By: Footloose - Tuesday, May 30, 2006 at 09:53

Tuesday, May 30, 2006 at 09:53
Matt, the short answer is no. If, however, in the unlikely event that you have a genuine emergency and cant reach a 737 station, and end up using the RFDS, few questions will be asked.
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Follow Up By: Member - Matt M (ACT) - Tuesday, May 30, 2006 at 09:57

Tuesday, May 30, 2006 at 09:57
Footy,

I guessed that might be the answer. So I suppose I should do the 'right' thing and buy the licence. Not too much money anyhow.

Cheers,

Matt.
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Reply By: Member- Rox (WA) - Tuesday, May 30, 2006 at 09:56

Tuesday, May 30, 2006 at 09:56
I my experance VKS is all that you need + Radtell if you need to make remote Ph calls.
I have traveled for 12 months and now am a VKS Opp.
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Follow Up By: Member - Matt M (ACT) - Tuesday, May 30, 2006 at 09:58

Tuesday, May 30, 2006 at 09:58
Thanks Rox.
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Reply By: Member - Jay Gee (WA) - Tuesday, May 30, 2006 at 09:59

Tuesday, May 30, 2006 at 09:59
An "outpost licence" is actually required by law if you intend to transmit on a "non-fixed" HF radio. It doesn't matter if you're using vehicle to VKS, vehicle toRFDS, vehicle to vehicle, vehicle to a private netweork or vehicle to a fixed base or even if you are walking with your HF - you require an outpost licence. Base stations also require a licence - but it has a different name.
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Follow Up By: Member - Matt M (ACT) - Tuesday, May 30, 2006 at 10:04

Tuesday, May 30, 2006 at 10:04
Jay Gee,

This is from the VKS737 conditions of use:

"Members DO NOT require an Australian Communications & Media Authority (ACMA) Outpost Mobile Licence (RFDS licence) to
operate on the VKS-737 Network frequencies."

??

Matt.
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Follow Up By: Footloose - Tuesday, May 30, 2006 at 10:07

Tuesday, May 30, 2006 at 10:07
Matt, you are correct. Only stations using RFDS frequencies are obliged to hold an outpost license. 737 is covered by a "class" license. This means they pay fees for their base licenses, but are able to allocate mobile numbers (note, these are not licenses).
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Follow Up By: geocacher (djcache) - Tuesday, May 30, 2006 at 10:27

Tuesday, May 30, 2006 at 10:27
In addition to the above in emergency situations and potentially life threatening situations transmission by unlicensed operators is not illegal. The need must be legitimate though.

I travelled last year with VKS737, Radtel and an Outpost license. We didn't even look like using the RFDS frequencies once and this year I've let the Outpost license lapse.

Thankfully I didn't need the VKS737 service for an emergency (unless you count the busted fridge) but rarely (extremely rarely) had difficulty getting onto a base either during sched time or by selcal.

I did help 2 other members out of binds though, 1 medical emergency and a mechanical one. It's a great service and if you are familiar with your radio, use it regularly to get an idea of how time of day and conditions affect choice of frequency and base to contact you will be fine. My six year old daughter will hopefully be on air this lot of school hols from outback NSW learning how to use it.

Best of luck, enjoy your trip.

Dave
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Follow Up By: Member - Jay Gee (WA) - Tuesday, May 30, 2006 at 11:13

Tuesday, May 30, 2006 at 11:13
I would suggest that all check with the "Spectrum Management Authority" - They are the ruling body on radio communications in Australia - and unless they have changed their policy in the last couple of years they would have a different opinion.

And it is their opinion that matters if you don't want to end up in the courts.

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Follow Up By: Mike Harding - Tuesday, May 30, 2006 at 11:45

Tuesday, May 30, 2006 at 11:45
>I would suggest that all check with the "Spectrum Management Authority"

I wouldn't most of the time they don't have a bloody clue! They couldn't even manage to publish the correct telephone number for themselves two years ago.

Mike Harding
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Follow Up By: geocacher (djcache) - Tuesday, May 30, 2006 at 11:53

Tuesday, May 30, 2006 at 11:53
Be a bit hard to do that JG. The SMA haven't existed for years. Maybe even a decade.

They became the Australian Communications Authority but you can't ask them they are defunct too.

Try ACMA - the Australian Communications & Media Authority.

Dave

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Follow Up By: Mike Harding - Tuesday, May 30, 2006 at 12:07

Tuesday, May 30, 2006 at 12:07
I don't think you do need an Outpost Licence for VKS737 - from:
Site Link

The first two paragraphs seem to be definitive:

--------------------------------------------------------------
Alternative Services to Outpost Radio

An outpost licence only authorises stations that participate medical aid and public correspondence services provided by the RFDS.

There are a number of remote area communications services, some of which may offer emergency, medical aid and public correspondence services. These communications services are provided on a commercial basis. These services are NOT covered by an outpost licence and do not permit communications with the RFDS.

Participation in distance education services must be covered by a third party authorisation issued by the educational institution providing the service. These educational institutions are licensed under the fixed licence type.

Participation in the Telstra RADPHONE interconnect service must be covered by a third party authorisation issued by Telstra. Telstra is licensed under the maritime coast licence type.

Participation in alternative land-based radiocommunication services must be covered by a third party authorisation issued by the company providing the service. These companies are licensed under the land mobile licence type.
--------------------------------------------------------------

Mike Harding
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Follow Up By: Member - Jay Gee (WA) - Tuesday, May 30, 2006 at 12:22

Tuesday, May 30, 2006 at 12:22
The statement "Participation in alternative land-based radiocommunication services must be covered by a third party authorisation issued by the company providing the service. These companies are licensed under the land mobile licence type. " is still a bit open-ended.

Nowhere in the ACMA documentation does it state "individuals using the services of "land-based radiocommunication services" do not need an outpost licence.

Do what you all wish - make your own interpretations - but don't forget one bit of advice "USER BEWARE"
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Follow Up By: Member - John (Vic) - Tuesday, May 30, 2006 at 12:54

Tuesday, May 30, 2006 at 12:54
Jay if we are breaking the law by being VKS members without an Outpost license then the government should wake up pretty quick and send out fines to all 3500 of us VKS members.
Would be a good days revenue for the ACMA.

By the way I think the "Users are Aware"

Cheers
VKS737 - Mobile 6352 (Selcall 6352)

Lifetime Member
My Profile  My Position  Send Message
Classifieds: Water Tank 55 Litre

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Follow Up By: Mike Harding - Tuesday, May 30, 2006 at 12:54

Tuesday, May 30, 2006 at 12:54
>Nowhere in the ACMA documentation does it state "individuals
>using the services of "land-based radiocommunication services"
>do not need an outpost licence.

It doesn't say they don't need an Elephant Keepers Licence either but it does state exactly the converse - see para. one - an Outpost Licence is only good for RFDS.

Personally I have an Amateur Licence so I don't mind at all :)

Mike Harding
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Follow Up By: HJ60-2H - Tuesday, May 30, 2006 at 19:16

Tuesday, May 30, 2006 at 19:16
Dont you mean that the men from the PMG will arrive on your doorstep in their grey holden panel van and fine you. The fine is pretty hefty, 50 pounds I beleive.
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Follow Up By: geocacher (djcache) - Tuesday, May 30, 2006 at 19:48

Tuesday, May 30, 2006 at 19:48
Don't know.

Ask Footloose - I'm sure he played on the edges of legal transmission in his youth... (back when old grey holden panel vans were new enough to be government vehicles)

:)

Dave
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Reply By: Member - Paul P (Bris) - Tuesday, May 30, 2006 at 10:21

Tuesday, May 30, 2006 at 10:21
Matt

I have a Outpost licence. A membership to VKS737 and I use RADTEL for phone access.

There is just the two adults when we travel. I feel I have all bases covered this way (HF wise).

We are also qualified first aiders and carry a comprehensive First Aid kit.

Regards

Paul
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Reply By: Member - Ian S (NT) - Tuesday, May 30, 2006 at 10:28

Tuesday, May 30, 2006 at 10:28
Hi Matt,

Pat and I have been on the road for over a year now and use VKS737 when on the move. Fantastic service. some real personalities in operators. If you are calling each day when travelling, which I would recomend, then the operators will soon get to know you.

We also use our HF to listen to the ABC when out of range of all other signals. Footloose programmed our Codan, wouldn't be without it even though we have satphone as well.

Regards
Ian at Mt Dare
Quebec 4017
AnswerID: 175597

Follow Up By: Footloose - Tuesday, May 30, 2006 at 12:10

Tuesday, May 30, 2006 at 12:10
Ian, glad to see that radio gets some use :))
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Reply By: Member - Matt M (ACT) - Tuesday, May 30, 2006 at 12:40

Tuesday, May 30, 2006 at 12:40
Thanks for all the great responses. I guess that the bottom line is that if the RFDS freqs were the only ones available, then you would use them in an emergency and worry about the possible ramifications later.

That said, I think I will apply for the outpost licence, just to be sure and noting that it is not that expensive.

Great feedback, much appreciated,

Matt.
AnswerID: 175622

Reply By: Darian (SA) - Tuesday, May 30, 2006 at 13:15

Tuesday, May 30, 2006 at 13:15
From another VKS737 staff volunteer.............. VKS737 membership is designed to satisfy the most common needs of the outback traveller. IF you have a selcall capable radio, you can contact duty staff at the various bases, at any minute of the day, if the need is great. For messages and general info, one of the many daily skeds would suffice. Re the RFDS - all VKS bases have RFDS phone numbers built into the interconnects - you can selcall and phone through direct from your radio - and the network picks up the phone cost. If you want to make personal phone calls, you need a service like Radtel, being complimentary to the VKS system.
Without selcall, you are pretty much limited to skeds for formal help, unless you can casually establish contact with another user on channel (the latter being likely - a lot of people monitor traffic on the various VKS channels).
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Follow Up By: Member - Matt M (ACT) - Tuesday, May 30, 2006 at 14:58

Tuesday, May 30, 2006 at 14:58
Thanks Darian. Good advice from the 'horse's mouth'.

Matt.
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Follow Up By: geocacher (djcache) - Tuesday, May 30, 2006 at 19:53

Tuesday, May 30, 2006 at 19:53
Hey Darian,

I would have said you were a bit narrow in your scope when you say "outback traveller"

You and I and luxoluk and I think troopy john all VKS'd our way around the High Country last month.

Many's the night I hear a High Country addict or newbie call in on scheds - particularly Adelaide or St Marys.

Cape York too for that matter on the Charters Towers scheds.

Where ever you want to go, if it's off the beaten track there's bound to be another vehicle somewhere in your travels with the little blue & white sticker and a bloody big antenna.

And they are usually always friendly if you say g'day.

I bumped into one in a carpark just out of Omeo just the other week....

Dave
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Follow Up By: Darian (SA) - Wednesday, May 31, 2006 at 07:38

Wednesday, May 31, 2006 at 07:38
Fair comment Dave - I must have a look at that Geocache stuff too - will do it today. Cheers .........
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