RADIO LICENCES: SECURITY OF TENURE
Thirteen submissions were provided to the MED on the radio Licences - security of Tenure Discussion
Copies of these including the NZART submission (No.7) can be accessed at:
Bruce Douglas ZL2WP
The Submission From NZART
A Submission to the Ministry of Economic Development, Radio Spectrum Management Group, in response
to the Ministry’s: “Radio Licences: Security of Tenure” discussion paper
This Submission is made on behalf of NZART Council and is in response to the Radio Licences: Security of
Tenure discussion paper that appeared on the Ministry’s web page during December 2006 at
http://www.rsm.govt.nz/spp/security-of-tenure/index.html and which invited a response.
Name of organisation:
The New Zealand Association of Radio Transmitters Incorporated.
Contact person for further details:
General Secretary: Debby Morgan ZL2TDM, NZART Headquarters, P.O. Box 40 525, Upper Hutt 5018,
Phone: 04 939 2189, Fax: 04 939 2190, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, NZART Web page: www.nzart.org.nz
This submission may be freely copied, or summarized, or distributed to third parties, as the Ministry wishes.
Currently there are approximately 4,900 callsigns issued to New Zealand Amateurs. Although it can not be
accurately determined, it is estimated that around 75% of licensed Amateurs are active in some form.
By nature, people involved in the Amateur Service conform to the purpose of the Amateur Service which is
defined by the International Radio Regulations as being:
“1.56 amateur service: A radiocommunication service for the purpose of self-training, intercommunication
and technical investigations …”
While some Radio Amateurs are only involved in one of the purposes stated above, some are involved in
more than one – some are involved in all three.
Radio Amateurs realise that some of the bands that they use are in areas of the radio spectrum that are in
demand by other spectrum users. It is also realised that the different parts of the radio spectrum are
“technology specific” and in being so, provide for the diverse range of interests that are available to be
explored and utilised within the Amateur Service.
This paper will look at the questions raised in the discussion paper with regard to the Amateur Service and
band usage that is available to the Amateur Service as a whole.
Questions and Answers
1. Should radio licenses have greater security of tenure? Why?
The simple answer to this question is yes.
The Amateur Radio service has by tradition been at the leading edge of radio for some 90 plus years. In fact
many advances can be traced to an Amateur Radio pioneer who by working away in his or her back yard
has produced a technological result based on their experiments with the use of radio. If these early pioneers
had not the access to various frequencies as part of their licenses, and thereby security that this implied,
these advances may not have occurred as easily, or at all.
The band plan for the Amateur Service is defined in part by the IARU Region 3 band plan and locally by the
MED. The Amateur Service is a service that exists to meet the need of members of the community whose
interests lie within the purpose of Amateur Radio. To fulfil this requirement, New Zealand Amateurs need
assurance that the existing and future frequency allocations are secure.
With the increasing demands now being placed on band plans as new technologies (both known and
unknown) come to the fore, new pressures are put on users, such as amateurs. The ability of this service to
remain viable is at risk and the "security of tenure" has never been as important as it is today.
2. What is more important to your business: rapid access to radio spectrum to implement new
services, or security of tenure for investment?
The Amateur Service is not a business; and by definition is not allowed to be one.
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) by definition states in its Schedule 3, Paragraph 4, (which
is attached to the New Zealand Amateur Radio Licence):
“1.56 amateur service: A radiocommunication service for the purpose of self- training, intercommunication
and technical investigations carried out by amateurs, that is, by duly authorized persons interested in radio
technique solely with a personal aim and without pecuniary interest.”
All amateurs have invested their money in radio equipment which comes from “disposable income.” In a time
of an aging population, the ability of people to have disposable income to replace or dispose of radio
equipment can be difficult. This investment is not only monetarily based, as amateurs also invest time and
self training in many areas. To also retain the amateur service as an attractive opinion for new people to join,
the ability to be dynamic, with new services but to retain a security of what we already have is very important.
The amateur service is not one where business practices of obsolesce readily apply or that of being "first to
market." As new technologies come to be, amateurs are very much early adopters or market leaders, which
industry then pick up on and turn into commercial reality. The amateur service requires both outcomes (as
stated in the question) that is rapid access to spectrum to implement new services, as well as security of
tenure to retain and advance technologies for the investment they have already made.
As an example Radio clubs (Branches of NZART) have made a significant investment in equipment (such as
Amateur Television Transmitters - ATV). For this facet of Amateur Radio to grow, licensees need to be
assured that their investment is on going. They need assurance that the frequencies utilised today, are still
available into the future.
3. Could changes to security of tenure be made in isolation from other reforms of radio Licences?
Might there be unintended consequences?
All change has consequence which can have a down flow effect.
An example of this was the introduction of SRD’s (Short Range Devices) between 433.05 - 434.79 MHz
(Radiocommunications Regulations (General User Radio Licence for Short Range Devices) Notice 2004
Schedule 1). This created an interference difficulty for the Amateur Service resulting in a complete re-design
of the frequency allocation of the UHF National System. Volunteer’s and radio clubs had to donate significant
amounts of time and money to restructure the system, both by way of planning, engineering, re-licensing and
physically re-tuning the equipment to move away from the interference coursed by SRD's.
In ideal circumstances for example, it is possible for an SRD to transmit its signal many kilometres. In recent
interference cases, this has proved difficult to track down and remedy. Many man-hours are expended to
track down, and turn off this type interference. Radio users must suffer an unacceptable period of
interference to their bands while this takes place.
4. Should all (or most) radio spectrum be moved to the management rights regime? Why?
In New Zealand, and internationally the Amateur Service needs to remain in step with the rest of world. This
does not mean that locally agreed allocations both new and existing ones or ways to manage spectrum
cannot be explored, but as the Amateur Service is one where international agreements and regulations
apply, one needs to carefully think through any new possible outcomes when moving to new structures such
as spectrum management rights.
While the New Zealand approach of spectrum management rights is one that should not be put to one side
as unworkable, or unsuitable for the amateur service, it must be handled with care to ensure that by its very
being, the existing rights are not extinguished. It would be a great pity for the radio bands or rights of usage
to be lost merely to invoke a spectrum management right regime.
NZART is of the opinion that this type of regime needs to be handled on a case by case basis, and not a
blanket one situation fits all.
5. Would a defined methodology for determining when spectrum is to be reallocated improve the
security of tenure for radio licenses? How and why?
A defined methodology would certainly help as a discussion point when spectrum is reallocated. A starting
point is always required, and analysis of any issue is much easier when this is the case. It is unclear at this
time if security of tenure is an expected or required outcome if this approach is taken.
6. What steps and considerations would a defined methodology incorporate?
The Amateur Service works within defined bands allocated through the ITU and generally conforming to
Region 3 allocations. The Amateur Service is not generally moved from one allocation to another within an
ITU administration area. Example is the world is divided in three regions, of which New Zealand is in Region
3 - what works or is available here may not work in say Region 1 or 2.
A case in point is that of 614 - 622 MHz allocation where the amateur service has a presence on Channel 39
(615.250 MHz), a spectrum management right now exists. This right is under commercial pressure to remove
the Amateur Service from the allocation. Any loss of this allocation would involve a considerable loss of
asset to the Amateur Service. The lost of this type of allocation to the hobby of amateur radio could not be
measured as a mere lost of a frequency allocation, it must be measured in the lost of a mode of operation.
For those using or having an interest in this mode and allocation there is no suitable replacement, or offer of
Any loss of an allocation is viewed seriously by amateurs, as many of these allocations have been hard
fought for, and if lost no suitable replacement or alternative is found or offered. This lost of allocation further
penalises the Amateur Service and thereby making it less attractive as a hobby.
7. Should Radio Licenses be allocated with more certainty over their term? How and Why?
Currently Radio Licenses in the Amateur Service are covered under the GURL (General Radio User Licence)
if issued to a person or covered separately if issued to a Repeater, Beacon or Fixed Link. As such, once
issued, they are designed to last until, in the case of a person their death; or if a Repeater, Beacon or Fixed
Link until the equipment is removed or not longer required. Therefore under current allocations it would
appear to very attractive for the Amateur Service to retain the status quo.
However, as the Amateur Service has allocations in many bands, the certainty of retaining these allocations
is not defended by having a license to operate and any length of usage or term is no guarantee of tenure.
A case in point is the 614 - 622 MHz, which until recently was an allocation in the Amateur Service. In order
to retain its presence in this band, with licenses issued up and down the country, the MED has moved the
allocation to one of a Spectrum Management Right. As pressure has come on the allocation inside this band,
especially from commercial and non-commercial interests, the mere existence of a license is no guarantee of
continued usage. At this time, there is no suggestion that the Amateur Service is to lose this allocation, but
the point has to be made.
When considering this approach the above example needs to be borne in mind and a balance found
whereby Radio Licenses and Spectrum Management Rights can co- exist.
8. If security of tenure should be provided, should different services be treated differently? What
criteria might be considered in determining a suitable period for security of tenure?
The Amateur Service by its very nature outside the normal radio services, and is one that cannot be readily
compared to other services. To compare the Amateur Service to that of CB (Citizens Band) as an example is
not realistic as the Amateur Service is one that is specifically mentioned in the international radio regulations,
with multiple bands, operating modes, power outputs and the like.
Each service needs to be treated as a service in its own right, then as a service among all services.
The Amateur Service needs to be treated separately, so that it’s interests and future are protected, and
secured for the future.
By conforming to both international and local regulations and procedures, this should be a determining factor
to ensure, a security of tenure is the desired outcome.
With a mix of personal radio licenses (Amateur GURL) and Spectrum Management Rights (the 614 MHz
Band) the suitable period for security of tenure previously mentioned in answer to question seven should
also apply here.
9. In what circumstances would immediate revocation be appropriate?
In answering this question, and without a specific example to rely on, it is hard to develop a positional
statement whether immediate revocation of a band is acceptable.
10. Would a change to the license or regulation be effective to give security of tenure? Is either
Merely changing a licence condition or a regulation may not be an effective way to give a security of tenure.
Within reason both can, at the "stroke of pen" be changed, in some cases, by a government overnight. A full
consultative approach with all interested parties and an agreement perhaps is the best outcome that could
be expected. Some change in the licence and regulation would follow to ensure the change is made and is
enforceable, but it is currently unclear if such a change to ensure security of tenure could be enshrined into
either a licence or regulation. Further consultation on this point would need to be undertaken once all parties
have responded to this discussion paper.
11. Which of the options of a set term or minimum notice for revocation is preferable? Why?
Immediate revocation is always, and should always be a last resort. A term of time, or minimum period
should be used.
12. Should holders of Radio Licenses have defined transitional rights in the event of conversion to
the management rights regime? Why?
Owing to the international facets of the Amateur Service, and the international band use, transition to
other frequencies would not be a workable option. A spectrum management right to Amateurs for Region 3
band plans protecting these allocations would be beneficial to the Amateur Service.
13. Should such rights be to a guaranteed replacement spectrum licence for a set period, or to be
provided a suitable transition path? Are there other options?
In an ideal world, lost of a spectrum management right should be replaced with another, and a suitable
transition period made. It is accepted that with pressure on the bands today, simply giving up one band to be
accommodated "somewhere else" is not always a good outcome. Various costs are associated with such a
move and these need to be factored in. The examples given in the discussion paper namely Creation of
management rights in the 100-108 MHz band and Changes to the 400- 420 MHZ TETRA band show
possible outcomes, over periods of time as to how to manage change.
14. Which option out of changes to licence conditions or regulations, a statement of government
policy or legislative change is preferable to provide security of tenure on conversion of spectrum to
the management rights regime? Why?
Owing to the international facets of the Amateur Service, and the international band use, transition to other
frequencies would not be a workable option. A management right to Amateurs for Region 3 bandplans
protecting these allocations would be beneficial to the Amateur Service.
15. Should financial incentives be payable for changes to radio licences imposed on licensees?
The Amateur Service is by its nature, a non-commercial radio service. The line between cost recovery and a
"commercial" solution at best is sometimes a blurred one. The Amateur Service is one undertaken by
individuals with some radio club involvement. From the examples given in the discussion paper (Changes to
the 400- 420 MHZ TETRA band) it would be difficult to determine who would receive such a financial
consideration. Would an individual, a club or the national body such as NZART be the recipient of such a
16. How would you see such funds being supplied and allocated?
Owing to the international facets of the Amateur Service, and the international band use, an allocation of
funds may not be a workable option.
17. Are there any other issues in the context of this discussion paper that you wish to bring to the
attention of the Ministry?
Not at this time.
The Amateur Service has been in existence for over 90 years. As such it also has the distinction of being the
only non-commercial radio service with special mention in the international radio regulations.
This "special place" in the world, and locally here in New Zealand is important and this "right" needs to be
acknowledged. Whether the Amateur Service is one where both a licence and a spectrum management right
exists is not important, as long as the interest is "registered" and a consultative process is followed then the
security of tenure can be a natural output of this process.
The opportunity to make this submission on this very important topic is appreciated.
A meeting could be arranged for further discussions and before any decisions are made if considered to be
Bruce Douglas ZL2WP (President NZART)
Mark Gooding ZL2UFI (Councillor NZART)
NZART Administration Liaison Officer[s] 13 March 2007