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Author Topic: The Influence of Radio Amateur Dealers and Manufacturers on the Licensing Scheme  (Read 6929 times)
K2ACB
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Posts: 64




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« on: December 30, 2011, 01:39:44 PM »

This topic is also an offshoot of my last comment on the thread"Are there still places Where Amatuer Radio an be bought w/o a license"

Besides being a hobby amateur radio is also a business. Considering how many people are employed around the world selling,distributing and manufacturing amateur radio products it probably amounts to well over 100000 . If you take into consideration these peoples families and what they contribute to the upkeep of their famalies you can add another three to four hundred thousand people. That may not amount to many people on a worldwide basis but it still provides a livelihood to those who make their living directly or indirectly from the industry.

The larger the amateur radio market which means the greater number of people who have amateur radio licenses the more new amateur radio equipment will be sold. The more new equipment that is sold the greater incentive it is for radio amateur manufacturers to come out with newer and better equipment.


Perhaps it is no wonder the country with the most radio amateurs in the world at least on paper is Japan with well over one million two hundred thousand radio amateurs. Most of them are not active and at least for the initial license it must have been very easy for the Japanese to obtain this license. But Japan also is the country that today has more manufacturers of amateur radio equipment than any other country in the world.

The country with the second largest radio amateur population,now just over 700000 is the USA. We are the country with the second most number of radio amateur equipment manufacturers after Japan. We used to be the  number one country  in the world in the number of amateur radio manufacturers  until the early 1970's when Japanese amateur radio equipment started coming to the USA in large amounts. . As the number of radio amateurs remained stagnant or our growth was very slow because our growth did not increase very rapidly it did not pay companies like Collins, Hallicrafters, Heathkit  Hammurlund, Drake, National etc,etc etc to remain in business. There were certainly many other causes for the demise of these companies such as they could not compete economically with the Japanese in producing amateur radio equipment . However if the market was large enough  I don't think all of them would have gone out of business when they did. The amateur radio market unlike other markets is a regulated market. It depends on the number of government licensees. The more licensees the larger the market. Practically all of these companies with the exception of Heath and Drake went out of business before the VEC program was initiated in the USA.

Today one of the fastest growing countries with new radio amateurs is China. Up until a few years ago there were hardly any radio amateurs in China. Today there are over 20000. Most of these new Chinese radio amateurs are equivalent to the Technician class licensees in the USA as are  the vast majority of Japanese radio amateurs who are limited to VHF -UHF frequencies. They are not permitted hf operation.

Because of this new demand for radio amateur equipment especially vhf-uhf equipment as well as in other countries like Thailand that now has well over 100000 amateur radio licensees on paper ,Chinese companies which were never heard of a few years ago are now selling their own vhf -uhf equipment especially ht's to compete against the major Japanese manufacturers. I don't know of any American companies that are now manufacturing vhf -uhf equipment and HT's for the amateur radio market. The Chinese are under pricing their Japanese competitors . There is even a debate among some radio amateurs that price vs price the Chinese radio equipment is just as good as the Japanese. The Chinese are also on a limited scale even beggining to sell some hf equipment for the radio amateur markets.


This  benefits dealers and manufacturers of radio amateur equipment and accessories. It gives them an incentive to manufacture and sell more of their products. The argument can be made that making it easier for radio amateurs to obtain radio licenses around the world benefits from an economic perspective dealers and manufacturers of amateur radio equipment.  The USA, is  the largest market in the world for the buying and selling of radio amateur equipment. The more radio amateurs who are licensed the greater the market and bigger incentive for the dealers and manufacturers to sell their equipment. the dealers and manufacturers want a free market to sell their products. they want the least government restrictions as possible.

I doubt if their was not a substantial market out there for the buying and selling of hf equipment Elecraft would never have started. Unlike a lot of other radio amateur radio manufacturing companies elecraft  only limits their sales to HF radios and do not manufacture radios also for commercial or military uses as do most of the other manufacturers of amateur radios .


The argument can be made that making it easier for radio amateurs to obtain around the world amateur radio licenses helps dealers and amateur radio manufacturers sell more of their products. It is no secret that many radio amatuer dealers in the USA and manufacturers of amateur radio equipment and accessories openly advocated the ending of the cw requirement for hf operation in the USA. This opened the way for many more radio amateurs in the USA to get general class licenses and thus buy more hf equipment from the dealers and the manufacturers. The largest supporter of the ARRL after individual members are the dealers and manufacturers who advertize in QST. I don't think the ARRL would come out for any restrictive measures in licensing or rules and regulations  that would directly or indirectly penalize their advertisors.

In other countries like the UK and Australia in recent years a new easier class of license was started. I think it is called the Foundation license in the UK. These licenses which are much easier to obtain than the regular amateur radio license also allow the holders of these licenses to operate hf equipment as well but at restricted output(I think less than 50 watts) on select hf bands.This does not prevent these new licensed radio amateurs from buying standard 100 watt or more hf transceivers and accessories.

I heard that these new class of licenses in the UK and Australia besides being advocated by the Radio Societies in these countries, like the RSGB and the Australian Wireless Society  was also supported very strongly by amateur radio dealers and amateur radio manufacturers and their distributorships in these countries as well. Certainly the number of amateur radio licenses in the UK and Australia has risen since these new licenses were created several years ago

There is no data that I9 have seen that correlates or substantiates the position at least in the USA that dealers and amateur radio manufacturing companies either want to make it easier directly or indirectly for amateur radio operators here to obtain a license. However the more radio amateur licensees there are in the USA and around the world it should also seem that the more amateur radio equipment will be sold . The easier the license to obtain and the less costly the equipment including problems of hf antenna restrictions would benefit more those who are on vhf-uhf. That is why for every hf piece of amateur radio gear that is sold both here in the USA  and abroad three to four times of the amount of vhf-uhf radio equipment is sold.



It used to be before the breakup of the USSR when most amateur radio operation in the USSR was severely restricted to radio club operations especially on hf,very few Russian amateur radio operators had good equipment. Most of the stations at that time on hf had a lot of homebrew equipment. That could also have been because of their economic system and that radio amateurs were bound by certain ideological restrictions as well. Most Russian radio amateurs did not have access to American or Japanese radio equipment at that time.

Today I think their are a lot more Russian radio amateurs  after the breakup of the USSR then there were before. From personal experience working them I can say that there are a lot more  Russian radio amateurs  active now then there was then and they are no longer bound by ideological constraints, Then it was very rare for a Russian station to give you more than a report . Hardly any of them would ragchew.

Today I speak to many of them whether it be on SSB or CW (most of my hf operations are on SSB,occasionally on CW). There seems to be a lot more Russian radio amateurs on the air now than when Russia was part of the USSR. Many of them have very good equipment some even have top of the line from American and Japanese Amateur Radio equipment. Maybe it is now much easier to obtain a radio license in Russia than in the bad old days when ideology was also required to get a Russian amteur radio license


Thus there maybe something to the hypothesis that it is in the best interesy of amateur radio dealers and amateur radio manufacturers around the world to see that there are more radio amateurs around the world. This means from the perspective of the dealers and manufacturers of amateur radio equipment the easier it is around the world to obtain a license and the lesser restrictions imposed on radio amateurs the more equipment they will sell. The greater their sales also means the more incentive it is for them to come out with new products for the radio amateur market. Any restrictions including licensing  that will impede the growth of the hobby will have a direct affect on their economic being.

73
Alan-K2ACB




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M0HCN
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« Reply #1 on: December 30, 2011, 02:15:27 PM »

In other countries like the UK and Australia in recent years a new easier class of license was started. I think it is called the Foundation license in the UK. These licenses which are much easier to obtain than the regular amateur radio license also allow the holders of these licenses to operate hf equipment as well but at restricted output(I think less than 50 watts) on select hf bands.This does not prevent these new licensed radio amateurs from buying standard 100 watt or more hf transceivers and accessories.

Foundation is 10W, all bands except some high microwave bands. Commercial equipment only, no /MM.
It is broadly equivalent in level to the US Technician exam, and from what I have seen while it can be abused, few do.

Intermediate is ah different to the US General in that it has a practical element, requiring that some kind of simple circuit be built (a DC RX or VFO is common) and that various experiments be demonstrated, gets you 50W. Again it could be abused, but the difference to a 100W rig is only 3dB, and in my experience few do.

Advanced (That I will be taking at the end of January) is a fairly nasty thing unless you have an EE background as it asks some very subtle questions on aspects of radio engineering and is hard for even a very good radio engineer to get more then about 85% on (Passmark is 60%, all exams have a closed question pool), gets you 400W and /MM along with a few other privileges, fortunately I have been playing with electronics since I was about 6 so not a problem.....

Of course the manufacturers lobbied for easier exams, but actually the difficulty of getting an entry to the hobby was a well recognized problem for a long time over here given the (more or less) demise of CB as an entry route.
Creating something the equivalent of a US Technician license reduced that barrier, for all that the step between intermediate and advanced is still a huge one.

Actual reality is that anyone, licensed or not can pick up a transceiver almost no questions asked, and has been able to for a long time, but it does not appear to be a major issue. 

At any level the license exam is at most a test of minimum required knowhow, IMHO it in no way should be seen as a destination, it is a starting point for further learning and research, as are all such tests.

Regards, Dan.
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N2EY
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« Reply #2 on: December 31, 2011, 08:22:52 AM »

The larger the amateur radio market which means the greater number of people who have amateur radio licenses the more new amateur radio equipment will be sold. The more new equipment that is sold the greater incentive it is for radio amateur manufacturers to come out with newer and better equipment.

Well, maybe.

The amateur radio market is tiny compared to most other "consumer electronics" markets. It's not just that there are relatively few hams but that the equipment tends to last a very long time and be sold and resold. 

Quote from: KF5LJW;2423327
Perhaps it is no wonder the country with the most radio amateurs in the world at least on paper is Japan with well over one million two hundred thousand radio amateurs. Most of them are not active and at least for the initial license it must have been very easy for the Japanese to obtain this license.

Nope. You don't understand how Japanese amateur radio works.

In Japan, there is a clear distinction between the operator license and the station license. Operator licenses are free and do not expire. Station licenses cost a nominal fee and must be renewed. In addition, a Japanese ham can hold as many as 4 different operator licenses (because there are 4 license classes), all of which will never expire.

Japan began issuing amateur licenses under those rules in 1952, which means that operator license totals include every operator license issued in the past 59 years. Imagine if FCC kept records the same way!

The number of station licenses in Japan is far less - fewer than half a million.

Quote from: KF5LJW;2423327
But Japan also is the country that today has more manufacturers of amateur radio equipment than any other country in the world.

How do you know?

Quote from: KF5LJW;2423327
The country with the second largest radio amateur population,now just over 700000 is the USA. We are the country with the second most number of radio amateur equipment manufacturers after Japan. We used to be the  number one country  in the world in the number of amateur radio manufacturers  until the early 1970's when Japanese amateur radio equipment started coming to the USA in large amounts. . As the number of radio amateurs remained stagnant or our growth was very slow because our growth did not increase very rapidly it did not pay companies like Collins, Hallicrafters, Heathkit  Hammurlund, Drake, National etc,etc etc to remain in business.

But that's not what happened. The number of US hams grew dramatically all through the 1970s and 1980s.

Quote from: KF5LJW;2423327
There were certainly many other causes for the demise of these companies such as they could not compete economically with the Japanese in producing amateur radio equipment . However if the market was large enough  I don't think all of them would have gone out of business when they did.

What really happened to the US amateur radio manufacturers is the same as what happened to a lot of other US manufacturing.

Quote from: KF5LJW;2423327
The amateur radio market unlike other markets is a regulated market. It depends on the number of government licensees. The more licensees the larger the market. Practically all of these companies with the exception of Heath and Drake went out of business before the VEC program was initiated in the USA.

What about TenTec? It was founded in 1968, and by the late 1970s was doing a booming business. By 1983-84, when the VEC system was put in place, TT was a major supplier of ham rigs right here in the USA..

US amateur radio manufacturers like National and Hallicrafters went out of the amateur radio manufacturing business for reasons that had nothing to do with license requirements. Nothing at all.

Consider what happened to US manufacturing of TV sets. Once upon a time, the USA led the world in TV manufacture, but in the 1970s-1980s that lead was lost. I don't know if there is any manufacturing of TV sets left in the USA at all today. Not only is there no license required for a TV set but there is increased demand for them.

Quote from: KF5LJW;2423327
Today one of the fastest growing countries with new radio amateurs is China. Up until a few years ago there were hardly any radio amateurs in China. Today there are over 20000. Most of these new Chinese radio amateurs are equivalent to the Technician class licensees in the USA as are  the vast majority of Japanese radio amateurs who are limited to VHF -UHF frequencies. They are not permitted hf operation.

All classes of Japanese amateur radio license are permitted some HF operation. Been that way since the beginning. I don't know about China. Where do you get your statistics?

Quote from: KF5LJW;2423327
I doubt if their was not a substantial market out there for the buying and selling of hf equipment Elecraft would never have started. Unlike a lot of other radio amateur radio manufacturing companies elecraft  only limits their sales to HF radios and do not manufacture radios also for commercial or military uses as do most of the other manufacturers of amateur radios .

Elecraft started because they saw a market niche that wasn't being addressed. Many Elecraft models do CW only. They also make transverters for VHF/UHF and some models are capable of 6 meters right out of the box, so they do not limit their sales to "HF radios" only.

What holds back the number of US hams isn't the license requirements. They have been reduced to the point that "Technician in a day" classes are available, and have a very high success rate.

What limits our growth are the following:

1) There are only so many people who are interested in "radio for its own sake", which is what amateur radio is really all about. You could give away licenses and equipment, and the vast majority of people would say "no thank you, I've got a cell phone/internet/etc."

2) Lack of publicity

3) Antenna restrictions

4) Lack of know-how. Simply making the license easy to get doesn't mean a new ham will know what to do with it.

Making the licenses easier to get is not the answer.

73 de Jim, N2EY
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W4KYR
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« Reply #3 on: December 31, 2011, 12:49:07 PM »


 I heard awhile ago that MFJ is actually the largest ham radio company in the world. And they are based out of Mississippi right here in the  U.S.
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N5RWJ
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« Reply #4 on: January 20, 2012, 02:14:17 PM »

When it comes to an Amateur license, we should ask what we need to know, and not what we should know? I think in the future Our license well need sceptred endorsements , for different type of digital modes, and in the way future and to work Mars and the Moon?He HE
« Last Edit: January 23, 2012, 01:03:34 PM by N5RWJ » Logged
M0HCN
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« Reply #5 on: January 20, 2012, 02:34:13 PM »

The license should not really be testing that you know how to make successful use of the kit, just that you know how to stay within license conditions and how to avoid interference to others. In this, most digi modes are broadly similar, so why license per mode?

regards, Dan.
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N5RWJ
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« Reply #6 on: January 21, 2012, 10:36:32 AM »

The license should not really be testing that you know how to make successful use of the kit, just that you know how to stay within license conditions and how to avoid interference to others. In this, most digi modes are broadly similar, so why license per mode?

regards, Dan.
I agree Dan.
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AE6ZW
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« Reply #7 on: February 08, 2012, 12:10:33 AM »

I actually like to see, we have entry level license lower than technician license.   perhaps  limited to 50 watts or so and 30 MHz or higher.  in Japan we had entry level license class, which can be obtain either by passing exam, or attending seminar course.  perhaps , in US we can do something like that.   anyone who  attend all of the classes / courses.   instructor can give hand on demonstration on how to use radio, how to set up antenna, where to connect, soldering connector.  That would be sufficient knowledge to operate radio satisfactory.  Probably even better than passing  exam on paper.  //  VHF Marine radio , which does not require operator's license,  people seems to know how to use it and which CH to talk on, etc.  and they seems to able to set up radio correctly.  so I don't see any difference in HAM radio, despite VHF Marine radio concern safety / lives of people directly. there is not seems to be a much trouble.
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N3DF
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« Reply #8 on: February 08, 2012, 01:05:54 PM »

Given some direction, motivated middle schoolers pass the Technician exam almost routinely.  Just how easy does the entry-level license test have to be?
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Neil N3DF
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