More than just a Ham radio blog.
is an informative, cynical and sometimes humorous look at what is happening in the world of amateur radio.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Spectrum is Green for Go

The RSGB have finally decided it is time to come out fighting on the issues of PLA (Power Line Network Adapters) and PLT (Broadband Over Power Line Transmission) by taking legal action on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of radio amateurs and other radio spectrum users effected by the horrendous interference most of these devices emit. Ofcom have prove singularly dismissive of the problems preferring to side with the powerful and influential businesses behind the ventures.

The first stage is a fighting fund and in January’s issue of Radcom they announce the formation of the Spectrum Defence Fund. RSGB’s lawyers have suggested the first stage is a judicial review that could cost over £75,000 (I suggest someone missed off a few zeros there) and there is no guarantee of success.

RSGB say that now is the time to stand up and be counted and make it known that we, as a community of radio amateurs and short wave listeners alike are not prepared to accept any level of interference from non-compliant devices. We are looking to our administration, Ofcom, to protect our interests, which is their statutory duty. This is a long-term project and all monies donated will be ring-fenced for those actions alone.

To donate to the Spectrum Defence Fund please make cheques payable to The Spectrum Defence Fund and send them to:
Spectrum Defence,
3 Abbey Court,
Priory Business Park,
Bedford MK44 3WH.

Alternative methods of payment such as PayPal etc will be announced in due course.

The RSGB is appreciative of the efforts and support from Society members, the UKQRM group and its membership, among many others.

You can now donate on-line to the Spectrum Defence Fund at www.rsgb.org/defencefund

Personally I think every one should consider a few things before donating-

The chances of success are going to depend on having the very best legal representation and that costs. A decent barrister probably would not get out of bed for £75,000 and unless both he and the Judge are vaguely familiar with amateur radio the chance of success are minimal. I suspect if we want to win that a final bill no less than two million pounds is quite likely and even then the other parties may appeal. I am in touch with some friends who are involved with what appears to be an open and shut case of criminal negligence and their legal bill is already over £250,000 before they get to court and is no-where near as complex as this case is likely to be. So the question is am I throwing away my money by supporting this project? If we avert this threat will some other damnation spring up in its place? And if we do win who is going to go around and collect all the thousands of PLA devices already out there?
Having said all that we all give buckets full of money away to charities such as Cancer Relief, The Heart Foundation and Famine Relief and none of then have solved their much more important problems. Maybe donating is not about the winning or even about faith in the cause but simply about joining the fight because it is the right thing to do.

I have to say that the Spectrum Defence Fund is a great name but that logo is not very inspiring. If they had used the one from Captain Scarlet I would have been right in there. Tee shirt sales alone could raise enough to fund a dozen court cases.

Launch Angels to intersept enemy jamming devices SIG.


  1. I think your estimate of barrister fees is slightly over the top. Actually even the threat of a serious legal challenge could force Ofcom to change its stance, since if it went to court it too would have to engage legal counsel and that would cost money that may not be in its budget.

    This is what the RSGB should have done in the first place, instead of leaving "Mike and Smiffy" whoever they are to mount a campaign on our behalf.

    Frankly I'm no more optimistic of the chances of success than the RSGB is but I've already donated £20 because I think this is amateur radio's last chance and I don't think we should go out without a fight, do you?

  2. Hi Julian, My past experience of things legal has left me to believe that in this country justice is for the rich. I do not think my estimate is too far over the top by the time you factor in the cost of the legal teams, costs of supplying expert witnesses and multiple appeals. Barristers on £1,000 an hour plus travelling expenses with a back up team working for months preparing the case.
    One divorce case someone I know was involved in cost them £75,000 and then they lost even though they were the injured party. They then had to pay off their ex-partner. A friends daughter is involved with the negligence case I mention and their legal team have eaten through £250,000 pounds and have asked for an equivilent amount to continue and nothing has even come to court yet. Legal battles are always costly even if the other party backs down before in reachs court.

    However having said all that I agree with you that everyone should send what they can. Even if we cannot win we have to go down fighting. After all it is part of the British Spirit to never give up even against overwhelming odds.