International Amateur Radio Union President Tim Ellam, VE6SH/G4HUA, says Amateur Radio is “probably more relevant today than it was 25 years ago.”
“We’re so dependent now on all kinds of systems of communications — everyone has a cell phone, everyone is used to using the Internet — but they’re not used to what happens when those systems go down,” Ellam said. “Amateur Radio is there” and “there are also advancements in technology that we rely on.”
Ellam pointed out that hams can use computer-based digital techniques to pass message traffic at very low power levels and under poor propagation conditions. “Amateur Radio has kept pace by developing new ways to communicate,” he said.
“Amateur operators are on the ground. If they’re not close to the site of a disaster, they might even be in it. They’re there. They’re ready to go. For the first 24 to 48 hours you have people on the ground, ready to assist. They own their own equipment. They don’t rely on commercial networks. If cellular service goes down, we can assist by using HF, VHF or UHF communications on a peer-to-peer basis.”
“Don’t forget the Amateur Radio services. They’re a great asset to [a community, state or nation] in times of crisis.”