Amateur Radio, also known as Ham Radio, is the use of radio frequency spectrum for purposes of non-commercial exchange of messages, wireless experimentation, self-training, private recreation, radio-sport, contesting, and emergency communication. The term “Amateur” is used to specify “a duly authorized person interested in radio-electric practice with a purely personal aim and without pecuniary interest” (either direct monetary or other similar reward) and to differentiate it from commercial broadcasting, public safety (such as police and fire), or professional two-way radio services (such as maritime, aviation, taxis, etc.).
The Amateur Radio Service is established by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) through the Radio Regulations. In Canada, Industry, Science and Economic Development Canada regulates technical and operational characteristics of transmissions and issue individual station licenses with an identifying call sign. Prospective Amateur Operators are tested for their understanding of key concepts in electronics and Canada’s radio regulations.
Radio Amateurs use a variety of voice, text, image, and data communications modes and have access to frequency allocations throughout the RF spectrum. This enables communication across a city, region, country, continent, the world, or even into space. In many countries, Amateur Radio Operators may also send, receive, or relay radio communications between computers or transceivers connected to secure virtual private networks on the Internet.
Nationally, Amateur Radio is officially represented by Radio Amateurs of/du Canada (RAC), which sits as a member of the Radio Advisory Board of Canada, and works with our regulator to ensure continued access to our spectrum. Additionally, we are represented internationally by the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU), which is organized in three regions and has as its members the various national amateur radio societies (RAC is a member of the IARU). According to an estimate made in 2011 by the American Radio Relay League (ARRL), two million people throughout the world are regularly involved with Amateur Radio. About 830,000 Amateur Radio stations are located in IARU Region 2 (the Americas) followed by IARU Region 3 (South and East Asia and the Pacific Ocean) with about 750,000 stations. A significantly smaller number, about 400,000, are located in IARU Region 1 (Europe, Middle East, CIS, Africa).