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World Amateur Radio Day: IARU celebrates a century of connections

By Timothy Ellam KC (VE6SH), President, International Amateur Radio Union

When amateur radio pioneers first gathered in Paris on 18 April 1925, they created the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) to support their activities worldwide. Since then, the IARU has worked tirelessly to defend and expand the official frequency allocations for amateur radio.

Thanks to the support of enlightened administrations in every part of the globe, radio amateurs can experiment and communicate in frequency bands that are strategically located throughout the radio spectrum. From 25 countries in 1925, the IARU has grown to include over 160 member-societies today.

Next year marks the centenary of the IARU’s founding, an event to be celebrated worldwide. A conference and dinner in Paris will mark the big occasion next April.

In the meantime, the IARU is kicking off its centenary celebrations on 18 April – World Amateur Radio Day. Our theme for this year is A Century of Connections: Celebrating 100 years of Amateur Radio Innovation, Community and Advocacy.

A gateway to STEM experience

We will celebrate what we have achieved for amateur radio services over the last 100 years, the work we have done to drive innovation, and how we continue supporting the worldwide community. Amateur radio has always been a critical part of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) training, and many leaders in global communications can trace the start of their careers to the amateur services.

We have also been leaders in the field of innovation, with numerous technical advances in communications tracing back to pioneers in amateur radio. Amateur operators, of course, have always provided effective and resilient emergency communications, giving them a vital role in times of crisis.

As an advocate and representative for the amateur services, the IARU is a proud and active member of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). We were first admitted into the work of the Consultative Committee on International Radio (CCIR), the forerunner to today’s ITU Radiocommunication Sector (ITU–R), in 1932.

We have continued contributing to ITU’s radiocommunications and emergency response activities ever since. Nowadays, the IARU is an active participant in ITU’s Telecommunication Development Sector (ITU-D) as well as in ITU-R.

We have collaborated closely on the Smart Sustainable Development Model, the Global Forum on Emergency Telecommunications, and other digital development initiatives.

A century of innovation, community, and advocacy

Today, amateur radio is more popular than ever, with more than 3,000,000 licensed operators around the world. Notably, ITU has recognized the IARU as representing the interests of amateur radio services and licensees.

In nearly a century of engagement, IARU has helped to grow the amateur services into a well-recognized partner in global communications. Our forthcoming centenary is an opportunity to celebrate these achievements.

On 18 April each year, operators around the world take part in World Amateur Radio Day. This is a day when IARU member-societies can show their capabilities to the public and enjoy friendships with other amateurs worldwide.

We proudly share the good work done by amateur radio operators, their innovations in the science of communications, and what we do for the global community.

While these services have been in operation for over a century, 1924 was the first year that intercontinental amateur communications became commonplace. The field has witnessed unparalleled technological advances since then – part of the reason amateur radio is so crucial for global communications and timely emergency response today.

Amateur advocacy

The IARU relies on volunteers from many countries and communities to represent the amateur services at international and regional regulatory bodies. Thanks to the tireless work of our officials and volunteers, the IARU has achieved unmatched success as an ITU sector member.

This was clear at ITU’s latest World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-23), which strengthened the regulatory safeguards on spectrum allocations for amateur radio.

Learn more about WRC-23 outcomes from the IARU’s perspective.

We look forward to working further with ITU in our next centenary.

Learn more about the IARU and World Amateur Radio Day.

Header image credit: ITU

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