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back to article Scotland Mountain Rescue turns on Ofcom

Volunteer mountain-rescue staff in Scotland are being asked to write to the UK regulator Ofcom to complain about increased spectrum prices that could drive them out of the life-saving business. The BBC reports that the Mountain Rescue Committee of Scotland has asked its members to write to the regulator in response to the …

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Mountain Rescue

Having served on Mountain Rescue in Scotland in my younger days, when I was still in my 20s over 50 years ago, I heartily concur that Radio is a necessity for this service. In my days, the 1950s, the portable radio weighed in at around 70lbs, whatever that is in new money,and if you drew the short straw you were lumbered and you lost wieght and mobility when you had the antenna erected. Can't remember the frequency but it relied on something like 10 feet of copper sticking up to get signals and was unreliable over greater distances than 800 yards. Today's technology means that it is possible to pack a more reliable set of gear into a pocket sized piece of equipment and I have, personally, a set of four handsets which I used when taking my granddaughters out so that they could be in contact for any possible emergencies. They are m obile phones and are usable up to a couple of miles apart with great reliability, dependant on the surrounding terrain. On the flat, ie line of sight, I could rely on them for about 9 or 10 miles and frequently used them at this distance. No hassle regarding frequency allocation or payment for an imagined service as I was using the assigned frequency and could/can vary the actual frequency required by varying amounts in order to use the band more effficiently and get more signals in plus, I could issue specific frequencies to each girl so that I knew with whom I was in contact. At about £50:00 per set it was, I thjopught, money well spent.

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Handsets - base stations ?

@Francis:

Handsets are fine point-to-point out in the field, as a "private channel", but don't forget you need to have contact back to vehicles and base which could be well over 10 miles away, plus the RAF Sea Kings need to be able to talk to you which means they have to have a small set of standard frequencies using onboard equipment ... not a couple of 1W Motorola handsets from Comet.

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Someone is askig for a spamming here...

"If you remain dissatisfied, you may refer your complaint to the Chairman of the Ofcom Board. Please contact the office of the Secretary to the Corporation Graham Howell (graham.howell@ofcom.org.uk) who will refer your complaint to the Chairman."

as nicely pointed out here by Richard Brown....I say everyone on here - pass it onto your friends too, and family and co-workers - compose a nicely worded letter to this chap. He might ignore it or send automatic responses for a while but, once enough mails are a-cloggin' up his inbox.......well...maybe they'll listen...then forward any responses onto a reliable media outlet (or an unreliable one like The Sun or Daily Mail....they'd luuuuuurve a story like this one, use them to our advantage) if they happen to be unfavourable......if we're still a democracy, let's make use of our democratic right to protest to bodies meant for this purpose....

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@I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

Despite the vocal minority in Scotland, we're not all burn-the-english lynch mobs, you know. Try to remember, the SNP are only in power because of Labour's complete inability to find their arse with both hands.

Most of us don't want independence (otherwise the second hand car salesman known as Salmond would have called a referendum already) and most of us get on just fine with the English.

As for Ofcom, they can just fuck right off IMO.

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Police Authority

@ Nano nano

"Unless things have changed, it's the police that officially calls in the volunteer rescue teams and also issues the radio permits and covers the team members insurance when on official callouts, so the police is the body that should be kicking up a fuss."

You are quite correct here - Cave Rescue Voulenteer

(And it's actually Cave Rescue that perform the Mountain Rescue and SARDA tasks in many areas - Yorkshire and Derbyshire for instance!)

Oh, and before anyone points out that the frequencies mentioned will not propogate underground. We use 87KHz for through-rock communications, but we still need communications on the surface.

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Government by beancounter

They know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Maybe if OFCOM is so worried about efficient use of the spectum they could offer some advice to charities on how to achieve this - I'm sure thay would be happy to co-operate.

Of course it's easier to just stick an invoice in the post.

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Mountain Rescue radio discipline

Francis - I came a bit past your time, when we had the 80MHz Philips sets (not sure if they've moved on, this was circa 1993). From my four years in a Mountain Rescue team in the Peak District, I can attest that the radio discipline we used was quasi-military, keeping everything short, concise and to the point, with very strict protocols, and someone writing down what was said in a log (yes, pen & paper!). Thus, the excuse that Mountain Rescue uses up so much spectrum or that we somehow 'waste' it is bollocks, excuse my French.

To me, this is someone's private agenda to give themselves a medal for raising OFCOM's 2009 revenues, even at times of crisis. Fund raising was one of the hardest things we did, and it took us years to get enough money to buy a 4x4 ambulance, as an example - and they want to waste it on licensing?

Finally, Rescue teams only use radios during training exercises and shouts, which (OK, stretching things a bit) could be considered emergencies - wasn't there a provision in telecomms law that allows anyone the use of any communication device on any frequency in case of an emergency? I'd love to see a judge who sentences a member of Mountain Rescue for using his radio during an emergency situation.

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Anonymous Coward

Sorry just an outsider

But are they trying to make people in the UK revolt. I mean this is a load of shit. Would charge they police an insane amount ?? I don't know how it is in the UK but here in America there are set aside for emergency service frequencies .

Visit my web site for pitch forks ,and torches . WWW.correctinggov.com

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A reply from Ofcom

I asked OFCOM about this and..Here's a shock! They actually replied!!!!

Thank you Mr XXXX for your email to Graham Howell of OFCOM Senior Management Group.

I would like to assure you that we will consider all representations very carefully before taking any decisions on the level of fees, if any, to apply to the RNLI's use of radio spectrum. We have asked interested parties to respond to the current consultation by 30 October. After considering responses we expect to make a more formal proposal later this year which will give people a further opportunity to comment before any decisions are taken. Thank you once again for your helpful contribution."

I have attached a hyperlink to navigate you towards our webpage that discusses the above mentioned process. Here you can respond with the online consultation form (under the heading “How to respond”).

http://www.ofcom.org.uk/consult/condocs/aip/

Yours sincerely

Aaron

:: Ofcom Licensing Centre

Central Operations - Head of Ofcom Licensing Centre

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OFCOM listening, or knee-jerk reactions?

Having read this in outrage and gone straight to the OFCOM website to find out what on earth they could be thinking, I found an updated document has been posted that puts a different slant on things.

http://www.ofcom.org.uk/consult/condocs/aip/update201008/

Among other comments, they state that the MCA licences cover search and rescue spectra, and as such mountain rescue teams do not have to pay for their licences, and that with new multi-transmitter discounts the RNLI may end up paying less than £20000, rather than the £38000 they currently pay.

So what do we think - the power of El Reg to the rescue again, or OFCOM concerns misunderstood and badly represented?

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