RFUANZ report: Passing the baton

Radio Frequency Users Association of New Zealand (RFUANZ)

By John Laughton and Justin Wonderlick
Thursday, 13 July, 2023


RFUANZ report: Passing the baton

A fond farewell

As the outgoing Chairman I would like to thank the committee for the two years at the helm, with a particular note of thanks to Corey and Debby for mentoring me in the role and always being available to bounce ideas off when needed. Thanks are also due to the various members of ARCIA, WISPA RSM and Critical Comms who I have interacted with over the last few years, too many to name but you know who you are. Finally, to our sponsors, partners and members, without your ongoing support RFUANZ would cease to exist.

Over the two years I have gained some unexpected experiences. At the height of COVID we managed to have the only Comms Connect event for two years in 2021, during which I was unexpectedly nominated for the role of Chairman. Then we went back in lockdown and out again, followed by a year of uncertainty. During this time Comms Connect rolled the dice on the new convention centre in Christchurch, this being the first time we had the event in the South Island of New Zealand. This was then followed by Comms Connect Melbourne in October last year, which I was lucky enough to attend with the support of the committee.

Comms Connect NZ 2023 in June made it evident that we’re all back better than ever, with unseen numbers on the floor and the biggest Gala Dinner to date. The event as it stands at Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre will be remembered by myself as the highlight of my career in the radio industry. The talk on the floor was about getting new blood into the industry; the ‘how’ is still being formed as to ways to get out there, make the connections and bring them to the table.

RFUANZ is in good hands with Justin Wonderlick stepping into the role, bringing his years of technical and professional excellence to the head of the table. Good luck Justin, so long, and thanks for all the fish.

John Laughton

Outgoing Chairman

Radio Frequency Users Association of New Zealand

Engaging our purpose

As the newly elected Chair of RFUANZ, it is my pleasure and privilege to address the coming year ahead. However, I would first like to thank John Laughton for his efforts and time as Chairman over the last several years as well as everyone involved with a great Comms Connect show and Gala Dinner.

While I must say I was not expecting this turn of events in becoming Chairman, nor having to be prepared to speak at the Gala Dinner, I was reminded by several friends afterwards that I should have told you who I am. I can say quickly that my time working in telecommunications came about from working within the electricity utility business — where things must work reliably and be built to endure. Like electricity, being able to communicate is something that can make you feel helpless when you no longer have it — and is rarely thought about when you do have it. It is this purpose that drives me to provide services and now service to the RFUANZ membership.

Having moved to Hawke’s Bay last year to work with Unison, the local electricity distributor, Cyclone Gabrielle harshly reminded me of how important the radio industry is and the abilities of our members to provide support in emergency situations. While the region lost cellular communications, electricity and internet from days to weeks, the local LMR networks were operating through the entire ordeal. It is these services that can provide the wherewithal and capability to help coordinate efforts to bring essential services back to the population. Unfortunately, I believe we need to bring these capabilities back to the forefront of government, emergency services and local business understanding. They may not be 5G or Ultrafast Fibre services bringing faster internet speeds; however, LMR is constantly evolving and provides simple and effective communication which time after time proves its worth in the worst of situations and when you need it most.

In the year ahead we have several initiatives which we hope to bring benefit to our members. The Level 4 education course is continuing to gather steam and we are looking to get a great foundation for future radio installers, technicians and engineers. Furthermore, we wish to engage with our members more closely regarding the new RSM Register of Radio Frequencies (RRF) as well as the future Radio Licence fee review. I will be encouraging our committee members to engage with our members, and I encourage our members to reach out to us as well.

I will remind our members that there is a big blue button on the top right of our website (https://rfuanz.org.nz) which opens a simple message service — drop us a note, let us know what it is we are doing well or not. Let us know if you would like someone to talk to about your concerns or issues.

Justin Wonderlick

Chairman — ARE182

Radio Frequency Users Association of New Zealand

Image credit: iStock.com/BrianAJackson

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