Upskilling the RF workforce on the agenda

Radio Frequency Users Association of New Zealand (RFUANZ)

By Corey Weir, Chairman, RFUANZ
Monday, 18 November, 2019



Upskilling the RF workforce on the agenda

Earlier this year RFUANZ launched the New Zealand Certificate in Electrotechnology (Level 3) in conjunction with Shift ETEC. While this course is aimed at installation technicians and new entrants to the industry, RFUANZ’s long-term goals are to work with industry to further develop subsequent training levels right up to engineering level (ARE). For an industry to attract new blood and continue to grow and develop, it needs to provide a career pathway. Although our industry has plenty of opportunities for young people, a clear progression pathway is not easy to find.

RFUANZ has been speaking with RSM recently on this very topic. RSM, too, has identified future issues with a lack of suitably qualified personnel working their way up through the ranks. Where are our next ARC and AREs being built?

RSM and RFUANZ are looking to plan some industry workshops to discuss this topic and help develop the training pathway through to ARE. RFUANZ would like expressions of interest from the New Zealand RF industry for both participation in these events and also a gauge of how many people are interested in upskilling to ARC or ARE level. Please send any feedback through to admin@rfuanz.org.nz. Further information on the Level 3 Installers Course can be obtained from Carine Vaccari at Shift-Etec, email CarineV@shift.org.nz.

RFUANZ has been discussing the Single Frequency Repeater (SFR) subject with RSM. Single frequency repeater technology uses both slots of a single 12.5 kHz TDMA simplex channel to extend coverage. In a group of radios, the SFR receives calls on slot 1, while simultaneously repeating the call on slot 2. SFR technology is quick to deploy, simple to operate and requires minimal hardware to implement. This technology has many applications such as short-duration coverage extension (events, search and rescue, temporary worksites) and mobile operations (traffic management, harvesting crews, mowing operations).

The issue currently in New Zealand is that RSM’s interpretation of this technology is that it needs to be treated as a repeater. This means that the channel used would need to be licensed to a specific location. This approach, however, will severely limit the benefits of this simple and easy-to-use technology.

RSM has concerns around these devices being used at existing high sites and causing de-sensitising of receivers. While RFUANZ understands RSM’s position, RFUANZ believes with some conditions put in place (such as a limited TX power), the SFR technology should be able to be used on any land mobile simplex channel that has been licensed for the area of operation and TDMA digital emissions. RFUANZ welcomes any feedback on this topic; please send to admin@rfuanz.org.nz.

Further to an earlier announcement regarding G Band, RFUANZ encourages all those in the industry to utilise the 174–184 MHz band (G Band). We have been advised that equipment is now available and can be purchased in New Zealand for use in this band. For more information, please contact an RFUANZ committee member.

Finally, please save the date 6 May 2020, for the RFUANZ annual Gala Dinner to be held once again at Te Papa in Wellington.

Corey Weir, Chairman

Radio Frequency Users Association of New Zealand

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