The hidden costs of amateur repeaters
From time to time we hear about the funding difficulties experienced by clubs who run a repeater often not for the benefit of their own members, but for the wider amateur radio community.
In New South Wales the Lands Department is continuing on its campaign of introducing high site lease charges all in the name of cost recovery and getting a commercial return for access to sites.
Similar things are happening in other parts of Australia which are making repeater operators very anxious. Amateur Radio Victoria funds and licences most of the repeaters in its state, the annual ACMA licence fees are nearly $4000.
Many sites where we have equipment are now controlled by third party entities. This makes it necessary to enter into new lease agreements to use what were previously rent free sites.
Recently DWELP in Victoria informed us of a 350% increase to annual site licences for Crown land, which would severely impacted on our repeater costs following representations by Amateur Radio Victoria on members behalf we have managed to overturn this decision.
There has recently been upgrades to the Western District repeater network with the addition of a new repeater on Mt Rouse. This is now connected through to Mt William and Mt Arapiles giving very wide coverage on 2 metres through out the area. Work has been undertaken at Mt Wombat and Big Ben in country Victoria as well as the upgrade to high definition of VK3RTV and VK3RBO television repeaters.
We have also introduced digital repeaters at Mt View in Melbourne and Mt Buninyong.
Another major new cost for repeater operators is the ongoing monthly cost of Internet access. At the ARV site at Mt Macedon both our DStar and DMR repeaters are able to share a common Internet gateway at a monthly cost of $50. Not all sites can avail themselves of existing Internet infrastructure provided by others, particularly at our more remote sites.
Most amateurs don't understand the amount of effort made by a small number of dedicated people to continually upgrade installations to meet new commercial technical requirements and the continual replacement program for obsolete equipment initiated by Amateur Radio Victoria.
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