On this day in 1925, the IARU was formed in Paris. Since then, on 18 April every year, radio amateurs worldwide have taken to the airwaves to celebrate World Amateur Radio Day. Today, the hobby is more popular than ever, with more than 3 million licensed operators worldwide, according to the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU).
We often hear about amateur radio assisting during disasters when cellphone networks and the Internet is down for extended periods, but not many know that amateurs also regularly assist with coordinating communications for large scale public events where there are areas with no cellphone coverage (car rallies, cycling tours, etc), as well as during mountain and wilderness rescue where again vital emergency communications must be coordinated between the rescue teams and emergency services. Here in Cape Town we have HAMNET who perform these services almost weekly.
The International Space Station also has amateur radio operators on board and amateurs also conduct a lot of experiments and pioneering around the use of radio still today. With just a few Watts of power an amateur can communicate to the opposite side of Earth using digital modes, and even bounce their signals off the Moon.
ITU News caught up with Lisa Leenders to learn what amateur or "ham" radio means to her as a young operator, and its role - and revival - amid the COVID-19 pandemic.