25 Years And Still Going Strong!
25 years ago on the 30th November 1993 the first VKS-737 Radio Network Licence was issued by the Spectrum Management Agency, the forerunner of the present Australian Communications and Media Authority.
The licence which was in the name of the SA Association of Four Wheel Drive Clubs, for a single base station located at Hilton with a single frequency of 5455kHz. In those days the licence only covered the base station. We then had to obtain individual licences for each of our subscribers at $48 per subscriber per frequency fitted in the radio In our first year we had one hundred and eleven licences at a cost of $5328.
Luckily licencing conditions changed in 1995 to a system where there is now a charge for each frequency at each base station with no limit on how many Subscriber Licence Authorities are issued. Had the previous method of charging still been in place our yearly licence fees payable to ACMA would be in excess of one million dollars (in 1993 values).
In October 1996 the Australian National 4WD Radio Network was incorporated and the VKS-737 licences were transferred to the new organisation.
In December 1996 the Australian Taxation Office issued approval for the Network to become “a Public Benevolent Institution established for the relief of sickness, suffering, helplessness, destitution and misfortune to a disadvantaged section of the community, being all ‘outback’ travellers who are in distress by providing them with emergency assistance and support in co-operation with other organisations”.
In July an agreement was signed with SA Police to provide a joint safety network for subscribers. SA Police patrol cars and police stations were fitted with VKS-737 frequencies. Similar arrangements are now in place with emergency services in several other states.
In October 2010 the VKS-737 Radio Network formed a partnership with the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia (Queensland Section and Western Operations) to provide Emergency HF radio communications services for the RFDS. As part of the agreement the VKS-737 Radio Network installed new base stations at the RFDS bases in Queensland and Western Australia These bases operate on all VKS-737 frequencies as well as the existing frequencies licensed to the RFDS at the relevant base.
Since 1993 the Network has grown to seven frequencies at all of our nineteen base stations, providing Emergency and General HF communications services for travellers in remote, rural and outback areas of Australia as well as also providing HF Radio-Telephone Services.