Frequently Asked Questions

Last Updated by Julian – June 2016

This page is intended to give information to organisers of events – such as fun-runs and marathons, sponsored walks and cycle rides, or horse events – who may be wondering if Raynet could help on the day. If you don’t find your particular question answered, please feel free to contact us here.

What does Raynet do?
Raynet is a voluntary emergency service specialising in communications: We mainly exist to provide communications backup to the emergency services and government and local authority departments in times of need. We have been involved at Lockerbie, in the Chichester floods, and on the night that telephone services in Hampshire failed, to name just a few. As volunteers we also practice our skills by providing communications cover on events like those listed above.

Can Raynet work on any event?
Not exactly – we are constrained by the conditions of the amateur radio licence, and can only operate on behalf on one of the authorised user services: On your event, these may be the St John Ambulance Brigade or British Red Cross, or if your event involves public roads, the Police. However now with many private Ambulance services providing cover for events who are not one of our user services, you most certainly will have been liaising with the local authority and you can ask them to authorise us to operate on your event. If you haven’t already considered involving them in your event, perhaps now would be a good time to ask them! Note that there are a number of other authorised user services, but these are the ones most likely to be involved in an event.

So how can Raynet help me?
Once you’ve involved one of the user services, discuss with them whether Raynet could contribute to your event: If you only cover a small area they may feel that their own communication systems will do all that’s needed. If they do decide to ask us to be there, we can provide communications between checkpoints, event officials’ vehicles, the start and finish and almost any other location deemed appropriate. And although we are operating on behalf of the user service, as part of our on going training, the information we’re passing will be useful to you too: Positions of first and last runners or riders, locations of any problems around the route, and news of any withdrawals.

Can’t we just use mobile phones?
Well you can – but there are three reasons why you might not want to:

  • It’s one more thing for you to do: You specialise in organising your event, we specialise in communication. Whatever your event, we’ve probably covered something like it before, and can take a job from your shoulders.
  • Mobile phones only work from person to person…imagine the work involved in passing a message to every checkpoint on your event! We can do it all in one go.
  • Although they are improving there are still some areas where mobile phones don’t work. We can communicate almost from anywhere to anywhere, putting in our own temporary repeater stations if necessary!

If you are going to use mobile phones for your event communication, we strongly recommend that you take the phones you’re planning to use, into the areas where you’ll be using them, to check signal strengths. Remember that just because a phone connected to one service provider works in a particular place, there’s no guarantee that another provider’s phone will or my not work on the day – In country areas due to wet trees or trees in leaf..!

What about the little walkie-talkies that are available?
As with mobile phones, you can use these, but the range is very short and we would strongly advise that you check whether they’ll do what you want, in the area you’re going to use them, well in advance of your event.

Can you just hire me radio equipment?
Sadly not – the equipment is all the personal property of our members, and in any case, the terms of the amateur radio licence mean that only licenced operators can use the equipment.  However, only if we attend your event, we do have access to some short range hand held radio’s that we can loan you.

How do I arrange for Raynet to be at my event?
The most important thing is to give us as much notice as possible! We are all volunteers and the more notice we have, the better we’ll be able to help. It might be easiest to ask the user service (see above) to contact us: we’re used to working together and each know the information the other needs. Otherwise, email us at the address at the top of this page.

What will Raynet need from me?

In advance of the event, we’d like to know how many checkpoints or controls you’ll have, and where they are; Also if you have any event officials’ vehicles you’d like us to provide with an operator. Obviously the date, and realistic timings for the event, and the name of the user service person who is your contact. Remember that without authority from a User Service (see above) we are not allowed to help you.

On the day, our members will need to park their cars at or near the checkpoint they’re on – if any points are a long walk from the nearest parking, please let us know well in advance. It also helps if there is one fixed location near where you’ll be controlling the event from, where we can set up our control point.

It also helps to have one person we can pass on any messages / urgent issues to on the day, so they can be dealt with in a timely manner