Radio amateurs use a variety of transmission methods to communicate.
The most common method is voice communication. Some may communicate in high quality audio by using frequency modulation (FM), and others, when signals and marginal bandwidth is restricted, will use the more reliable method of single sideband (SSB).
Radio-telegraphy, using Morse code, was the original means of communication for radio amateurs, and is still popular, particularly on the shortwave bands; as amateurs who speak different languages are able to communicate using internationally agreed code groups. For many years, proficiency in Morse code was a condition for the issuing of all amateur radio licences, but after a change in international regulations in 2003, many countries have dropped this requirement.
The advent of personal computers has led to an increase in digital modes of communication for amateur radio enthusiasts. Radio teletype, which previously required complex mechanical teleprinters (telex), have now become popular, and enthusiasts have developed “packet radio”, a form of digital data transmission used to link computers and construct wireless computer networks. Other Hi tech means of communication include “Echolink” using Voice over Internet Protocol, (VOIP) , and more obscure technologies such as WSJT for weak signal modes, including “meteor scatter” and “moonbounce” communications. More recently due to the efforts of JARL and amateur enthusiast worldwide we have seen the emergence of D-Star an advanced digital mode that allows the simultaneous transmission of high quality voice and data.
On any given mode of communications; amateur radio operators are able to make individual contacts with other enthusiasts at home, as well as being able to set up group discussions on-air. Many join in regularly scheduled on-air meetings, where typically, some specialised subjects covering the interests of the participants are discussed, or operators are able to learn procedures in the event of an emergency.