The ARRL’s Logbook of The World LoTW) online “card-less” contact-confirmation service this week recorded a new milestone — 100 million QSL records out of some 630 million uploaded contacts. That’s an increase of more than 18 million QSL records since the end of last year. First described conceptually in the October 2001 QST “It Seems to Us…” editorial, Logbook of The World launched in September 2003. Since then, it has become an accepted Amateur Radio institution — perhaps not at the same level of traditional QSL cards, but close and gaining. The 100 million contact confirmations, ARRL CEO David Sumner, K1ZZ, pointed out, is the equivalent of 200 million QSL cards.
“If placed end to end, that many QSLs would reach more than 17,000 miles — not quite all the way around the world, but enough to qualify as a ‘long-path’ QSO,” he quipped. ARRL COO Harold Kramer, WJ1B, pointed out that using LoTW can mean a considerable saving in postage for DXers and others over the expense of exchanging QSL cards.
LoTW was an instant success. Within 2 weeks of its debut, the service already had some 2200 registered users and had confirmed some 51,000 contacts out of more than 8 million uploaded. The number of users today number more than 72,000 — up by nearly 10,000 this year alone.
Over LoTW’s 11-year lifetime, many logging programs have incorporated features to enable them to interface smoothly with LoTW. Several awards programs, starting with the ARRL DX Century Club (DXCC) award, now rely largely on LoTW to determine whether an applicant has met the award’s requirements. It’s also made it easier for award seekers to track their progress. LoTW is the primary means to confirm ARRL Centennial QSO Party contacts. The service also supports VUCC, WAS, and WPX.
LoTW is open to all; ARRL membership is not required in order to use LoTW. Applying for a digital certificate is the first step toward taking advantage of the system. The digital certificate authenticates the user's identity. The digital certificate is free, and LoTW only charges when users apply credits toward an award.
Once they have registered and have a valid certificate, users can digitally sign log uploads via the Internet. If the information in a submitted QSO matches the information submitted to LoTW by the other station, LoTW credits both operators and will display the submitted QSO as confirmed.
A call sign certificate authenticates a specific, registered user as the source of each submitted contact, and other users may not see information submitted by other operators. This combination maintains the integrity of the contact verification process that has long been the hallmark of ARRL awards programs.