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Bandwidth FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on the ARRL Regulation-by-Bandwidth Proposals

  • The rules are fine just the way they are. Why can't you just leave them alone?

    In reality, they're not. The present rules were written long before most of the current digital modes were even thought of. Applying them to present and future digital emissions is like applying rules written for the horse and buggy to an Interstate highway.

    With even more digitally based modes on the horizon, major crashes are going to happen. The recommended band plan will keep order, while still allowing radio amateurs to continue implementing new technologies.

  • I'm a CW operator. Why should I care about making the rules better for digital?

    Regulating by bandwidth gives CW and other narrowband operators more protection than they now have. As the rules now stand, there is nothing to prevent digital modes from expanding all the way down to the very bottom of the "CW bands."

  • You're proposing to mix digital e-mail systems with SSB phone!

    Not necessarily. The proposal doesn't force any changes in amateur operating patterns at all. It simply shifts responsibility for these sorts of issues from the FCC--where they are seldom dealt with at all, and then only with great reluctance--to the amateur community itself. This approach keeps hams in the driver's seat, regulating ourselves as to where digital and analog emissions will work best within our bands.

  • But band planning doesn't work very well!

    It may not work perfectly, but amateurs generally do abide by band plans, and band plans do offer much more flexibility to meet changing requirements than FCC rules do. Most of the world's radio amateurs are governed by voluntary band plans. Why should amateurs in the US be any less capable of doing so? Just as PSK31 and similar modes have centered by consensus in one area to the benefit of all, voluntary agreements will work well with other modes too.

  • Isn't this just caving in to the Winlink crowd?

    What we're asking the FCC to do is to rewrite the rules so they will still work five or ten years from now. The trend toward more digital operation is unmistakable, but exactly what amateurs will want to do on the air five or ten years from now is anyone's guess. The debate over Winlink made it abundantly clear that it's wrong to ask the FCC to resolve such issues for the amateur community. If we don't do it ourselves and leave it up to the FCC to impose rules, we might not like them, and we'll have to live with them for a very long time.

  • Why perpetuate HF packet by allowing automatic control? HF packet is hopelessly obsolete.

    One of the guiding principles behind the Executive Committee's recommendations is that amateurs should not lose any privileges they are now using. That includes HF packet. A few of the automatic control subbands are proposed for deletion because they can't easily be accommodated in our narrowest and most popular bands. Otherwise, HF automatic control--a privilege that was not added to the rules until 1995--should be retained. If amateurs stop using HF packet, fine. But they shouldn't be forced to stop, nor should we ignore the possibility that a newer, better way may come along of time-shifting some amateur traffic into the hours when the bands are relatively quiet.

  • What about AM?

    The recommendations include a special exception for AM and for ISB to continue within bandwidths of 9 kHz and 6 kHz respectively. (In ISB, or independent sideband, each sideband of a double-sideband signal carries information or data independent of the other.)


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