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Stamping on WSPR - an appeal to the ARRL Apr 8th 2016, 14:11 4 8,928 on 16/5/17

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Stamping on WSPR - an appeal to the ARRL MW1CFN on 8/4/16
Some folk may be interested in this submission I made to the ARRL regulatory folk this afternoon.

I'd be interested in views, for or against. But mainly, I hope it promotes some further submissions on the problem.

"I wonder if I could advance the following submission in respect of WSPR mode, and the problems faced by it on the bands.

I am sorry my argument is rather long, but that is always necessary when trying to make a clear case, and taking into account conflicting points of view in a fairly balanced manner.

WSPR offers a free, universally-accessible means of assessing
propagation conditions and, perhaps more importantly to some, antenna performance.

As such WSPR is something of a breakthrough in amateur radio, in that it is absent of any human bias or guesswork in assessing signal strengths.

In many ways, WSPR is the modern and perhaps more useful alternative to traditional beacons, even though it is not presently defined as a beacon mode.

My issue, and I know it is shared by many WSPRers, is that the mode is not readily apparent to those with less experience or knowledge of amateur radio. The very narrow transmission bandwidth means that the signals, to the uninitiated, can appear not to be there, or to be some form of spurious signal.

This lack of awareness does lead, more especially during weekends and contests, to RTTY operators, in particular, tending to simply transmit over WSPR transmissions already in progress. This would seem to amount to a simple breach of licence conditions due to interference, wherever the operator may be physically based. Yet, this kind of interference is commonplace and severe. It may last for two days each week as contests are underway.

The counterargument might claim that WSPR is a fairly recent arrival
that has simply tried to fit in at spot frequencies that are in fact
open to other uses. That is entirely true. Opponents to WSPR might also say that due to the beacon-like nature of WSPR, transmissions are effectively continuous, and therefore block those and nearby frequencies where others want to operate. That is also true, but one must also take into account that WSPR also has a 'right' to exist at any legal band frequency allocated to the operator, and that 'stamping' on WSPR transmissions already underway (and that is the key aspect, I think) is inevitably an interference with another transmission.

Recently, deliberate interference has met with severe punishments from the FCC, and I see no real distinction between those cases and those cases where operators stamp on ongoing WSPR transmissions.

I accept that WSPR may have to move on some bands in order to achieve more immunity from interference. But I also think the mode is so useful, widely used, unique and of potential benefit to the wider ham community, that it ought to be granted the equivalent kind of protection afforded to traditional beacons.

In previous years, I have tried to lobby the RSGB here in the UK. But I regret to say knowledge of WSPR was poor, and led to the
universally-derided response that WSPR users should 'QSY' in the case of interference. Quite how - and why - users across the globe should QSY is something of a head-scratcher, but it was one further nail in the coffin of my RSGB membership!

For my part, I would ask the ARRL to consider examining this matter, and perhaps making representations to the relevant bodies in due course. Only through national organisations can the likes of the FCC and IARU be made aware of this and similar issues, and I hope the ARRL can support this universally-useful and informative mode."

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