Amateur Allocation at 472 kHz Moves a Step Closer to Acceptance
While two hurdles still remain to be cleared, the effort to gain a new amateur medium frequency (MF) allocation reached a major milestone on Thursday, February 2 at the 2012 World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-12) in Geneva, Switzerland.
According to ARRL Chief Executive Officer David Sumner, K1ZZ, a Sub Working Group dealing with Agenda Item 1.23: “To consider an allocation of about 15 kHz in parts of the band 415-526.5 kHz to the Amateur Service on a secondary basis, taking into account the need to protect existing services.” In a series of 12 meetings over a 10-day period from the beginning of the WRC on January 23, this group has worked to resolve differences among various proposals for an amateur allocation between the proponents and opponents of an allocation.
“On February 1, a formulation for an allocation was found that resolved the concerns of nearly all of the opposing administrations,” Sumner explained. “A small number of administrations remained opposed to an allocation, so the Sub Working Group had to report to its Working Group -- the next level up in the Conference structure -- that consensus had not quite been reached and that two options remained: An allocation with conditions worked out by most administrations on the one hand, and ‘no change’ on the other.”
Sumner noted that on February 2, the Working Group made minor adjustments in the formulation and agreed to forward two options to the next level, which is Committee 4 of the Conference. “A decision between the two options is likely to be made by Committee 4 early next week,” he said. “If a positive decision is made, it will then be considered by the Plenary, where the proposed modifications to the Radio Regulations that are necessary to accomplish the allocation will be reviewed in two ‘readings’ of the text. Passage on second reading in the Plenary is the last step prior to the signing of the Final Acts at the conclusion of the WRC on February 17.”
Sumner explained that the formulation that has been agreed upon by most administrations calls for a worldwide secondary allocation to the Amateur Service at 472-479 kHz, with a power limit of 1 W EIRP. A provision has been made, however, for administrations to permit up to 5 W EIRP for stations located more than 800 km from certain countries that wish to protect their aeronautical radionavigation service (non-directional beacons) from any possible interference. Proposed footnotes provide administrations with opportunities to opt out of the amateur allocation and/or to upgrade their aeronautical radionavigation service to primary, if they wish to do so. In addition to these protections for aeronautical radionavigation, the Amateur Service must avoid harmful interference to the primary maritime mobile service.
“The International Amateur Radio Union team that has been working on this agenda item since 2007 is cautiously optimistic that the thousands of hours of work that have been devoted to achieving a positive outcome are about to pay off,” Sumner said. “ITU decisions are made by consensus and success is still not assured, but prospects have brightened considerably since the first week of the WRC.”