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ARRL Board Pledges to Oppose French Proposal for 2 Meters


At its July meeting, the ARRL Board of Directors resolved that “at the appropriate time” ARRL will oppose a proposal by France to include 144 – 146 MHz among spectrum to study for non-safety Aeronautical Mobile Service applications with an eye toward sharing the spectrum with the Amateur Services. The action came as the Board met July 19 – 20 in Windsor, Connecticut for its second meeting of 2019. The Board pointed out that 144 – 146 MHz is allocated globally to the Amateur Service on a primary basis and enjoys widespread use for emergency communication. It also pointed to the investment by radio amateurs of money and effort to build repeaters, beacons, space infrastructure, and propagation research systems that have global reach. The AMSAT and ARISS communities would be severely affected as many spacecraft use 2 meters to facilitate communication, the Board noted.ARRL International Affairs Vice President Jay Bellows, K0QB, recommended continuing to monitor the proposal. If it is added as an agenda item for study for WRC 2023, the Board should consider action, he advised.

Digital Communication Issues

The Board instructed Washington Counsel David Siddall, K3ZJ, to take appropriate steps to obtain FCC approval for several changes to the Part 97 Amateur Radio Service rules. The requested changes stemmed from discussions regarding the interference potential of automatically controlled digital stations (ACDS); the prohibition of Amateur Radio message traffic that’s encoded to obscure its meaning, and false assertions that ARRL — despite its record of steadfast opposition — supports or encourages encrypted transmissions. The Board directed that the FCC be asked to make rule changes that would:

♦ Remove the current 300 baud rate limitation, subject to the conditions requested by the ARRL.

♦ Authorize all automatically controlled digital (data) stations (ACDS) below 30 MHz, regardless of occupied bandwidth, to operate only within the ACDS bands designated in §97.221(b) of the Amateur Service rules.

♦ Require all digital mode stations operating with a bandwidth greater than 500 Hz to operate within the ACDS bands, whether or not these stations are automatically controlled.

♦ Limit the maximum bandwidth of digital mode signals below 29 MHz to 2.8 kHz.

♦ Reiterate to the FCC that ARRL’s position is unchanged from that expressed in ARRL’s 2013 comments on a Petition for Rulemaking (RM-11699) filed by Don Rolph, AB1PH. Those comments specifically addressed encryption of messages and made clear that such messages generally are prohibited in Amateur communications by §97.113 of the FCC rules and by Article 25, §2 of the International Radio Regulations and should remain prohibited.

The Board also wants to request that the FCC remind radio amateurs “by whatever appropriate means available” of the current prohibition in §97.113(a)(4) and Article 25, §2 of the International Radio Regulations against transmitting “messages encoded for the purpose of obscuring their meaning.”

ARRL-initiated mediation efforts for rival parties to reach consensus on all or some of the issues they raised in the so-called “Symbol Rate” proceeding ended a few days prior to the July Board meeting with useful discussion but no agreement among those parties on recommendations to the FCC.

Other Actions

The Board tasked its Administration and Finance (A&F) Committee to assess the feasibility of a Research Working Group (RWG) and, if warranted, to establish one. The group would help the Board and ARRL management to better gauge trends, collect more accurate membership information, and more closely track the progress of programs. The Board suggested that the RWG be led by a statistical coordinator appointed by the President. ARRL CEO Howard Michel, WB2ITX, would chair the RWG. The A&F Committee will report back to the full Board at its January 2020 meeting.

Upon the recommendation of the Programs and Services Committee, the Board directed that the rules for all ARRL contests be revised to require that each claimed contact include contemporaneous direct initiation by the operator on both sides of the contact. Contact initiation may be local or remote. The Board further voted to amend the DXCC rules to establish the same requirement for that program.

The Board voted to add a QRP Single Operator subcategory for the ARRL RTTY Roundup.


In his report to the Board, CEO Michel expressed concern that the number of new amateur licenses was down, and, if the trend continues, it could pose a potential risk to ARRL. Michel told the Board that Headquarters staff will move forward with a new On The Air magazine aimed toward new licensees. “Keeping new amateurs engaged with a publication geared toward the newcomer is a primary goal,” Michel explained. He added that the new podcast So Now What? is off to a good start with encouraging response.

Treasurer Rick Niswander, K7GM, told the Board that ARRL’s investment portfolio returns were in line with approximated market returns in the equity and credit markets, but he remains concerned that the markets are richly priced in an underlying economic environment that is starting to show some signs of strain.

Chief Financial Officer Diane Middleton, W2DLM, reported that the League continues to have a financially strong balance sheet and generated a larger-than-expected gain from operations through June 30. Total revenues were greater than forecast, while expenses were lower than forecast. Cash flow also continued to be healthy.

Censure Rescinded

The Board acted to rescind its public censure of ARRL Southwestern Division Director Richard Norton, N6AA. The censure action, taken at a special Board meeting in November 2017, was based on Norton’s alleged violation of the ARRL Policy on Board Governance and Conduct of Members of the Board of Directors and Vice Directors, adopted in January of that year and itself since rescinded.

Minutes of the July ARRL Board of Directors meeting are available on the ARRL website.



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