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ARRL HF Band Planning Committee Seeks Comments on Recommendations


The ARRL HF Band Planning Committee is seeking comments and suggestions from the Amateur Radio community on its report to the ARRL Board. At the Board’s January meeting, the committee presented its specific recommendations in graphical form for each HF band and each US license class, with the goal of increasing harmony on the HF bands, particularly between CW and digital users.

“In general, the committee is of the opinion that there is justification for additional space to become available for digital modes, as well as for the operation of digital stations under automatic control,” the committee told the Board. “The very changes in spectrum usage that have required our committee’s resurgence indicate that digital modes of communication are already increasing in popularity, and the trend is expected to continue or even accelerate. To this end, we have tried to ensure that digital allocations are sufficient for at least a modicum of growth.”

The committee also anticipates an increase in automatically controlled digital stations (ACDS). The report further points to “significant use” of modern data modes in emergency communication and said its recommendations provide significant support for the evolution and continued relevance of amateur radio. “Our failure to adapt to these needs could consign amateur radio to the technological scrap heap,” the report said.

The committee was revived last summer to consider conflicts between FT and JT modes and other modes. The panel’s approach has been to designate distinct assignments for CW, narrowband (NB) data <500 Hz, wideband (WB) data <2800 Hz, and ACDS. For its work, the committee presumed approval of three ARRL petitions to the FCC: RM-11708 (WT Docket WT 16-239 — “symbol rate” proceeding), RM-11759 (80/75 meter allocations), and RM-11828 (enhanced Technician privileges). The committee also assumed that users can agree to sharing arrangements within a given allocation — narrowband vs wideband sharing within the ACDS allocation, for example. It also took into consideration how mode usage is regulated or planned elsewhere in the world.

In terms of mode classes, the committee agreed on CW, NB data, WB data, NB with ACDS, and WB with ACDS. The committee said it considered these mode classes incompatible and that they should not have overlapping allocations, with the exception of CW, which is authorized within any amateur radio allocation. The committee’s approach would maintain the existing low-end 25-kHz CW-only sub-bands for exclusive use by Amateur Extra class licensees.

The panel encouraged CW identification and a listen-before-transmitting protocol for ACDS, if feasible. It also decided that a single allocation for ACDS without regard to bandwidth would be the best approach. “We note that this will put responsibility on the digital community to hold an effective dialog on the issue and to then self-regulate the users of this segment to adhere to the eventual agreement.” A need for flexibility in allocations is desirable, the committee said, and considered whether allocations might be time-of-day or time-of-week dependent, for example.

“Modern amateurs must expect to adapt to this kind of fluid assignment of spectrum to incompatible uses, using time-based sharing, rather than only a single assignment,” the committee said, expressing the hope that as band plan/sharing agreements are reached that they consider the advantage of “non-simultaneous sharing possibilities.

Reiterating the position ARRL has taken in recent FCC filings, the committee said it sees encryption and open-source as enforcement matters as being outside the scope of the Band Planning Committee.

The Committee would like comments by February 19.




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