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ARRL Seeks Member Input on Draft HF Band Plan Proposals

02/25/2015

The ARRL is asking members to comment by April 19 on possible changes to the League’s HF Band Plans suggested by the HF Band Planning Committee. The survey is part of the committee’s efforts to tweak the band plans for the RTTY/data/CW portions of 80 through 10 meters — excepting 60 meters. The committee developed its suggested revisions to the voluntary band plans after reviewing some 400 member comments in response to a March 2014 solicitation that sought suggestions for using the spectrum more efficiently so that data modes may coexist compatibly.

“The committee concluded that most of the concerns voiced by members could be addressed by modest adjustments to the existing band plans, and mainly by confining data modes with bandwidths greater than 500 Hz to the FCC-designated segments for automatically controlled digital stations (ACDS) and to parts of the RTTY/data subbands above those segments,” ARRL CEO David Sumner, K1ZZ said. His article detailing the committee’s suggestions will appear in the April edition of QST.

The proposed changes differentiate among ACDS, narrow RTTY/data modes having a bandwidth no greater than 500 Hz, and wider data modes having a bandwidth up to 2700 Hz.

Band by Band Draft Recommendations

The committee suggests several modifications to the 80 meter band plan. FCC action in 2006 reduced the 80 meter RTTY/data subband to 100 kHz and limited access to the 3600-3700 kHz segment to Amateur Extra class licensees. “Unless and until the FCC Rules are modified, changes in the band plan for 3500-3600 kHz will not improve the situation,” Sumner said.

The HF Band Planning Committee recommends that the League petition the FCC to move the boundary between the 80 meter RTTY/data band and the 75 meter phone/image band from 3600 to 3650 kHz and restoring that segment to General and Advanced class licensees. Members are asked to comment on this proposal, as well as on whether or not the ARRL should petition the FCC for these other changes: 

  • Shift the ACDS band segment from 3585-3600 to 3600-3615 kHz, consistent with the IARU Region 1 and 2 band plans.
  • Extend the current Novice/Technician CW segment of 3525-3600 kHz to 3650 kHz.
  • Add 80 meter RTTY/data privileges for Novices and Technicians.

On 40 meters, the committee concluded that it would be unrealistic to try to bring the ARRL band plan into alignment with the rest of the world, particularly with Regions 1 and 3 where operating patterns developed when the entire band, including phone, was just 100 kHz wide and is still only 200 kHz. While 7040 kHz is a recognized RTTY/data DX frequency in the band plan, the best place for other RTTY/data activity in the US is above 7070 kHz.

The committee proposes aligning the band plan with the “Considerate Operator’s Frequency Guide,” with wide data modes — outside of ACDS — at 7115-7125 kHz. The “Guide” shows 7070-7125 kHz for RTTY/data, while the ARRL band plan shows 7080-7125 kHz. The FCC mandates that ACDS be confined to the 7100-7105 kHz segment.

On 30 meters, the committee recommends confining wide data modes to 10.140-10.150 MHz, separated from other RTTY/data at 10.130-10.140 MHz.

On 20 meters, the committee recommends using the 1 kHz IARU/NCDXF beacon network frequency (14.0995-14.1005 MHz) as a line in the sand between wide ACDS in the 14.1005-14.112 MHz segment, and narrow ACDS in the 14.095-14.0995 MHz segment.

The committee recommends 14.070-14.095 MHz for RTTY and narrowband data, noting that so-called “weak-signal” data modes often are used between 14.070 and 14.078 MHz.

On 17 meters, the committee recommends confining wide data modes to the FCC-mandated ACDS segment of 18.105-18.110 MHz, separated from narrow RTTY/data at 18.100-18.105 MHz. FCC rules do not permit RTTY/data above 18.110 MHz, limiting options for this band.

On 15 meters, the committee recommends that 21.070-21.090 MHz for narrow RTTY/data modes, the FCC-mandated ACDS segment of 21.090-21.100 MHz for both narrow and wide automatically controlled data station activity, and above 21.100 MHz for any additional wide data activity. The ARRL Board also wants members to comment on the desirability of adding RTTY/data privileges for Novices and Technicians in their existing 15 meter segment, where they’re now limited to CW.

On 12 meters, the committee recommends confining wide data to the FCC-mandated ACDS segment, 24.925-24.930 MHz, separated from narrow RTTY/data operation at 24.920-24.925 MHz. FCC rules do not permit RTTY/data operation above 24.930 MHz, limiting options for this band.

On 10 meters, the committee recommends that wide data be confined to the FCC-mandated ACDS segment, 28.120-28.189 MHz, separated from narrow RTTY/data modes at 28.070-28.120 MHz.

How to Comment

The League has set up a web page to record members’ preferences and comments. Those wishing to offer more detailed comments may e-mail ARRL. The comment deadline is April 19. The HF Band Planning Committee will deliver its final report at the ARRL Board of Directors’ July meeting.

 



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