Canadian Radio Amateurs Gain New 472-479 kHz Band
As of May 1, radio amateurs in Canada have a new allocation at 472-479 kHz. The 7 kilohertz sliver of spectrum is available to hams there on a secondary basis. Delegates attending the 2012 World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-12) approved a secondary allocation between 472-479 kHz for the Amateur Radio Service, and telecommunications regulator Industry Canada subsequently proposed numerous revisions to its Table of Frequency Allocations, including the new 472-479 kHz band. Radio Amateurs of Canada (RAC) announced the “official implementation” of the band today.
“Canadian amateur operators have recently secured two new segments of spectrum, thanks to the very hard work of RAC volunteers,” the announcement said. “The 60 meter band allocation was made official a few month ago as well.”
MF and LF experimenter Joe Craig, VO1NA, “discovered” that the long-awaited new 630 meter band had become available when he checked the Table of Frequency Allocations last week. Craig said it didn’t take long for him and his wife Michelle, VO1RL, “to get our feet wet” on the new allocation. She stayed at home, while Joe tossed some gear into the car and drove to a park for their first contact on the new band (at 473 kHz on CW).
Last fall Industry Canada issued an experimental radio license to Craig’s club, the Marconi Radio Club of Newfoundland (VO1MRC), endorsing experimental station VX9MRC to conduct transmissions on 472-479 kHz on December 14 and 15, to call attention to the potential new Amateur Radio band there and to the role ham radio plays in emergency communication.
The ARRL in 2012 petitioned the FCC to carve out the same band for US hams, but the Commission has not yet acted on the League’s request. The ARRL-sponsored WD2XSH experimental operation in that region of the spectrum continues, with Fritz Raab, W1FR, as the coordinator. Other experimenters also operate there from time to time.
By international agreement, the maximum equivalent isotropically radiated power (EIRP) of amateur stations using 472-479 kHz may not exceed 5 W (or 1 W EIRP in some locations). In the US and in Canada, the 472-479 kHz band is part of the larger 435-495 kHz segment allocated on a primary basis to the Maritime Mobile Service and on a secondary basis for government Aeronautical Radionavigation.
Craig believes the new band will appeal to a broader group of hams than do more-demanding LF allocations. He has predicted that transatlantic contacts, while challenging, “should be fairly common using conventional CW and digital modes.” He said that although MF enthusiasts might have to build their own transmitters, most newer HF transceivers already can receive on 472-479 kHz.
A dozen or more countries already have approved Amateur Radio operation in the 630 meter band. They include Germany, Norway, the Philippines, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, Finland, Spain, and France.
Last November the FCC released a Notice of Proposed Rule Making and Order (ET Docket 12-338) proposing the creation of a new LF ham band at 135.7 to 137.8 kHz. Canadian hams already have such an allocation.