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FCC Grants ARRL Temporary Waiver Request to Permit PACTOR 4 Use in Hurricane Relief


The FCC has granted an ARRL request for a temporary waiver of Section 97.307(f) of the FCC’s Amateur Service rules to permit the use of PACTOR 4 digital mode for Amateur Radio communication within the continental US related to Hurricane Florence relief. The grant extends through Tuesday, September 18, and a formal order addressing the request for a 30-day waiver will be issued next week, the FCC said.

Section 97.307(f) of the Commission’s Rules limits the digital data emissions of amateur stations operating below 28 MHz to a symbol rate not to exceed 300 baud, and in the 10-meter band (28.0 – 28.3 MHz) to a symbol rate not to exceed 1200 baud, thus precluding the use of PACTOR 4.

PACTOR 4 is a data protocol that permits relatively high-speed data transmission in the HF bands, and many amateur stations active in emergency communications preparedness are capable of using PACTOR 4, which was used to great advantage, pursuant to FCC temporary waivers, in Hurricane Maria relief efforts, and, more recently in preparing for typhoon relief communications in Hawaii.

“ARRL has recently dispatched equipment to the Carolinas and is actively preparing to assist radio amateurs involved with the Amateur Radio Emergency Service and otherwise to conduct disaster relief communications,” ARRL General Counsel Chris Imlay, W3KD, told the FCC in requesting the waiver. The equipment includes PACTOR radio modems with PACTOR 3 and PACTOR 4 capabilities.

ARRL’s request proposed limiting the use of PACTOR 4 to radio amateurs in the Continental US who are directly involved with the hurricane relief efforts involving the US mainland. “This request is without prejudice to the resolution of Docket 16-239 [the so-called “symbol rate” proceeding], which is presently pending and addresses the rule section discussed herein,” Imlay added




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