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Federal Register Publishes New MF/LF Rules, But Operation is Not Yet Legal


The FCC Report and Order (R&O) spelling out operational rules to allow secondary Amateur Radio access to 630 meters and 2,200 meters now has appeared in the Federal Register, but radio amateurs still may not access the new bands. That’s because specific procedures now under development to detail how radio amateurs will notify the Utilities Technology Council (UTC) of their proposed station location, prior to commencing operation, still must undergo approval. The FCC said the notification requirement is necessary to confirm that a station is not located within 1 kilometer of an active power line communication (PLC) system.

“While the R&O has been published in the Federal Register, amateurs may not begin using the new bands until after the FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau issues a Public Notice outlining necessary procedures to notify UTC of pending operation, as the new rules require,” ARRL Regulatory Information Manager Dan Henderson, N1ND, said. “There is no timetable for that Public Notice to be released. Amateurs need to practice patience.”

The FCC said the notification requirements it adopted “seek to strike a balance between amateur operations used for experimental purposes and PLC operation used by electric utilities for the reliability and security of electric service to the public.” Once notification procedures are in place, radio amateurs intending to operate on either band will notify UTC of their geographical location. If UTC does not object within 30 days, amateur operation may commence. The FCC turned away an ARRL request for direct access to the PLC database that UTC maintains.

Once UTC has developed the new information collection procedures, the FCC must submit them for review to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). “The Commission will publish a separate notice in the Federal Register, inviting comment on the new information collection requirements adopted herein,” the FCC said in the R&O. “The requirements will not go into effect until OMB has approved [the notification procedures] and the Commission has published a notice announcing the effective date of the information collection requirements.”

In an unrelated action, the FCC allocated 1,900-2,000 kHz to the maritime mobile service (MMS) on a primary basis for non-Federal use in ITU Regions 2 and 3, and limited the use of this allocation to radio buoys on the open sea and the Great Lakes. Amateur Radio was upgraded from secondary to primary in the 1900-2000 kHz segment in 2015.





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