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ARRL Asks FCC to Allocate New 5 MHz Band, Retain Channels and Current Power Limit

01/12/2017

ARRL has asked the FCC to allocate a new, secondary contiguous band at 5 MHz to the Amateur Service, while also retaining four of the current five 60-meter channels and current operating rules, including the 100 W PEP effective radiated power (ERP) limit. The federal government is the primary user of the 5 MHz spectrum. The proposed action would implement a portion of the Final Acts of World Radiocommunication Conference 2015 (WRC-15) that provided for a secondary international allocation of 5,351.5 to 5,366.5 kHz to the Amateur Service; that band includes 5,358.5 KHz, one of the existing 5 MHz channels in the US.

“Such implementation will allow radio amateurs engaged in emergency and disaster relief communications, and especially those between the United States and the Caribbean basin, to more reliably, more flexibly and more capably conduct those communications [and preparedness exercises], before the next hurricane season in the summer of 2017,” ARRL said in a January 12 Petition for Rule Making. The FCC has not yet acted to implement other portions of the WRC-15 Final Acts.

The League said that 14 years of Amateur Radio experience using the five discrete 5-MHz channels have shown that hams can get along well with primary users at 5 MHz, while complying with the regulations established for their use. “Neither ARRL, nor, apparently, NTIA is aware of a single reported instance of interference to a federal user by a radio amateur operating at 5 MHz to date,” ARRL said in its petition. NTIA — the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, which regulates federal spectrum — initially proposed the five channels for Amateur Radio use. In recent years, Amateur Radio has cooperated with federal users such as FEMA in conducting communication interoperability exercises.

“While the Amateur Radio community is grateful to the Commission and to NTIA for the accommodation over the past 14 years of some access to the 5-MHz band, the five channels are, simply stated, completely inadequate to accommodate the emergency preparedness needs of the Amateur Service in this HF frequency range,” ARRL said, adding that the five 2.8-kHz wide channels “have not provided sufficient capacity to enable competent emergency preparedness and disaster relief capability.”

Access even to the tiny 15-kHz wide band adopted at WRC-15 would “radically improve the current, very limited capacity of the Amateur Service in the United States to address emergencies and disaster relief,” ARRL said. “This is most notably true in the Caribbean Basin, but the same effect will be realized elsewhere as well, at all times of the day and night, and at all times of the sunspot cycle.”

In its Petition, ARRL also called upon the FCC to retain the same service rules now governing the five channels for the new band. The WRC-15 Final Acts stipulated a power limit of 15 W effective isotropic radiated power (EIRP), which the League said “completely defeats the entire premise for the allocation in the first place.”

“For precisely the same reasons that the Commission consented to a power increase on the five channels as recently as 2011 [from 50 W PEP ERP to 100 W PEP ERP], the Commission should permit a power level of 100 W PEP ERP, assuming use of a 0 dBd gain antenna, in the contiguous 60-meter band,” ARRL said. “To impose the power limit adopted at WRC-15 for the contiguous band would render the band unsuitable for emergency and public service communications.”

ARRL pointed out that the ITU Radio Regulations permit assignments that are at variance with the International Table of Allocations, provided a non-interference condition is attached, limiting the use of such an assignment relative to stations operating in accordance with the Table.

The League asked that General class or higher licensees be permitted to use the band. The FCC will not invite comments on the League’s Petition until it puts it on public notice and assigns a Rule Making (RM) number.



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