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ARRL General Bulletin ARLB016 (2015)

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ARLB016 FCC Proposes to Permit Amateur Access to 2200 and 630 Meters

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ARRL Bulletin 16  ARLB016
From ARRL Headquarters  
Newington CT  April 29, 2015
To all radio amateurs 

SB QST ARL ARLB016
ARLB016 FCC Proposes to Permit Amateur Access to 2200 and 630 Meters

Amateur Radio is poised to gain access to two new bands! The FCC has
allocated a new LF band, 135.7 to 137.8 kHz, to the Amateur Service
on a secondary basis. Allocation of the 2.1 kHz segment, known as
2200 meters, was in accordance with the Final Acts of the 2007 World
Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-07). The Commission also has
proposed a new secondary 630 meter MF allocation at 472 to 479 kHz
to Amateur Radio, implementing decisions made at WRC-12. No Amateur
Radio operation will be permitted in either band until the FCC
determines, on the basis of comments, the specific Part 97 rules it
must frame to permit operation in the new bands. Amateur Radio would
share both allocations with unlicensed Part 15 power line carrier
(PLC) systems operated by utilities to control the power grid, as
well as with other users.

In addition, the FCC has raised the secondary Amateur Service
allocation at 1900 to 2000 kHz to primary, while providing for
continued use by currently unlicensed commercial fishing vessels of
radio buoys on the "open sea."

The allocation changes, associated proposed rules, and suggested
topics for comment are contained in a 257-page FCC Report and Order,
Order, and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking addressing three dockets -
ET-12-338, ET-15-99, and IB-06-123 - which affect various radio
services in addition to the Amateur Service. The FCC released the
document on April 27.

With respect to the new LF sliver band at 135.7-137.8 kHz, the FCC
concluded that Amateur Radio and PLC systems can coexist there.
"Since the Commission last considered this issue, amateurs have
successfully operated in the band under experimental licenses
without reported PLC interference," the FCC said. "We are also
encouraged by the fact that numerous fixed radionavigation beacons,
which operate at much higher powers, share spectrum with PLC systems
without reported interference."

In 2003 the FCC turned down an ARRL proposal to create a 135.7-137.8
kHz Amateur Radio allocation, after utilities raised fears of a
clash between Amateur Radio and PLC systems operating below the AM
broadcast band. This time, the FCC said, "It is clear that we will
have to establish appropriate requirements for amateur use of the
band, if we are to ensure compatibility with PLC systems." WRC-07
set a maximum effective isotropic radiated power (EIRP) limit of 1
W, which is what the FCC is proposing.

The FCC said it "explicitly" rejects the suggestion that it choose
one use of the spectrum over the other. "Our objective is to
allocate spectrum on a secondary basis to amateur stations in a
manner...compatible with existing PLC systems," the FCC said.
"However, we also expect to permit amateur operators to make use of
the allocation in a manner that is less burdensome and more
productive than they are currently afforded under the experimental
authorization process."

The Commission said that if it concludes, after considering the
record, that Amateur Radio and PLC systems cannot coexist, it would
"defer the adoption of service rules, and amateur users will have to
continue to use the experimental licensing process to operate in the
band."

With respect to the proposed 630 meter allocation, the FCC has
proposed limiting amateur stations in the US to a maximum 5 W EIRP.
In the US, 435-495 kHz is allocated to the Maritime Mobile Service
on a primary basis for federal and non-federal use, and to the
aeronautical radionavigation service on a secondary basis for
federal use.

The ARRL submitted a Petition for Rule Making in 2012 asking the FCC
to allocate 472-479 kHz to the Amateur Service on a secondary basis
and to amend the Part 97 rules to provide for its use. Several
countries, including Canada, already have access to the band. The
ARRL has pointed out that during its extensive course of
experimentation in the spectrum around 500 kHz, no interference
reports have been received.

The FCC said that the "cornerstone" of the technical rules it's
proposing for both bands is "physical separation between amateur
stations and the transmission lines" carrying PLC signals. "Such a
separation, in conjunction with limits on the amateur stations'
transmitted EIRP and antenna heights, will enable PLC systems and
amateur stations to coexist in these bands," the FCC asserted. "In
addition, we propose to limit amateur stations to operations at
fixed locations only, to ensure that this separation distance can be
maintained reliably."

The FCC said it wants to hear from both PLC system users and radio
amateurs regarding technical requirements it would have to put into
place to permit both users to operate comfortably and without
compromising the PLC systems. The Commission suggested that other
requirements might include limits on antenna heights, transmitter
power limits, and operating privilege limits based on license class
or mode. The ARRL will file comments in the proceeding.

The FCC will accept comments for 60 days following publication of
the Report and Order, Order, and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in
the Federal Register. Reply comments would be due 30 days after the
comment deadline.
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