ARRL General Bulletin ARLB035 (2003)

ARLB035 FCC declines to grant amateur LF allocation; gives five
channels at 5 MHz

QST de W1AW  
ARRL Bulletin 35  ARLB035
From ARRL Headquarters  
Newington CT  May 14, 2003
To all radio amateurs 

ARLB035 FCC declines to grant amateur LF allocation; gives five 
channels at 5 MHz

The FCC has declined to grant amateurs a sliver-band allocation at
136 kHz ''at this time.'' Also, in a compromise with government
users, the Commission decided to give amateurs five discrete
2.8-kHz-wide channels in the vicinity of 5 MHz instead of the
150-kHz band ARRL had requested. In its Notice of Proposed Rule
Making a year ago, the FCC appeared inclined to go along with both
ARRL requests.

The FCC did agree in a Report and Order released May 14 to elevate
the Amateur Service, but not the Amateur-Satellite Service, to
primary status at 2400 to 2402 MHz. The changes to Part 97 go into
effect 30 days after publication in The Federal Register, which has
not yet happened.

''We are disappointed that the FCC could not see its way clear to
providing even a narrow LF allocation to the amateur service, given
earlier encouraging signs and the general trend in other
countries,'' ARRL Chief Executive Officer David Sumner, K1ZZ, said
of the FCC's decision.

The FCC, however, found itself more persuaded by arguments from
electrical utilities and other commenters that amateur operation at
136 kHz might interfere with power line communications (PLC) used by
electrical utilities to control the power grid.

The FCC said a new amateur LF allocation is not justified ''when
balanced against the greater public interest of an interference-free
power grid.'' The FCC said amateurs wishing to experiment with LF
could apply for experimental licenses or operate under existing Part
15 rules on that part of the spectrum. ''We will not jeopardize the
reliability of electrical service to the public,'' the FCC

The granting of just five spot frequencies--5332, 5348, 5368, 5373,
and 5405 kHz--at 60 meters was less of a surprise given opposition
expressed last fall by the National Telecommunications and
Information Administration (NTIA). The NTIA had cited a possible
need for the requested band by federal government users and proposed
the five specific frequencies for amateur use on a secondary basis.
The FCC has granted operation on USB (2K8J3E emission) only, with a
maximum effective radiated power limit of 50 W relative to a 0 dB
gain antenna--a half-wave dipole. The channels--each with a maximum
permissible bandwidth of 2.8 kHz--will be available to General and
higher class licensees.

''While the new amateur privileges at 5 MHz are not as flexible as
we had hoped, we recognize that much has changed since the ARRL
petition for rulemaking was submitted to the FCC in the summer of
2001,'' Sumner said. ''Federal agencies with homeland security
responsibilities have renewed interest in HF radiocommunication.''

Sumner said the ARRL was pleased to see 2400-2402 MHz upgraded to
primary. ''The upgrade of the 2400-2402 MHz amateur allocation to
primary provides a seamless primary allocation from 2390 to 2417
MHz, in addition to the secondary allocations of 2300-2310 and
2417-2450 MHz,'' he said. Amateurs already have been experimenting
with high-speed multimedia operation in the band using IEEE 802.11b

The Report and Order is available on the FCC's Web site,