The coordinator of the ARRL’s WD2XSH 600-Meter Experimental Group — Fritz Raab, W1FR — said in his latest quarterly report that 630 meters is becoming quite active, with both Amateur Radio and Part 5 Experimental stations taking advantage of the band, which is still not available in the US.
“Band activity has been very high, and there are often more WSPR stations — more than 110 stations — on 472 kHz than on 80 or 160 meters!” Raab said. WSPR, which stands for “Weak Signal Propagation Reporter,” is software designed for transmitting and receiving low-power transmissions to test propagation paths on MF and HF.
“In a sense, 630 meters has become a mainstream ham band, in spite of not being authorized in the US,” Raab said. To boost activity, a second annual Midwinter 630-Meter Operating Activity Night will take place on February 4-5. Details will be announced.
Raab also said in his report that MF propagation appears to be improving as the solar cycle declines. “The paths to VK and JA have remained good,” Raab said. “This was not the case last year, so perhaps it is an effect of the coming solar minimum. Many reports have been received for WSPR transmissions with relatively moderate power. There have been a number of polar and high-latitude openings to LA2XPA from North America. Many long-time operators say that they have never seen anything like that. There have also been a number of openings from the US west coast deep into Europe.”
Countries now permitting Amateur Radio access to the 630-meter band include Germany, Greece, Malta, Monaco, Norway, Philippines, Czech Republic, Ireland, Switzerland, New Zealand, Finland, Spain, France, Poland, Bulgaria, Canada, Vietnam, Japan, Cayman Islands, Reunion Island, and Hungary. “It appears that more than 100 DXCC entities have permission to operate on 630 meters,” Raab said in his report.
In April 2015, the FCC proposed a new secondary 630-meter allocation at 472 to 479 kHz to Amateur Radio, implementing decisions made at World Radiocommunication Conference 2012 (WRC-12). At the same time, the FCC allocated a new LF band, 135.7 to 137.8 kHz (2,200 meters), to the Amateur Service on a secondary basis, in accordance with the Final Acts of WRC-07.
No US Amateur Radio operation will be permitted in either band until the FCC determines the specific Part 97 rules it must frame to permit operation in the new bands. That process is ongoing at the FCC, but the change in administration and the consequent resignation of the current FCC chairman has put FCC action on any proceeding on hold, at least until a new chairman is in place.
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