The FCC has invited comments on the ARRL’s January 12 Petition for Rule Making to allocate a new, contiguous secondary band at 5 MHz to the Amateur Service. The League also asked the Commission to keep four of the current five 60-meter channels — one would be within the new band — as well as the 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 FCC has designated the League’s Petition as RM-11785 and put it on public notice. Comments are due Monday, March 20. ARRL plans to file comments in support of its petition.
The proposed ARRL 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. The FCC has not yet acted to implement other portions of the WRC-15 Final Acts.
“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 its petition.
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.
The League said in its petition that while the Amateur Radio community is grateful to the FCC and NTIA for providing 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. 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.
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.” ARRL said the FCC should permit a power level of 100 W PEP ERP, assuming use of a 0 dBd gain antenna, in the contiguous 60-meter band. “To impose the power limit adopted at WRC-15 for the contiguous band would render the band unsuitable for emergency and public service communications,” the League said.
The ITU Radio Regulations permit assignments at variance with the International Table of Allocations, provided a non-interference condition is attached.
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