[AMRadio] Fwd: ARRL tries to calm bandplan controversy

A.R.S. - WA5AM ars.w5ami at gmail.com
Sat Dec 8 08:59:38 EST 2007

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: VJB <wa3vjb at yahoo.com>
Date: Dec 7, 2007 7:32 PM
Subject: not sp at m
To: Brian W5AMI <ars.w5ami at gmail.com>

I've submitted a draft of the following article to be
published as a freestanding story on eham.net, QRZ.com
and amfone.net.

I also am circulating it on email reflectors, but it
kicked back as suspected spam on the AM Reflector.

Would you be so kind as to post this preview, with
comments invited and appreciated regardless of

It's the discussion of matters like this that should
always take place prospectively, not reactively.
Didn't get the chance this time, sorry.



ARRL tries to calm bandplan controversy
from Paul Courson (WA3VJB)  December 7, 2007

The ARRL, the club that has been allowed to represent
all U.S. licensees at the International Amateur Radio
Union (IARU), is trying to defend a new regional band
plan taking effect in January that may not be
supported by many American hams because of its
bandwidth overlays.

A statement from the Newington-based group follows
widespread concerns, letter-writing campaigns, and
internet discussions that are critical of the details
and the fact they were developed out-of-view of the
licensees who ordinarily would support voluntary

"During the conference, held September 10-14 in
Brasilia, representatives from IARU Region 2 societies
met in committees prior to a final plenary session and
adopted recommendations," the League statement says.

The plan is the result of nearly two years of
planning, according to an email from ARRL corporate
executive Dave Sumner, K1ZZ. But that planning among
Region 2 delegates has not been widely publicized for
U.S. amateurs. Given the controversy over the concept
of a bandwidth-based coordination scheme, the ARRL's
endorsement of the plan has surprised many, including
officials at the FCC when queries began to come in.

Many American hams are disappointed they may not be
able to support the voluntary plan, and complained
that the ARRL acted without their informed consent
when it endorsed provisions that do not match U.S.
operating patterns and could be used in future
regulatory proposals.

In a website announcement nearly two months after the
Brazil decision, the League downplays the lost support
by emphasizing that U.S. amateurs need not comply with
the measure which specifies a 2.7 kHz bandwidth for
popular voice modes.

"There is also a mistaken assumption that the new IARU
Region 2 band plan is an ARRL initiative seeking
regulation by bandwidth. It is not, nor is it in any
way a vehicle to achieve regulation by bandwidth,"
according to the unsigned ARRL message distributed in
advance Dec. 7 to certain U.S. licensees who had
written ARRL officials complaining they had no warning
or opportunity to suggest alternatives.

The IARU concept of using bandwidth to coordinate
modes and activities on HF is similar to the ARRL's
failed petition last year to the FCC, which the group
withdrew from the agency at a time of heavy opposition
from both its subscribers and the greater amateur
community in the U.S.

League officials, apparently misunderstanding the
message from their constituents, continue to threaten
to again submit such a petition in the future, when
"some degree of consensus can be achieved in the
amateur community," the new statement says.

Two sources within the IARU have confirmed that the
suggestion of using bandwidth in the Region 2 scheme
came directly from the League's Paul Rinaldo, 76, a
paid staffer who has made it a mission to use the U.S.
regulatory system to force acceptance of digital
communications, a category not popular in the Amateur

The League attributes the enumerated bandwidth
specifications to an IARU plan approved earlier for
the European Region 1. But neither the ARRL nor key
Region 1 officials explain why they prefer troublesome
bandwidth parameters instead of the longstanding,
accepted system of grouping modes by type to
coordinate operating activities.

There is no technical discussion in the IARU plan that
would help radio hobbyists determine whether they
comply with the bandwidths specified. It was this same
shortcoming as a factor that doomed the ARRL's
Petition to the FCC, RM-11306, according to comments
filed in the agency's public record.

League officials surrendered in that domestic arena
before the FCC could act. Some critics believe the
IARU step was an "end run" to an international venue
where delegates may not have been aware of the extent
of opposition to enumerated bandwidth among U.S.

U.S. League planners at the international venue have
been mute as to why the IARU could not achieve a
voluntary coordination scheme through generalized
references to signal footprint, such as "wide,"
"medium," and "narrow," which would have been easier
to grasp and implement.

"Many countries do not have government-regulated
sub-bands within their amateur allocation," the League
asserts in its December statement. But ARRL officials
have not named a single country whose licensees would
benefit from the new Region 2 plan using a bandwidth

Also of concern is the ARRL's reliance on
specifications contained in documents of the
International Telecommunications Union. The ITU takes
suggestions from volunteer groups like the IARU, but
does not typically initiate regulatory recommendations
for radio hobbyists unless governments have expressed
a clear trend the ITU may address.

One familiar example is the ITU's recognition of
governments that discontinued the Morse code licensing
element, which eventually led the FCC to also drop the

And despite the League's assertion it does not plan to
use the new international plan as part of a new thrust
for its agenda at the FCC, it's a different story on
the IARU website. "It is suggested that Member
Societies, in coordination with the authorities,
incorporate it in their regulations and promote it
widely with their amateur communities."

The League, charged with speaking at the IARU for all
U.S. licensees, did not excuse itself from the call to
promote the plan to the FCC and American hams. ARRL
officials have not responded to questions whether they
opposed enumerated bandwidths in IARU deliberations,
based on a record of expressed opposition by their
U.S. constituents.

ARRL President Joel Harrison, W5ZH, responding to
emails in recent weeks from U.S. licensees concerned
that they will not be able to support the IARU plan,
said the ARRL's Board of Directors would have
developed a policy for the League's representative(s)
at September's IARU deliberations in Brazil.

But Harrison has not responded to requests to disclose
that advance planning, confirm that it actually took
place, and to somehow demonstrate that U.S. licensees
were polled on the prospect of adding bandwidth
overlays to the Region 2 plan.

The website statement says "ARRL has conducted an open
process of soliciting input regarding matters of
importance to the Amateur Radio Service. That will
continue prior to the submission of any proposals for
future regulatory changes to improve the Amateur Radio

The apparent secrecy ahead of the IARU conference was
the subject of an article in the December CQ Magazine.
Editor Rich Moseson has been critical of the League's
tendency to plan its policy and regulatory proposals
without adequate input from U.S. licensees.

And now in the aftermath, with explanations that some
deem incomplete and unsatisfactory from elected and
paid ARRL officials, there are subscribers who insist
they will not renew when their dues expire.

Steve Johnston, WD8DAS, wrote "I am a long-time member
of the ARRL, and my respectful and gently-expressed
opinions on the bandplan have been ignored, insulted,
attacked, scorned, belittled, and pooh-poohed."

Particularly egregious was a patronizing email sent to
a large group by the ARRL's George R. Isely, W9GIG,
the elected Central Division Director. He was
responding to concerns expressed by active U.S.
licensees in their letters to him and other IARU and
ARRL officials.

"The current mini-uproar is the result of a very few
ignorant people with issues making postings to various
un-moderated Internet email reflectors," Isley said in
part. He later apologized to Johnston, but did not
issue a revised notice to his constituents.

Harrison, the ARRL president, said "I don't believe
good operating practice should be mandated by
regulation." Harrison apparently disagrees with FCC
§97.101, which states in part "each amateur station
must be operated in accordance with good engineering
and good amateur practice."

Given his suggestion the U.S. can ignore the IARU
plan, Harrison did not address why his club did not
formally ask to be excused from the international
body's call to now pitch the plan to U.S. and other

Among the hams confronting the ARRL for its role in
the IARU plan, John Fitzsimmons, W3JN wrote "I think
the suspicion is that once all of these bandplans line
up, the goal of the ARRL is perhaps to lobby the ITU
to institutionalize them at the next ITU WRC. Once so
accepted by the US they would have the effect of being
a treaty," he wrote.

Rinaldo met with ITU officials in late November about
the planning process, according to IARU president
Larry Price, who said no decisions were made at the
meeting in Geneva.

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