|[AMRadio] IARU - VP ARRL contact by WD5BZO|
w3slk at hughes.net
Sun Nov 25 20:55:40 EST 2007
Geoff said:Someone needs to convince the SSB'ers that this is going to
as well as us.
Let's get -all- amateurs to drop their ARRL membership, if only for a
day (week) and send our so-called 'representatives' a little message...
They have been alerted. Apparently the editors over at CQ magazine detested
the fact that this was underhanded and done without any input from members
let alone US amateur operators that aren't members. Although, they believe
in some sort of bandwidth regulation (to what regard I'm clueless) but they
didn't care in how it was done. This is cut and paste from the AMfone.net
CQ Magazine Editorial, from Editor Rich Moseson, W2VU reposted with
attribution, December 2007 issue
Here We Go Again
Six months ago, we took the ARRL to task in these pages for the secretive
way in which it modified and then withdrew its controversial FCC petition
proposing HF subbands based on bandwidth rather than mode (“The Secret
Society,” June 2007). Now, it appears to be doing an end-run around not only
its members but the FCC as well. As Ronald Reagan once famously said, “Here
we go again.”
To briefly review where we’ve been so far on this issue, back in 2002, the
ARRL Board of Directors decided that, in order to best keep pace with
developing technology, it would propose that the FCC change the way it
divides up the amateur bands from the current mode basis (e.g., CW, phone,
data, image) to one based on signal bandwidth (e.g., 200 Hz, 500 Hz, 3000
Hz, 6000 Hz). This, the League reasoned, would encourage the development of
new modes without needing specific FCC approval for each one, and would
eliminate confusion over some of the existing newer modes, such as digital
voice (is it voice or is it data?). The thinking was that not much would
change in actual usage
—CW and narrow-bandwidth digital modes would continue to predominate in the
200 and 500 Hz segments, while SSB would continue to be the primary mode in
the 3000 Hz areas (and the divisions would match up with the current
dividing lines between the CW and phone subbands). The concept became known
as “regulation by bandwidth.”
Before drafting its proposal, the ARRL wisely set out on a program of
explaining the concept to anyone willing to listen and soliciting input from
its members and the ham community at large. It stretched over three years.
Finally, in late 2005, the League submitted a “regulation by bandwidth”
petition to the FCC. Criticism was instantaneous and intense, and not always
rooted in fact. Various subgroups within the hobby felt the ARRL was trying
to promote one mode or activity at the expense of others (particularly
theirs), and that this would be the end of amateur radio as we know it. CQ
filed comments generally supporting the concept of regulation by bandwidth
(we still do), but objecting to some of the specifics within the ARRL
proposal. Others expressed their own views.
In early 2007, realizing that the tide of amateur opinion was not yet
attuned to the need to make changes, ARRL officials met quietly with FCC
officials and submitted revisions that essentially gutted the proposal, then
a couple of months later, withdrew the petition altogether. At the time, the
League said it still felt that a shift to regulation by bandwidth was
necessary and that it would revisit the issue in the future. It appears to
be revisiting it now, and appears to be continuing the pattern started
earlier this year of doing so very quietly and with very little explanation.
The vehicle this time is Region II of the International Amateur Radio Union
(IARU), which, on paper, is the international organization representing all
national amateur radio societies before the International Telecommunications
Union (ITU) and other international agencies. The ARRL, however, has always
served as the IARU’s international secretariat; former ARRL officers have
always served as IARU President (currently, it’s former ARRL President Larry
Price, W4RA), and particularly here in Region II (North and South America),
the ARRL has always had a tremendous amount of influence over IARU policy.
In mid-October, IARU Region II quietly announced that it had adopted a new
HF band plan, “as the way to better organize the use of our bands
efficiently.” The brief introduction urged member societies “in coordination
with the authorities, (to) incorporate it in their regulations an promote it
widely with their radio amateur communities.”
The new band plan takes effect January 1, 2008, and guess what? It’s broken
down by bandwidths! Not only that, but it appears to do nearly everything
that opponents of the original ARRL plan feared that it would do. It limits
AM operation to two 25-kHz segments in the 75-meter band and frequencies
above 29 MHz, does not provide at all for other wider-than-SSB voice modes
such as independent sideband (ISB) or enhanced single sideband (ESSB), and
establishes segments for automatically controlled wide-bandwidth (2700 Hz)
digital stations on all HF bands except 160 and 30 meters. In several cases,
these “robot” station segments are right at the bottom of the U.S. phone
bands, where the best DX can often be found. Currently, data transmission is
not permitted in most U.S. HF phone bands.
Now there are several important things to note:
1) This band plan is voluntary and is superseded by regulations in specific
countries. For example, it will not change the FCC rules that limit
automatically controlled digital stations to nine very small band segments.
However, growth of activity on those frequencies in other countries will no
doubt lead to pressure on the FCC to bring US subbands into compliance.
2) There is currently no bandwidth limitation on automatic digital stations
operating within those band segments, and current FCC rules permit
semi-automatic digital stations anywhere that RTTY is allowed (generally the
CW subbands), but subject to a 500-Hz bandwidth limit outside the specific
3) The band plan states that IARU member societies are urged to limit the
number of unattended stations on the air, and that they all should be
semi-automatic, that is, coming on the air only in response to a query from
a station under operator control. But in specifically creating segments for
them on virtually all HF ham bands, the plan appears to encourage rather
than discourage this type of operation.
4) The ARRL’s original petition to the FCC called for the bandwidth on the
current phone bands to be 3.5 kHz; its revised plan dropped that (without
explanation) to 3 kHz; and now the maximum bandwidth for SSB in the IARU
band plan is 2.7 kHz. It’s the incredible shrinking sideband signal...
5) As in the past, we at CQ agree philosophically with the need for
regulation by bandwidth, and we support strong band planning. We even urged
the FCC in our comments on this original proceeding to put band planning on
a par with repeater coordination, keeping it voluntary but giving precedence
to those complying with it in the event of interference. But decisions of
this magnitude should not be made in private, without public discussion and
6) There are many excellent features to this band plan, including the
establishment of “centres of activity” on each band for slow-speed Morse
code, QRP (low-power), slow-scan TV, digital voice and emergency
communications, along with “preferred” contesting areas.
It is unfortunate that all of these excellent components will doubtless be
overshadowed by the ARRL’s apparent insistence on implementing regulation by
bandwidth— including significant areas for unattended wideband digital
stations—even though it is obvious that its members and other U.S. amateurs
are not ready for it. It is equally unfortunate that there was no
opportunity for the general ham public to discuss or debate any of this
before the new plan was adopted. The nameplate on the door may say IARU, but
the door itself is in Newington, and change comes very slowly in Newington.
The secret society is alive and well.
On a more pleasant note, happy holidays and happy new year to all!
73, Rich W2VU
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