[AMRadio] arrl band change proposal

Donald Chester k4kyv at charter.net
Fri Aug 28 16:59:49 EDT 2015

> ARRL tried that roughly 10 years ago; it was called the "regulation by
bandwidth" proposal which would basically separate all
>  the digital/image stuff from the analog stuff. But, as we all know, it
got beat down by "concerned" amateurs.

> Pete, wa2cwa

Not exactly. In fact, just the opposite.  The ARRL plan was a re-hash of
Johnny Johnston's infamous Docket 20777 from the mid 1970s, which would have
DELETED all specific references to modes of emission and re-defined the
sub-bands in terms of occupied bandwidth. Below 28 mHz, the maximum
allowable transmitted bandwidth in what we now know as the 'phone bands'
would have been 3.5 kHz, effectively precluding double sideband AM.
Fortunately, the AM community with the help of others in those pre-internet
days mounted a letter-writing campaign, and the FCC was flooded with
comments overwhelmingly in opposition, and the bandwidth proposal was
ultimately dismissed.

The ARRL's redux would have been slightly better, but still would have posed
a significant threat to AM.  The League proposed to define sub-bands in
terms of NECESSARY bandwidth instead of OCCUPIED bandwidth, meaning that the
actual transmitted bandwidth of a  signal would have been less strictly
regulated, but the problem with  the ARRL proposal was that in what is now
the 'phone bands' would have been defined in terms of something like 2700 Hz
necessary bandwidth.  To accommodate AM, which has a necessary bandwidth of
at  least 6 kHz, a footnote was proposed to specifically permit double
sideband phone emissions in the 2700 kHz sub-bands.

The problem with that is that the continued legality of AM would have
reduced to hanging on by a single footnote.  It's much easier to sometime in
the future delete a  simple footnote, than to re-write an entire rule to
outlaw a specific mode.

Under the ARRL's bandwidth proposal, ANY mode with a given necessary
bandwidth would be permitted within that sub-band. In the 2700 Hz sub-band
(what we now call the 'phone band'), SSB, analogue SSTV, RTTY, digital SSTV,
and any digital data  mode that could be transmitted within that bandwidth,
would have been permitted.

Besides the AM community, another group that originally opposed Docket 20777
back in the 1970s was CW operators, since under that proposal, tone
modulated CW would have been  re-legalised; some amateurs were seriously
entertaining the idea of removing the power supply filter components from
their CW rigs to transmit pre-1929 style 'rectified a.c.', if that proposal
had gone through. 

Reportedly, following the rejection of the 20777 bandwidth proposal,
Johnston was guest speaker at some amateur radio club, where he expressed
sour grapes over the full Commission's decision, saying something to the
effect, 'Here we had a good proposal, but it was killed by a group of  hams
who want to keep on operating the same transmitters they have been using for
25 years'.

One thing the ARRL's planned petition to move the sub-band boundary to 3650
has going against it, is that it would mean the FCC would have to reverse
their recent rulemaking decision to expand the phone band down to 3600.
Bureaucratic regulatory agencies like the FCC rarely rule against themselves
and agree to an about-face, unless the original decision was made many years
previously or else they are directed by a federal court. To renege  on a
major rule change as recent as the expansion of the 75/80m phone band would
be to effectively admit they made a bad decision in the first place, and
therefore their wisdom might be less than infinite.

Don k4kyv

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