[AMRadio] 3600-3700

Donald Chester k4kyv at charter.net
Mon Feb 23 15:18:14 EST 2015

A few years ago, thanks to the tireless efforts of many who lobbied and
commented to the FCC regarding to the 75/80m frequency allocation, the FCC
adopted the long overdue expansion of the phone band, and extended it down
to 3600 kHz.  Although many grumbled about the expansion, one of the reasons
the FCC gave for approving the expansion was the underutilisation of the
portion of the band from 3600 to 3700 kHz.  Often that portion would be
devoid of signals other that a handful of CW nets and a few RTTY and digital
signals, while most of the CW activity was squeezed between 3525 and about
3580.  CW operators complained about their "loss" of frequencies despite the
fact that CW is allowed anywhere on the band between 3500 and 4000.

As soon as the phone band was expanded, 3600-3700 was filled voice signals,
including AM.  Many of those ops commented on how great the expanded band
was, with less QRM, congestion and nonsense than they were used to
experiencing on the high end of the band. A number of AMers upgraded to
Extra just so  they could operate the new frequencies.  Unfortunately, after
only a few weeks, once the novelty wore off, most of those stations migrated
back to their old frequencies, and now AM is rarely heard in this portion
and SSB has greatly thinned out as well.

Now, according to Dave Sumner's editorial in the March issue of QST, the
ARRL is making noises about petitioning the FCC to withdraw part of the
expansion and move the lower end of the phone band up to 3650, in order to
allow more room for "digital" operations. One of the  reasons given is the
dearth of activity in 3600-3700, saying those frequencies are
"underutilised". This is the same argument the FCC originally used when they
expanded the phone band in the first place, bringing us back to the old
principle of USE IT OR LOSE IT.

Sumner points out in his editorial how the FCC regulations that govern
amateur radio in the US are much more detailed than those of most other
countries' administrations, citing specifically the division of the HF bands
by mode. An interesting idea for alleviating the purported "problem", to
allow some overlap between digital modes and phone on, say, 3600-3650 was
rejected outright by the Committee because "it would be a significant
philosophical departure from the existing HF regulatory regime".  That
reminds me of some of the ridiculous political gridlock in Congress,  where
practical  solutions to some of the nation's most pressing problems are
dismissed out of hand because it runs counter to someone's political

I was able to get  greater details off the ARRL website. Here is the
pertinent info; click on the link at the bottom to see the whole thing.  We
need to jump on this right away.

HF Band Planning Committee
ARRL Board of Directors
July 2014

(. . .) 4. In accordance with Minute 47 of the January 2014 Board of
Directors Meeting,
the HF Band Planning Committee was directed to solicit membership input
regarding concerns pertaining to the increasing popularity of data modes,
to suggest ways to use our spectrum efficiently so that these data modes may
compatibly coexist with each other. The Committee has completed its initial
task of soliciting member input, performed an initial review of the input,
and will now
analyze the input in greater detail by band to assess necessary band plan

There is a desire to reallocate the lower portion of 80 meters phone band
(3600-3650 kHz). Several commenters observed that the FCC's action in 2006
reduce the 80 meter RTTY/data band from 250 kHz to 100 kHz and to limit
access to 
3600-3700 kHz only to Amateur Extra Class licensees has created significant
unnecessary difficulties for CW, RTTY, and data operators and has left
3600-3700 kHz 
underutilized. Suggestions for restoring some of the lost RTTY/data band
from 25 to 100 kHz with 50 kHz being the most frequently mentioned. The
will recommend as part of its strawman proposals for members' consideration
the boundary between the 80 meter RTTY/data band and the 75 meter
phone/image band 
be changed from 3600kHz to 3650 kHz. Of course, this would require FCC

5. A few commenters noted that W1AW CW transmissions and PSK31 activities
just above 3580 kHz are in conflict. We have looked for another CW frequency
for W1AW lower in the band, but have been unable to identify one that is not
close to a net frequency or other established use as to create the potential
for a
new conflict. With an additional 50 kHz for RTTY/data operation it should be
possible to resolve this issue.

6. Creating an overlap between RTTY/data and phone/image was mentioned by
some, who said that at times it is beneficial during emergency operations to
able to shift quickly between voice and data modes. That would be a
philosophical departure from the existing HF regulatory regime, which
RTTY/data and phone/image everywhere except on 160 and 60 meters, so the
committee does not recommend it at this time. The proponents of this
have the opportunity to demonstrate its merits in the 160 and 60 meter
bands, if
they wish to do so.   (. . .)


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