ARRL Working For LF / MF Future


As the rollout of new LF and MF ham bands grows closer for U.S. amateurs, earlier this month, the ARRL requested the FCC to carefully consider the procedural requirements governing the advance notification of local electric authorities of their intended 630m / 2200m operation. The FCC had suggested that under certain circumstances (mainly the distance to the nearest PLC signal-carrying power lines), amateurs would be required to notify and co-operate with power authorities ... but it was all very vague and seemed to place the conditions under which operating authority would be granted into the hands of the power companies.

In what appears to be a preemptive move to head-off the (possibly) overly onerous and impossible roadblocks suggested by power company representatives, the ARRL filing states:

“ARRL does not object to such a notification requirement, provided that it is appropriately circumscribed, not overbroad in its applicability, and not overly burdensome for radio amateurs to comply with,” the League’s statement asserted.

In addition, the power authority Utility Telecom Council (UTC) has been notably silent on the issue ... slowing the process even further.

"The ARRL noted that comments filed by the Utilities Telecom Council (UTC) called for a system of “quasi-coordination” by radio amateurs before commencing operation on 2200 meters (135.7-137.8 kHz). In its remarks to the FCC, the ARRL pointed out, however, that the UTC has not volunteered any information with respect to how a notification process might work nor offered any PLC database information to the ARRL or to the amateur community so prospective users of the band could determine if their operation might be problematic."

The League took the opportunity to remind the FCC, once again, that the low ERP levels generated by amateurs operating on the new bands would have a low probability of creating any interference and further pointed out that PLC systems operating between 9 and 490 kHz are not subject to protection from licensed services.

The ARRL also indicated that any sort of blanket notification requirement prior to transmitting on 2200 or 630 meters “would be clear regulatory overkill,” and that utility companies should clearly be required to demonstrate how amateur operations would cause harmful interference to their PLC (unlicenced) operations.

It's good to see the ARRL still being proactive with regards to procuring these new frequency allotments on behalf of U.S. amateurs ... hopefully making implementation sooner rather than later. The entire ex parte filing can be read here as well as the ARRL's own news posting of the procedure here.

In the meantime, I'll make yet another call-to-arms to fellow Canadian amateurs, who already have these two new bands but aren't using them ... new activity from the western provinces would be especially welcome as there are a now a number of well-equipped stations in VE7 who would like to work you.
Steve McDonald, VE7SL, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from British Columbia, Canada. Contact him at [email protected].

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