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ARRL Letter


The ARRL Letter
Vol. 23, No. 43
October 29, 2004


* +FCC drops the other shoe on BPL
* +State utility officials discuss BPL
* +KE5BRW aboard ISS as Expedition 10 commander
* +Some amateur 2.3 GHz spectrum involved in FCC spectrum relocation
* +40 meter band to double in UK
* +Digital signal on 75 meters attracting attention
*  Solar Update
     This weekend on the radio
     ARRL Certification and Continuing Education course registration
     Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Course registration
     QRV to vote?
     Icom America to power W1AW during ARRL November Sweepstakes
     Club commissions for membership renewals are back!
    +RSGB proposes 500 kHz amateur band for UK
     First Australia-US QSO took place 80 years ago
     Halloween special event set
     N4MC's Vanity HQ Web site to go dark

+Available on ARRL Audio News

NOTE: Due to travel schedules, the Friday, November 5, editions of The
ARRL Letter and ARRL Audio News will be distributed a day early. The
normal Friday distribution schedule will resume November 12.


The FCC this week released the full BPL Report and Order (R&O) in ET
Docket 04-37 that it adopted just two weeks ago. While extolling the
purported benefits of broadband over power line technology, the 81-page
document also declares the FCC's intention to protect licensed services
from harmful interference.

"We recognize that some radio operations in the bands being used for
Access BPL, such as those of Amateur Radio licensees, may occur at
distances sufficiently close to power lines as to make harmful
interference a possibility," the FCC conceded in its R&O. "We believe that
those situations can be addressed through interference avoidance
techniques by the Access BPL provider such as frequency band selection,
notching, or judicious device placement."

Notches would have to be at least 20 dB below applicable Part 15 limits on
HF, 10 dB below on VHF. The FCC called the ability to alter a system's
operation to notch out transmissions on specific frequencies where
interference is occurring "a necessary feature for resolving interference
without disrupting service to BPL subscribers."

In line with remarks made at the October 14 open meeting where the FCC
adopted the R&O--then still in draft form--the FCC declined to reduce the
Part 15 radiated emission limit for BPL systems. It maintained that
emissions from BPL systems are very localized and at low enough levels to
generally preclude harmful interference.

The FCC said it had no evidence before it that BPL operation would
significantly contribute to generally raising background noise levels. At
the same time, it seemed to put some of the onus on Amateur Radio
licensees to take steps to avoid power-line interference--and, by
inference, BPL interference--in advance.

"In addition, because power lines inherently can radiate significant noise
emissions as noted by NTIA and ARRL, good engineering practice is to
locate sensitive receiver antennas as far as practicable from power
lines," the FCC said.

In a footnote, the FCC took pains to advise ARRL that in cases where its
members experience RF noise, "such noise can often be avoided by carefully
locating their antennas; in many instances an antenna relocation of only a
relatively short distance can resolve noise interference."

BPL operators would be required to avoid certain bands, such as those used
for life and safety communications by aeronautical mobile or US Coast
Guard stations. The FCC R&O makes clear, however, that similar rules will
not apply to the Amateur Service.

"We similarly do not find that Amateur Radio frequencies warrant the
special protection afforded frequencies reserved for international
aeronautical and maritime safety operations," the Commission said. "While
we recognize that amateurs may on occasion assist in providing emergency
communications," the FCC added. It described typical amateur operations as
"routine communications and hobby activities."

Although some cases of harmful interference may be possible from BPL
emissions at levels up to Part 15 limits, the FCC said, "we agree with
NTIA [National Telecommunications and Information Administration] that the
benefits of Access BPL service warrant acceptance of a small and
manageable degree of interference risk." The Commission reiterated in the
R&O its belief that BPL's public benefits "are sufficiently important and
significant so as to outweigh the limited potential for increased harmful
interference that may arise."

Among other specific provisions, the FCC's new rules mandate certification
of BPL equipment instead of the less-stringent verification, a public BPL
database--something the BPL industry did not want--and mechanisms to deal
swiftly with interference complaints. BPL systems will have to incorporate
the ability to modify operation and performance "to mitigate or avoid
potential harmful interference" and to deactivate problematic units, the
R&O says.

Further, the new rules spell out the locations of "small geographic
exclusion zones" as well as excluded bands or frequencies--concessions
made primarily at the insistence of the NTIA, which administers radio
spectrum for federal government users--and "coordination areas" where BPL
operators must "precoordinate" spectrum use. The rules also detail
techniques to measure BPL emissions from system equipment and power lines.

The FCC said it expects "good faith" on both sides in the event of
interference complaints. While the Commission said it expects BPL
operators to take every interference complaint seriously and to diagnose
the possible cause of interference quickly, it also suggested that
complainants have responsibilities.

"At the same time, we expect the complainant to have first taken
reasonable steps to confirm that interference, rather than a receiver
system malfunction, is occurring and, to the extent practicable, to
determine that the interference source is located outside the
complainant's premises," the Commission said.

Shutting down a BPL system in response to a valid interference complaint
"would be a last resort when all other efforts to satisfactorily reduce
interference have failed," the FCC said.

League officials are studying the R&O and considering possible responses.
The ARRL Executive Committee (EC) already has authorized filing a Petition
for Reconsideration. The EC also authorized ARRL General Counsel Chris
Imlay, W3KD, to "prepare to pursue other available remedies as to
procedural and substantive defects" in the BPL proceeding.

For more information on BPL, visit the "Broadband Over Power Line (BPL)
and Amateur Radio" page <> on the ARRL Web site.


ARRL Chief Technology Officer Paul Rinaldo, W4RI, represented the League
this week at a meeting of the National Association of Regulatory Utilities
Commissioners (NARUC) Broadband over Power Lines (BPL) Task Force.
Michigan Commissioner Laura Chappelle chaired the October 24 gathering in
Alexandria, Virginia. Its aim was to give NARUC BPL Task Force members an
overview of federal regulations, an industry perspective, and insight into
potential state regulatory issues related to BPL. NARUC consists of state
utility regulators who have no jurisdiction over RFI issues, Rinaldo
explained after the meeting.

"However," he said, "it's good that they are aware that there's a
potential interference problem that could complicate life at the local
level when hams complain to utilities about interference." On the other
hand, he noted during his presentation, "BPL may be a distraction from a
utility's main function of delivering reliable power to customers." During
a question-and-answer session, the state utility commissioners posed no
questions regarding BPL interference, Rinaldo said.

Rinaldo's presentation, "BPL--Amateur Radio Perspective," pointed out a
paradox in the new regulations: "The R&O excludes frequency bands for
those facilities typically away from BPL installations," he said.
"However, it does not exclude frequency bands for those stations, such as
Amateur Radio, typically closest to residential BPL installations."
Rinaldo noted that ARRL and National Telecommunications and Information
Administration (NTIA) BPL measurements "are consistent" with each other.
The NTIA had determined that even at Part 15 emission limits for reception
of low to moderate-strength signals, BPL interference extends out 460
meters (approximately 1509 feet) for fixed stations.

Among suggested BPL "best practices," Rinaldo recommended that BPL
providers exclude Amateur Radio bands "by design" rather than awaiting
complaints. If complaints do arise, BPL providers should "promptly
eliminate interference," he said. Rinaldo also stressed Amateur Radio's
emergency communication role.

Precursor Group CEO Scott Cleland spoke on "The Alchemy of Broadband over
Power Lines." While focused primarily on investments, Cleland's
presentation also asserted that that technical alchemy "has finally
overcome the heretofore insurmountable barrier of noise interference in an
economically viable way."

The United Power Line Council's Brett Kilbourne told the gathering that
all technical problems confronting BPL had been solved and that it was
time to roll it out. "I bit my tongue," Rinaldo remarked later.

During a discussion on "open access," Rinaldo said, the mood of the
Commissioners was not to regulate how many BPL providers might have access
to a given utility system, "which logically means that only one provider
would be practical," he concluded. "That is, if one provider hogs all the
bandwidth and/or time on the bands not notched, it would be virtually
impossible to have the original provider back out just to let a competitor

Franca and Current Technologies' Jay Birnbaum allowed that there wasn't
much bandwidth to begin with, and, Rinaldo said, subdividing it wouldn't
make much sense.

Discussion also touched on the timing of BPL rollouts and competition from
well-established cable and DSL as well as growing wireless system
providers. "From the discussion, I got the impression that rollout would
take about 4-1/2 years," Rinaldo said. "Over that time, cable, DSL, fiber,
wireless and satellite broadband providers will provide strong


"I hereby accept command of the International Space Station." With those
words and the traditional ringing of the ISS bell, Expedition 10 Commander
Leroy Chiao, KE5BRW, and ISS Flight Engineer Salizhan Sharipov marked the
change of command during an October 22 ceremony aboard the space station.

The International Space Station Expedition 9 crew of Commander Gennady
Padalka, RN3DT, and NASA ISS Science Officer Mike Fincke, KE5AIT, now is
back on Earth after spending nearly 188 days in space and traveling more
than 78 million miles on the ISS. Padalka, Fincke and Russian Space Forces
Test Cosmonaut Yuri Shargin landed safely in Kazakhstan early October 24.
Shargin had accompanied Chiao and Sharipov to the ISS earlier in the

The Expedition 10 crew returned to a full schedule October 27 after three
days of light duty following the hectic week of crew handover activities.
Despite the busy week before departure, Fincke did manage to slip in a few
casual QSOs on 2 meters, according to postings on the ISS Fan Club Web
site <>.

In addition to conducting science experiments during his eight days aboard
the ISS, Shargin participated in Amateur Radio on the International Space
Station (ARISS) school group contacts with students in Finland and
Belgium. The Expedition 10 crew is not expected to begin its own series of
ARISS school group contacts until the week of November 11. Among other
locations, ARISS school group contacts are penciled in for Italy, New
York, Quebec, and Ontario. Specific dates for those QSOs have not yet been
established. The RS0ISS packet system, which was down for a short time
earlier this week, now is back in operation.

Padalka and Fincke are in Star City, Russia, for a few weeks of
post-flight debriefings and medical exams. They'll return to Houston in
mid-November, NASA says. Expedition 10 officially took command of the ISS
Expedition 9 when the hatches between the departing Soyuz vehicle and the
ISS closed at 1800 UTC October 23.

Chiao and Sharipov are expected to spend the next six months continuing
ISS science operations and maintaining station systems. They will also
prepare the ISS for the space shuttle's return to flight and conduct two
space walks. Expedition 10 is scheduled to return to Earth next April
25.--some information from NASA


The FCC has acted to include the first five 5 megahertz of the 2390-2417
MHz Amateur Radio Service primary allocation among spectrum it's opened up
to accommodate federal users shifted from other bands. The spectrum
relocations, which also involved nonamateur spectrum at 2 GHz, are aimed
at making room for advanced wireless services (AWS), including so-called
"third-generation" (3G) wireless systems.

After voting unanimously October 14 to adopt a Seventh Report and Order
(R&O) in ET Docket 00-258 and WT Docket 02-8, the FCC called the action
"an important step towards the future auction of 90 MHz of spectrum for
AWS." The Commission said it worked with the US Department of Defense and
the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to
reallocate spectrum to allow for relocation of critical military and other
operations into the 2360 to 2395 MHz band.

The FCC says its action will make room available to shift federal
government aeronautical mobile flight test telemetry (AMT) operations from
the 1.7 GHz band to the 2.3 GHz band by extending the primary allocation
for AMT to include an additional 10 megahertz from 2385 to 2395 MHz.
"Making the additional spectrum available for non-federal AMT will
accommodate the higher data rates needed for non-federal flight testing,"
the FCC said.

The Commission similarly extended the existing secondary spectrum
allocations for federal and non-federal non-aeronautical mobile telemetry
operations in the 2360-2385 MHz band to include the 2385 to 2395 MHz band.
In addition, it extended the existing federal primary radiolocation and
secondary fixed allocations from 2360 to 2385 MHz to include 2385 to 2390

Last December, the ARRL announced that it had agreed in principle with the
Aerospace and Flight Test Radio Coordinating Council (AFTRCC) to develop
coordination procedures. The League told the FCC it could support Amateur
Radio sharing of 2390 to 2395 MHz on a co-primary basis with flight test
telemetry operations. But it has insisted that 2395 to 2400 MHz remain an
exclusive amateur primary allocation.


Starting at 0100 UTC October 31, the 40 meter band in the British Isles
will effectively double in size when radio amateurs there gain access to
7100 to 7200 kHz. Ofcom, the UK telecommunications regulatory authority,
announced the Notice of Variation October 26.

The change, in the works since last year, is a result of actions taken
during World Radiocommunication Conference 2003, where conferees agreed to
move broadcasters out of 7100 to 7200 kHz in Regions 1 and 3 to make room
for the Amateur Service. Coincidentally, the UK band expansion, which also
includes independently governed regions where Ofcom regulates
telecommunications, will occur just about halfway through the CQ World
Wide Contest (SSB) this weekend. Contesters take note!

The Ofcom NOV makes the segment available on a secondary basis, and
amateur stations in the UK and affected regions may not cause interference
to stations operating in other radio services inside or outside the UK.

The UK and Ofcom-administered regions join the Republic of Ireland--which
reportedly gained access October 20--as well as Croatia, Norway and San
Marino among Region 1 countries that have authorized access to the
additional spectrum on a secondary basis. The WRC-03 change does not
formally go into effect until 2009.-thanks to Lawrence Woolf, GJ3RAX; RSGB


A digital broadcast signal on 3995 kHz has prompted some members of the
amateur community to contact ARRL to say it's QRMing the top 10 kHz of 75
meters and asking what can be done about it. Not much, as it turns out.
The signal, from Deutsche Welle in Germany, is legal since radio amateurs
share that part of the band with broadcasters in Region 1 (which includes
Europe). The international Radio Regulations do leave the door open to
request that the station reduce power or change its antenna pattern,

"Digital shortwave will revolutionize cross-border broadcasts and will
initiate a worldwide renaissance of radio," Deutsche Welle Director
General Erik Bettermann said this month during a panel discussion at
Munich Media Days. Deutsche Welle plans to gradually shut down its analog
shortwave transmissions, he said, as DRM receivers became more available
globally--something not anticipated until late 2005.

Although the station has been broadcasting for some time on the same
frequency in conventional AM, it's attracted more notice from hams since
July, when it began testing using digital format--also referred to as
"DRM," (Digital Radio Mondiale, French for "Digital Radio Worldwide"). Of
course, the vagaries of propagation will be a big factor as to the amount
of interference US hams experience at any given time.

Radio amateurs meanwhile have been experimenting with programs such as
HamDream <>, a DRM program adapted for
Amateur Radio use by HB9TLK. It enables digital voice and data
transmissions using bandwidths on the order of 2.3 to 2.5 kHz.


Astral aficionado Tad "Shooting Star" Cook, K7RA, Seattle, Washington,
reports: This week has been fantastic for HF propagation! The sun has been
peppered with spots, and--best of all--there have been no geomagnetic
upsets. This is an unusual combination, to have geomagnetic indices so low
while sunspot numbers are up. What could be better just ahead of the CQ
World Wide DX SSB Contest this weekend?

From last week to this week, the average daily sunspot number more than
doubled--rising by more than 75 points to 140.7. The sunspot number was
highest on Sunday, October 24, when it was 178. It hasn't been that high
since last November 30!

Expect great conditions for the CQ WW, and you can expect the higher HF
bands to yield plenty of DX. Average solar flux for this week was about
131, and you can expect continuing solar flux between 130-135 through the
weekend. Saturday, October 30, may have some mildly unsettled geomagnetic
conditions, with a planetary A index of 12.

Sunspot numbers for October 21 through 27 were 112, 134, 141, 178, 146,
124 and 150, with a mean of 140.7. The 10.7 cm flux was 112.1, 122.5,
131.6, 140.2, 141.4, 136.7 and 129.5, with a mean of 130.6. Estimated
planetary A indices were 8, 6, 4, 9, 13, 3 and 3, with a mean of 6.6.
Estimated mid-latitude A indices were 5, 5, 1, 6, 9, 0 and 2, with a mean
of 4.



* This weekend on the radio: The CQ World Wide DX Contest (SSB) and the
10-10 International Fall Contest (CW) are the weekend of October 30-31.
JUST AHEAD: The ARS Spartan Sprint is November 2. The ARRL November
Sweepstakes (CW), the North American Collegiate Amateur Radio Club
Championship (CW), the IPARC Contest (CW/SSB), the Ukrainian DX Contest,
the High Speed Club CW Contest and the DARC 10-Meter Digital Contest are
the weekend of November 6-7. See the ARRL Contest Branch page
<> and the WA7BNM Contest Calendar
<> for more info.

* ARRL Certification and Continuing Education course registration --
Registration for the ARRL RFI (EC-006) and Antenna Design and Construction
(EC-009) courses remains open through Sunday, October 31. Classes begin
Friday, November 12. Antenna Design and Construction students will, among
other things, learn about basic dipoles and ground planes, and how to
assemble combinations of these into more complex antennas. Students also
learn about transmission lines, standing wave ratio, phased arrays and
Yagis. Students participating in the RFI course will learn to identify
various interference sources. Radio Propagation students will study the
science of RF propagation, including the properties of electromagnetic
waves, the atmosphere and the ionosphere, the sun and sunspots, ground
waves and sky waves, and various propagation modes--including aurora and
meteor scatter. To learn more, visit the ARRL Certification and Continuing
Education (C-CE) Web page <> or contact the ARRL
Certification and Continuing Education Program Department,

* Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Course registration: Registration
for the ARRL Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Level I on-line course
(EC-001) opens Monday, November 1, 1201 AM EST, and will remain open
through the November 6-7 weekend or until all available seats have been
filled. Class begins Friday, November 26. Radio amateurs age 55 and older
are strongly encouraged to participate. Thanks to our grant sponsors--the
Corporation for National and Community Service and the United Technologies
Corporation--the $45 registration fee paid upon enrollment will be
reimbursed after successful completion of the course. During this
registration period, seats are being offered to ARRL members on a
first-come, first-served basis. To learn more, visit the ARRL
Certification and Continuing Education Web page <>.
For more information, contact Emergency Communications Course Manager Dan
Miller, K3UFG, <>;; 860-594-0340.

* QRV to vote? "I'm a ham radio operator, and I vote!" Make sure you can
say this to your elected officials by getting out to vote Tuesday,
November 2. Voting is a precious right. As a citizen of a democracy,
informed participation in the electoral process is also your duty.

* Icom America to power W1AW during ARRL November Sweepstakes: Icom
America <> is sponsoring a team of operators to
activate Maxim Memorial Station W1AW during both 2004 ARRL November
Sweepstakes weekends <>.
The CW event is the weekend of November 6-7, while the SSB event is the
weekend of November 20-21. The CW weekend crew will include Mike Mraz,
N6MZ, Ward Silver, N0AX, Dick Dievendorff, K6KR, ARRL Sales and Marketing
Director Dennis Motschenbacher, K7BV, ARRL Contest Manager Dan Henderson,
N1ND, and Icom Division Manager-Amateur Products Ray Novak, N9JA. Team
members for the SSB weekend will be announced later. The Icom America
operators will put Icom's flagship IC-7800 and its newly introduced
IC-756PROIII transceivers through their paces in concert with W1AW's
amplifiers and antennas (photo)--a potentially killer combination. If
you're not a contest regular but want to give SS a try? See "A Contest
Primer," by Ward Silver in October 2003 QST, which discusses operating in
ARRL November Sweepstakes.

* Club commissions for membership renewals are back! Responding to the
wishes of many ARRL-affiliated clubs, the League has reinstated the Club
Commission Membership Recruitment Program, which benefits affiliated clubs
by helping them to bolster the bottom line. For the past couple of years,
ARRL-Affiliated clubs have earned $15 commissions for each new or lapsed
(over two years) membership they submit. Effective immediately, affiliated
clubs now will also earn $2 for each ARRL membership renewal they send in.
This program applies to regular and senior membership dues. (Commissions
do not apply to family or blind memberships, and this program may not be
combined with any other special offer or discount program.) The program is
just one of the many benefits of ARRL club affiliation. Affiliated clubs
might consider taking advantage by scheduling an ARRL membership
recruitment/renewal night. For full details, see the ARRL Club Commission
Membership Recruitment Program Web page

* RSGB proposes 500 kHz amateur band for UK: The Radio Society of Great
Britain (RSGB) has proposed allowing radio amateurs in the UK to operate
either 501-504 kHz or 508-515 kHz at a power of 10 W EIRP. "The
allocation, if accepted, would extend amateurs' experimental work on other
low and medium frequencies and thus aid understanding of propagation in
those parts of the spectrum," the RSGB said. The RSGB proposed the two
band options since they are no longer used for maritime telegraphy in the
Western Hemisphere, their usage for nondirectional aeronautical beacons is
being phased out and the frequencies also are not likely to be reallocated
to another service anytime in the near future. The Wireless Institute of
Australia (WIA) recently announced plans to request the Australian
Communications Authority (ACA) to establish an experimental amateur
allocation at 500 kHz. The RSGB says its proposal was drafted in
consultation with the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) Region 1
500 kHz Working group, formed following World Radiocommunication
Conference 2003 (WRC-03) by the RSGB and chaired by the Union of Belgian
Radio Amateurs UBA. The Working Group includes representatives from all
three IARU regions. The IARU also favors a worldwide Amateur Radio band at
135.7 to 137.8 kHz and is seeking support for such an allocation at
WRC-07. Further details of the RSGB 500 kHz proposal are on the RSGB
Spectrum Forum Web site <>.

* First Australia-US QSO took place 80 years ago: The Wireless Institute
of Australia (WIA) notes that the first direct two-way radio communication
between Australia and the US occurred 80 years ago on November 3, 1924.
Walter Francis Maxwell "Max" Howden, A3BQ (later VK3BQ), contacted William
L. Williams, U6AHP, of  Pomona, California, using Morse code. (A 1924 US
Department of Commerce call book indicates Williams could run up to 300
W.) The contact took place in the vicinity of the current 80-meter band.
Located near Melbourne, A3BQ ran 130 W using a single-tube transmitter.
His antenna consisted of six wires, 65 feet long and 80 feet in the air.
"The first transpacific QSO was a very significant achievement at a time
when radio amateurs were seeking to prove that long-distance communication
was possible on short wavelengths that governments had considered to be
useless," said the WIA's Jim Linton, VK3PC. Nine days later, Howden
achieved the first Australia-to-Great Britain two-way wireless telegraphy
contact by working E. J. Simmonds, G2OD, in Buckingham, England. The
following February, A3BQ again worked G2OD for the first two-way Amateur
Radio phone contact between Australia and the UK--another world first.
"The efforts of the late Max Howden, VK3BQ, and many other pioneering
radio amateurs of that era, both the southern and northern hemispheres,
significantly added to the knowledge of communications." Linton remarked.
"It led to the rapid development of radio in terms of inter-continental
and global communications and opened up the short waves for broadcasting,
international wireless telegraph and many other uses over long distances."

* Halloween special event set: Listen for special event station W0O (get
it?) in Frankenstein, Missiour, starting at 0000 UTC on October 31 and
continuing into 0400 UTC November 1. Operation will be on or about 3.943,
7.233, 14.312, 21.378 and 28.378 MHz. A "super cool" QSL card is
available. QSL to WE0G, 70 NW 601, Centerview, MO 64019.

* N4MC's Vanity HQ Web site to go dark: Mike Carroll, N4MC, has announced
that he no longer is supporting his Vanity HQ Web site
<> "At some point in the near future, the domain will no longer be active," he said in an
announcement on the site. "This is not an action based upon lack of
funding, but a shift in my priorities. Thanks to all!" Over the past
several years, the Vanity HQ site often has been the first stop for those
interested in obtaining an Amateur Radio vanity call sign. Among other
information, it has provided a list of recently issued vanity call signs
as well as available call signs and active vanity call sign applications.
Carroll announced in February that the popular site's future viability was
hanging by a thread, and he indicated then that he'd eventually have to
pull the plug on the site.

The ARRL Letter is published Fridays, 50 times each year, by the American
Radio Relay League--The National Association For Amateur Radio--225 Main
St, Newington, CT 06111; tel 860-594-0200; fax 860-594-0259;
<>. Jim Haynie, W5JBP, President.

The ARRL Letter offers a weekly e-mail digest of essential news of
interest to active amateurs. The ARRL Letter strives to be timely,
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the latest news, updated as it happens. The ARRL Web site
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Material from The ARRL Letter may be republished or reproduced in whole or
in part in any form without additional permission. Credit must be given to
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==>How to Get The ARRL Letter
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The ARRL Letter offers a weekly summary of essential news of interest to active amateurs that is available in advance of publication in QST, our official journal. The ARRL Letter strives to be timely, accurate, concise and readable.

Much of the ARRL Letter content is also available in audio form in ARRL Audio News.

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