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United States Supports Secondary Amateur Radio Allocation at 461-469 and 471-478 kHz


The Federal Communications Commission and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) -- the spectrum regulators for United States private sector and government users, respectively -- have agreed to support a secondary MF allocation to the Amateur Radio Service at 461-469 kHz and 471-478 kHz at the 2012 World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-12), to be held in Geneva, Switzerland from January 23-February 17, 2012. FCC and NTIA officials formally presented the proposal at a meeting of the Second Permanent Consultative Committee (PCC.II) of the Inter-American Telecommunication Commission (CITEL), held August 30-September 3 in Fortaleza, Brazil.

According to ARRL Chief Technology Officer Brennan Price, N4QX, the proposal reconciles two widely divergent proposals for WRC-12 Agenda Item 1.23, adopted by consensus of the private sector and government users. Agenda Item 1.23 calls on WRC-12 “to consider an allocation of about 15 kHz in parts of the band 415-526.5 kHz to the amateur service on a secondary basis, taking into account the need to protect existing services.” The FCC’s WRC-12 Advisory Committee (WAC) had adopted a proposal for a secondary amateur allocation at 495-510 kHz, but the NTIA, acting on the advice of government maritime interests, initially supported no change from the status quo.

“I am pleased that the United States is taking an affirmative position on Agenda Item 1.23,” Price said “While the proposed frequency bands differ from both what the ARRL proposed and the private sector supported by consensus during WAC deliberations, it is gratifying that government interests have backed off a no change position.”

Some maritime interests, both domestically and internationally, have expressed opposition to any amateur allocation in the range 415-526.5 kHz, citing existing narrowband direct printing applications at 490 and 518 kHz, as well as future plans for the band that have yet to be fully characterized, Price explained. To the extent future maritime uses of the band have been discussed, the focus has been on the 495-505 kHz segment. Despite the lack of plans for the remainder of the range under consideration, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has adopted a draft position of “no change” and has communicated this position to the ITU. IARU President Tim Ellam, VE6SH, has met with IMO officials in efforts to soften this position.

“The road to a favorable outcome for Agenda Item 1.23 at WRC-12 remains treacherous,” Price said. “The IMO is a respected organization, and their opinion carries weight. It’s up to us to continue to make the case that a secondary allocation can be made while protecting existing services, both to the IMO and to the ITU Member States who will make the decisions at WRC-12.”

Technical Relations Specialist Jon Siverling, WB3ERA, represented the ARRL on the United States delegation to the CITEL PCC.II meeting. From that meeting, he notes other matters of concern to the Amateur Radio Service:

  • Regarding Agenda Item 1.14, considering an allocation to the radiolocation service between 30-300 MHz, the United States proposed that no change be made in ITU Region 2 and suggested that changes in other regions should be addressed by country-by-country footnotes to the ITU Radio Regulations. Proponents appear to be focusing on 154-156 MHz.
  • Regarding Agenda Item 1.19, considering regulatory provisions for software defined radio (SDR) and cognitive radio systems (CRS), sufficient support for a United States proposal of “no change” was garnered to have the proposal deemed a region-wide Inter-American proposal. The status quo reduces the risk of provisions in the Radio Regulations that could curtail experimentation in SDR and CRS by the Amateur Service and reduce the portability of equipment across international boundaries.



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