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ARRL General Bulletin ARLB018 (2022)

ARLB018 FCC Grants an ARRL Emergency Request to Permit Higher Data
Rate Transmissions for Hurricane Relief Communications

QST de W1AW  
ARRL Bulletin 18  ARLB018
From ARRL Headquarters  
Newington CT  September 28, 2022
To all radio amateurs 

ARLB018 FCC Grants an ARRL Emergency Request to Permit Higher Data
Rate Transmissions for Hurricane Relief Communications

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has granted an ARRL
emergency request for a 60-day temporary waiver intended to
facilitate amateur radio emergency communications for hurricane
relief. The waiver was adopted on Tuesday, September 27, 2022, and
immediately permitted amateur radio operators supporting amateur
data transmission for Hurricane Ian traffic to employ a higher
symbol rate for data transmissions than the current limit of 300

In its Order (DA 22-1011), the FCC concluded "that granting the
requested waiver is in the public interest. Puerto Rico was recently
hit by Hurricane Fiona and Hurricane Ian is predicted to cause
significant damage, including disruption to electricity and
communications services. Thus, to accommodate amateur radio
operators assisting in the recovery efforts, we grant the ARRL's
waiver request for the period of 60 days from the date of this Order
to operate in any parts of the United States and its territories
impacted by hurricanes. The waiver is limited to amateur radio
operators in the United States and its territories using publicly
documented data protocols that are compatible with FCC rules, with
the exception of the data rate limit waived here, for those directly
involved with HF hurricane relief communications."

ARRL's request stated that trained amateur radio operators are
working with emergency management officials and relief organizations
to assist with disaster relief communications in anticipation of the
arrival on the Gulf Coast of Hurricane Ian. ARRL sought the waiver
for Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) volunteers, and other
amateur radio support groups working with federal, state, and local
emergency management officials to assist with disaster relief.

Pursuant to ARRL's request and similar to written waivers granted by
the FCC in earlier years, to qualify, a protocol or mode exceeding
the 300 baud symbol rate limit must (1) be publicly documented, (2)
use no more bandwidth than the currently permissible slower
protocols (generally accepted to be the bandwidth of an SSB signal,
or 2.8 kHz), and (3) be used solely for communications related to
hurricane relief.

Section 97.307(f) of the FCC's rules prevents the use of certain
protocols capable of higher data rate emissions in the High
Frequency (HF) bands that many amateur stations active in emergency
communications preparedness are capable of using. ARRL described
that equipment they plan to use exceeds the 300 baud symbol limit
and that the higher data rates are critical in sending relief
communications. Many use radio modems and personal computers capable
of using digital protocols and modes that would permit faster
messaging rates than normally permitted under the FCC's rules. ARRL
pointed out that higher data rates can be critical to timely
transmission of relief communications, such as lists of needed and
distributed supplies.

ARRL also explained that radio amateurs using higher-speed emissions
for hurricane-related messages in the United States and its
territories must be able to communicate with similar stations in the
US, possibly with Caribbean-based stations that are directly
involved with hurricane relief efforts, and also with Federal
stations on the five channels in the 5 MHz band involved with the
SHARES network and other interoperability partners on those

ARRL also pointed out that the past FCC temporary waivers have
allowed such protocols in similar events including Hurricanes Maria,
Dorian, Laura, and Ida, typhoon relief communications in Hawaii, and
wildfires in the western areas of the US.

In 2016, in response to an ARRL petition for rulemaking, the FCC
proposed to remove the symbol rate limitations, which it tentatively
concluded had become unnecessary due to advances in modulation
techniques and no longer served a useful purpose. That proceeding,
WT Docket 16-239, is still pending.


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