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ARRL General Bulletin ARLB020 (2023)

ARLB020 Hurricane Idalia: FCC Approves ARRL Petition to Aid
Emergency Communications

QST de W1AW  
ARRL Bulletin 20  ARLB020
From ARRL Headquarters  
Newington CT  August 30, 2023
To all radio amateurs 

ARLB020 Hurricane Idalia: FCC Approves ARRL Petition to Aid
Emergency Communications

The ARRL has received approval from the Federal Communications
Commission (FCC) for an emergency waiver to facilitate amateur radio
emergency communications for hurricane relief.

The request, filed by the ARRL Washington DC Counsel on August 29,
2023, seeks a waiver of HF symbol rate restrictions.

Trained radio amateurs involved with the Amateur Radio Emergency
Service (ARES) and other communications support groups are working
with federal, state, and local emergency management officials and
relief organizations to assist with disaster relief communications
in anticipation of the arrival of Hurricane Idalia at the Florida
coast. Their equipment includes radio modems and computers that are
capable of data transmissions that exceed the regulatory baud symbol
rate limit yet use the same or less bandwidth as slower-speed
protocols that are permitted. 

The higher data rates are critical to sending the anticipated relief
communications, including lists of needed and distributed supplies,
etc. Many other amateur stations involved in disaster relief
communications are able to use the higher-speed emissions from their
stations inside and outside the anticipated landfall area or
involved areas to assist in the communication efforts.

The waiver, which was granted August 30, is for a 60-day relief
period from the rules, based upon the immediate need related to the
threat of Hurricane Idalia. It would cover use directly related to
any additional hurricanes that may develop within the 60-day period.
Only messages related to these hurricanes would be permitted to be
sent via the higher-speed modes, and only publicly documented modes
would be allowed.

The waiver is available in PDF format at, .

ARRL Director of Emergency Management Josh Johnston, KE5MHV, said
the rate increase will help response abilities. "The increased
symbol rate provides for faster more efficient message transmissions
for digital communications. These modes such as WINLINK (WL2K) are
used to send forms for served agencies and other data that can be
vital during a disaster," he said.

Johnston and volunteers of the Amateur Radio Emergency Service
(ARES) are closely coordinating with ARRL Sections in Florida. The
ARRL Northern Florida Section is activated in preparation for
Hurricane Idalia. ARES volunteers are staffing the auxiliary
communications position at the Florida Emergency Operations Center,
which was activated at 7:00 AM on August 29.

Several other hurricane-related amateur radio nets were active ahead
of the storm. Hurricane Idalia strengthened into a Category 4 storm
briefly in the overnight hours of Wednesday, August 30 before being
downgraded to Category 3. The storm made landfall in the Great Bend
region of Florida's Gulf Coast with sustained winds of 120 miles per

Please see ARRL's previous news story for more details at, .


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