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ARRL General Bulletin ARLB022 (2021)

ARLB022 FCC Grants Temporary Waiver to Permit Higher Symbol Rate
Data Transmissions for Hurricane Ida Traffic

QST de W1AW  
ARRL Bulletin 22  ARLB022
From ARRL Headquarters  
Newington CT  August 30, 2021
To all radio amateurs 

ARLB022 FCC Grants Temporary Waiver to Permit Higher Symbol Rate
Data Transmissions for Hurricane Ida Traffic

The FCC has granted an ARRL emergency request for a temporary waiver
intended to facilitate relief communications in the wake of
Hurricane Ida. The waiver was orally granted on Saturday, August 28,
and immediately permitted amateur data transmissions related to
Hurricane Ida traffic to employ a higher symbol rate for data
transmissions than the current limit of 300 baud.

ARRL pointed out in its request that Amateur Radio Emergency Service
(ARES) members are working with federal, state, and local emergency
management officials to assist with disaster relief. 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.

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. ARRL sought the waiver for radio
amateurs directly involved with hurricane relief on HF using
high-speed data transmissions, and the FCC orally granted the
emergency temporary waiver for traffic related to Hurricane Ida. The
temporary waiver is good until a written decision is made on ARRL's
request that would cover the remainder of the hurricane season.

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 Ida. ARRL is hopeful that the FCC will grant a longer-term
waiver this week to enable planning and communications for any
additional hurricanes this season.


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