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ARRL General Bulletin ARLB025 (2022)

ARLB025 Rep. Lesko Introduces Bill to Replace Symbol Rate Limit with
Bandwidth Limit

QST de W1AW  
ARRL Bulletin 25  ARLB025
From ARRL Headquarters  
Newington CT  December 23, 2022
To all radio amateurs 

ARLB025 Rep. Lesko Introduces Bill to Replace Symbol Rate Limit with
Bandwidth Limit

Congresswoman Debbie Lesko (AZ-08) introduced a bill in the U.S.
House of Representatives (H.R. 9664) on December 21, 2022, to
require that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) replace the
current HF digital symbol rate limit with a 2.8 kHz bandwidth limit.

After being petitioned by ARRL, The National Association for Amateur
Radio, in 2013 (RM-11708) for the same relief, in 2016 the
Commission issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (WT Docket No.
16-239) in which it agreed that the HF symbol rate limit was
outmoded, served no purpose, and hampered experimentation. But the
Commission questioned whether any bandwidth limit was needed in its
place. Most amateurs, including the ARRL, objected to there being no
signal bandwidth limit in the crowded HF bands given the possibility
that unreasonably wide bandwidth digital protocols could be
developed, and since 2016 there has been no further FCC action.

In conjunction with introducing the legislation, Congresswoman Lesko
stated that "With advances in our modern technology, increased
amounts of data can be put on the spectrum, so there is less of a
need for a regulatory limit on symbol rates. I am pleased to
introduce this important piece of legislation to update the FCC's
rules to support the critical role amateur radio operators play and
better reflect the capabilities of our modern radio technology."

ARRL President Rick Roderick, K5UR, hailed introduction of the bill.
Roderick stated that "the FCC's delay in removing this outdated
restriction has been incomprehensible, given that the biggest effect
of the delay is to require totally inefficient spectrum use on the
already-crowded amateur HF bands. I hope that the Commission will
act to remove this harmful limitation without waiting for the bill
to be passed."

ARRL Legislative Committee Chairman John Robert Stratton, N5AUS,
added that "the symbol rate limit hampers experimentation and
development of more efficient HF data protocols by U.S. amateurs.
For all practical purposes the field has been ceded to amateurs
outside the U.S., where there is no comparable limit. Removing the
restriction not only will allow U.S. amateurs to use the most
efficient data protocol suitable for their purpose, but it also will
promote and incentivize U.S. amateurs to experiment with and develop
even more efficient protocols."


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