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NU9N SSB Audio News Editorial - February, 2006
ARRL RM-11306 Petition

ARRL RM-11306 Petition
ARRL Out Of Touch With Modern HF Operations Again!

Download "RM-11306.pdf" by clicking here...

NU9N News - February, 2006

About NU9NThe Amateur Radio HF Band Plans are out of date and in desperate need of revision. But does the ARRL have the right idea on how to fix it with RM-11306? I think not.

The current amateur radio band plan is definitely antiquated and plagued with an assortment of problems.

The biggest problem I see is the 200 kHz or so of mostly unused CW only bandwidth on several of the HF bands. I have nothing against CW or the operators who still use it. It's a great mode and should stay in our bandplan. But 200 kHz of bandwidth? Give me a break! 150 kHz of this precious bandwidth could be farmed out for phone that would greatly ease some of the QRM during heavy activity periods and still leave plenty of room for the narrow CW operations. The ARRL does not seem to respect the vintage AM mode because they considerate it antiquated, so why give CW all of this bandwidth? It's a mystery to me.

Another problem we face with the current HF bandplan are modes of operations that do not mix, such as SSB, AM and SSTV. Even though there are so called "Gentleman's Agreement" in place, no one really respects them as can be heard on any given morning or evening from 3875 ~ 3890 kHz, where the "AM Window" is located. The only way I know of to fix these non-compatible modes is to create a bandplan that segregates these modes in their own respective sub-bands like what has been done with the CW sub-band. The bandplan could be partitioned in such a way that SSB, eSSB, AM, RTTY and SSTV all have their operating range, yet still be in alignment with international bandplans and DX operations. It would take some careful consideration in drawing up such a plan, but isn't that what the ARRL should be doing with their time and resources?

And what's up with this "Digital e-Mail Forwarding System" that's included in RM-11306? Talk about antiquated... Yes, the current HF 300 baud digital rate is a joke. But 1200, 2400, 9600, or even 14400 baud would still be antiquated as compared to even the old 56kbs dial-up rate on the commercial phone lines that is painfully slow, as compared to modern commercial broadband Internet services.

Amateur radio used to be a place where cutting edge technology was experimented with, developed and implemented. The commercial electronics world used to look at the amateur radio hobby and marvel at the innovations that were spun out of the shacks of hams that were free to be innovative. Sad to say, this all changed when the standards required to be an amateur radio operator plunged down to the knowledge of a common CB operator, all for the sake of more ARRL membership. This has left us with a majority of operators who, for the most part, cannot measure RF bandwidth, let alone control it. Worse yet is the reality that many do not understand the difference between what bandwidth is being transmitted and what is being received on any given signal they are trying to analyze.

From an audio quality perspective, if the bandwidth of a phone emission becomes regulated (3.5kHz for SSB and 4.5kHz for AM) how will amateur radio ever be able to compete with online commercial services such as Skype (VOIP that's capable of about 8kHz full duplex) and be an attraction to young hobbyists looking for quality voice reproduction on the air? The whole neo-nazi-bandwidth-cop mentality sometimes found on the HF bands are enough to make a new ham confused to the point of wondering why he/she can't experiment in a hobby that was defined as an experimenter's hobby to begin with.

I used to be naive enough to believe that quality phone transmissions were desirable, even at the cost of additional bandwidth. But the DX mentality, contest mentality, net mentality and "squeeze as many people on the band as we can" mentality seems to have proliferated the experimentation mentality that was the crux of the amateur radio philosophy. It's time to reclaim the spirit of FCC Part 97.1 and move beyond all of the nonsense that has developed as a result of substandard qualifications of the amateur radio operator.

If you are reading this for the first time, and have not yet filed your comments with the FCC regarding RM-11306, you are probably already to late. From what I can tell, it looks like the majority of amateurs are opposed to the petition. In any case, I have pasted my comments to RM-11306 filed on 02/02/06 below:

I am opposed to the ARRL petition "RM-11306"
for the following reasons:

- "RM-11306" violates FCC Part 97.1(b), (c) and (d)
(The Basis and Purpose of Amateur Radio) therefore prohibiting new
experimentation that would advance the communications and technical
aspects of the art in several areas.

- A bandwidth oriented bandplan does NOT address any interference
problems caused by mixing modes on adjacent frequencies using
similar bandwidths.

- It is basically the same proposal as "
RM-10740" regarding
bandwidth limitations, rejected by the FCC in it's decision
DA-04-3661", released on November 24, 2004, in which the FCC made
the proper decision to not infringe on the experimental aspect of
amateur radio.

- The bandplan changes proposed in "RM-11306" are untested and not
compatible with the multi-mode operations (such as AM and SSB Phone)
on any given HF band. Even at the same occupied bandwidth, these
modes do NOT mix.

- Measuring total occupied bandwidth is not for the faint of heart
and is extremely difficult to measure, even for an experienced RF
engineer. To expect the modern amateur operator to measure and
regulate bandwidth is an unreasonable expectation.

- Regulation and enforcement of total occupied bandwidth would be
a burden that the FCC would be responsible to regulate, which is
not a desirable attribute for the amateur's self regulation policy
currently in effect. The FCC has enough to worry about now.

- "RM-11-306" does not address problems conducive to modern amateur
radio communications, such as mode mixing, antiquated and unused
CW bandwidth, that could be utilized for phone modes, and higher
quality phone communications that may require extra bandwidth.

Amateur Radio bandplans do need reform, but only if the real
problems mentioned are taken into consideration.

RM-11-306 does NOT address or solve for the current
antiquated bandplans and their inherent problems and should therefore
be rejected in it's entirety.

John M. Anning, NU9N

John M. Anning - NU9N
Phone: 1-815-631-5042
  e-Mail NU9N
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