Monday, July 26, 2021

Modernizing Amateur Radio Regulations

Steve, N8GNJ asked me to consolidate my regulatory changes that I think are required to modernize US Amateur Radio.

What I am about to present isn't new. Bruce, K6BP wrote a well thought and researched overview in 2017 in response to a Technological Advisory Council (TAC) on reforming rechnical regulations across all FCC radio services.

Several of the personal radio service rules (Part 95) were subsquenctly.

And some are still in motion:

Meanwhile there are number of ham radio requests, some even from the ARRL that have gone no where. (Symbol Rate Petition of 2013, and the 2018 Technician Enhancement Proposal). And as Bruce pointed out most of our regulations have been unchanged for 65 years or more.

Oct 2017 (Puerto Rico):>

Sep 2019:

Sep 2021 (Hurricane Ida):

So here we go:

Our Basis and Purpose MUST be freshened up to relect the educational benefits and purposes for continued justification of spectrum allocation to the Amateur Service.

Our emergency services role continues to diminish (with the advent of FirstNet and Starlink) and the other currently-stated missions of Amateur Radio have already reached irrelevance.

Bruce pointed out the context of "enhance international goodwill" was written before direct dialing of long distance calls (transatlantic telephone cables). So, Radio Amateurs were the only people who regularly had casual conversations with people overseas.

He also pointed out that the word "reservoir" is critical to understanding this statement:
"Expansion of the existing reservoir within the amateur radio service of trained operators, technicians, and electronics experts"

The U.S. was at war in Korea as this statement was written, and World War II had concluded less than a decade before. The military had a need for a reservoir of trained radiotelegraph operators who could go to war.

Bruce pointed out the word “education” doesn’t appear in §97.1, and there is no tie-in to the oft-promoted need to educate young citizens in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics).

This second part is my own hot button topic since data is my fotre.

"§97.305 through §97.309 spell out a limited set of modes, modulations, and digital data codes which Radio Amateurs can use on the air. They date back to the analog age, and limit innovation because they do not permit the use of modern modes and modulations in the Amateur Service"

I've written before on how I feel its just plain silly that we classify our transmissions by how we use them (what we convey) and that defines what rules apply. i.e Digital voice modes, while all ones and zeros don't fall under the data rules, the fall under the voice rules. I've also harped about how the fast scan amateur television rules let video modes occupy 6 MHz or more (actually no bandwith limit), while data is limited to 100 KHz.

And its dumber that just all that. Now that FreeDV is starting to become more common on HF, its classified as a voice mode since that is what is being conveyed. So its required to be in the voice segments, not the data, etc.

Regulation based on the bandwidth of the transmission, rather than the modulation type and mode is overdue folks. Its the only thing that makes any sense.

I'm partial to the 2.8 kHz below 30 MHz proposal, and no maxium bandwidth or data rates above 30 MHz.

Whatever you wish for please keep in mind that is almost next to impossilbe to get the FCC to change anything for Part 97 and takes decades to do so. We'd be best off with as few rules as possbile and just implementing more gentlemans agreements. It's not like the FCC does any active enforcement anyway.

Per W5NYV who serves on aa FCC TAC "movement at our current FCC happenings are when there are compelling economic or public safety motivations. Preferably, both."

That does explain why N9NB put the open communications for the sake of national security spin on things.

It does not explain how Part 95 services were granted their requests and ours are in limbo.