Counter Proposal to ARRL Draft HF Band Plan

Current Status of RM-11769, RM-11759, RM-11708, WT 16-239,
ARRL HF 75 Meter Phone Reduction and Free Digital EMail Petitions

Note - below information is historical. Please see above link instead.

I first have to ask why in the time since FCC RM-11708 was so universally opposed, that a better solution has not been put forward by the committee. In contrast, ARRL is trying to push through this hasty and ill-planned initiative that will destroy weak signal work on 40 meters forever, and have negative impact on most other HF bands. I am going to "break this down real simple." This is not a new idea either. Several other amateur bands have already been using this type of solution.

But it is clear that the existing ARRL HF band planning committee does not know anything about propagation in the HF spectrum (evidenced by their statement of no American DX work on 40), does not have the patience to properly coordinate competing weak signal modes on 40 meters (it wasn't worth their time to try), and has no talent for negotiating positive change (as evidenced by ramming something through instead of using public input for solutions).

It is very clear by now that someone needs to "think outside the box". Let's not rush this half-baked thing through without trying something else which will actually work. Here is a method to solve this problem.

Wide band and automatically controlled digital modes like Winlink and Pactor 3 and 4 are fundamentally incompatible with other digital modes. They also do not coexist well with RTTY, CW, or SSB signals due to the "channel busy" of the ACDS stations being either unable to cope with other modes or deliberately turned off. They need to be located away from weak signal work completely. Just because a ACDS or Pactor signal is nominally "digital' in nature, does not mean it has to be located next to other digital signals.

Weak signal work generally occurs on the low end of any ham band. This is true throughout the VHF spectrum and particularly on 6 meters and 2 meters, where there is a lot of CW and SSB or other weak signal work. In general, HF bands have a 25 KHz set aside for CW. In the USA, that is typically reserved for Extra Class Licensees who traditionally in the past have passed a high speed code speed test.

On 30 meters, ARRL has already proposed putting the ACDS (automatically controlled digital station) and wide band Pactor 4 and Winlink activity at the TOP of the band.

On 10 meters, a wide band mode FM with automatically controlled stations (repeaters) are located at the TOP of the band. The AM operating area is 29.0 MHz to 29.2 MHz. Both are wide band modes and cause no disruption to weak signal modes such as CW, RTTY, or SSB. They coexist on the same band without conflict.

On 40 meters, a wide band mode (AM) is already operating in the AM window at the TOP end of the band. Some alignment between SSB weak signal long haul work is already possible between certain IARU regions. Other weak signal SSB work is done in split frequency mode between other IARU regions. The ARRL HF band planning committee has apparently not heard that some radios come equipped with a "VFO B."

On 15 and 20 meters, AM seems to be gradually migrating to the TOP end of the band.

On 160 meters, we have gotten along just fine, thank you WITHOUT ANY BAND PLAN AT ALL! On CW contest weekends, the activity moves up often higher than 1.9 MHz. The next weekend, things are back to normal. If ACDS and wide band Pactor 4 move into this band, world wide communication will become a thing of the past. The ignorance of the existing band planning committee would likely never have heard of the book: "Low Band DXing" by ON4UF.

HERE IS MY PROPOSAL:
  1. Think outside the box. If ARRL plans to forge ahead with the ACDS and wide band digital modes (2.8 KHz) Pactor 4 and such, place all such activity at the TOP of any band it is allowed on. Adjust all other band segments, windows, and license class set asides downward to accommodate the change at the top of the band.
  2. Allow NO ACDS or wide band (2.8 KHz) data modes on 40 meters at all. There will be adjacent bands like 80 or 30 that have space for it that will allow effective use of it. Once the message gets into the Winlink system, it can be sent via the Internet as planned.
  3. Allow NO Novice or Technician activity on ACDS or wide band (2.8 KHz) digital modes in the HF spectrum other than 10 meters. If they want to use such modes, they must get the training to do so by passing a General or higher class exam.
  4. For legitimate Emergency Communications uses, there needs to be band space allocated that will not be disrupted by other modes or inexperienced Novice or Technician operations doing routine email that could just as well be conducted by commercial providers. I have no problem providing space for valuable EmComm work. It just does not NEED to be in the area of prime DX work. It should not be in those areas BECAUSE DX work could unwittingly interfere with Emergency Communications work if it does not happen to own one of the $1000 modems necessary to decode it.
  5. Replace the existing ARRL band planning committee with new members who have proven experience with HF propagation and band use. Someone with the professional credentials of K7RA must be on the new committee. Also, three members, one each with DXCC standing with modes endorsements of CW, one of SSB, one of PSK-31/RTTY. Or constitute this as a peer review committee with actual VETO power for any further reports generated by the existing band planning committee.
  6. If ARRL is unable to find qualified individuals within their ranks, I am volunteering to serve as chair and seek appropriate members on my own. However, I will likely select a committee from people who are NOT ARRL members, to avoid any hint of collusion or contamination of results.

2015 July ARRL Board Minutes Summary
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73,
Janis Carson
AB2RA