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Comment Deadlines Set on Proposed 60 Meter Band Changes

A public period is open until October 30, 2023 for radio amateurs to comment on proposed changes to the 60 Meter band. ARRL The National Association for Amateur Radio® is asking all radio amateurs to join it in urging the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to continue the existing use of the band. ARRL is encouraging expressions of support to the FCC for the current 100 watt ERP power limit (instead of reducing the power limit to 15 watts EIRP) and continuing secondary access to the current channels. An opportunity to reply to comments ends on Nov. 28. Comments should be submitted in FCC Docket No. WT 23-120.

Currently, radio amateurs in the US have use of five discrete channels on a secondary basis on which they are permitted an effective radiated power (ERP) of 100 watts ERP. In the NPRM the Commission solicits comment on reducing the secondary allocation to 15 kHz of contiguous spectrum between 5351.5 - 5366.5 kHz with a power limit of 15 watts EIRP (equivalent to 9.1 watts ERP). The lesser spectrum and reduced power limit was adopted by the 2015 World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-15).

The federal government is the primary user of the 5 MHz spectrum. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), the federal government’s spectrum regulator, has argued that the WRC-15 proposals should be implemented as written. Doing so would result in amateurs losing four of the discreet channels they have been using on a secondary basis and having the maximum permissible power reduced by more than 10 dB, from 100 watts ERP to 9.1 watts ERP.

In 2017, ARRL petitioned the FCC to keep four of the current five 60-meter channels — one would be within the new band — as well as the current limit of 100 watts ERP. “Such implementation will allow radio amateurs engaged in emergency and disaster relief communications, and especially those between the United States and the Caribbean basin, to more reliably, more flexibly and more capably conduct those communications [and preparedness exercises], before the next hurricane season … ,” ARRL said in its petition.

ARRL said that years of amateur radio experience using the five discrete 5-MHz channels demonstrated that amateurs coexist well with the primary users at 5 MHz. “Neither ARRL, nor, apparently, NTIA is aware of a single reported instance of interference to a federal user by a radio amateur operating at 5 MHz to date,” ARRL said in its 2017 petition.

ARRL will continue to advocate to maintain the 100-watt limit for 60 meters, continued authorization for the four channels outside the WRC allocation that are being used today, and adoption of the new 15 kHz allocation with the same 100-watt power limit.

In the NPRM, the FCC recognizes that Canada adopted rules equivalent to those proposed by the ARRL. “Finally, we note that Canada has essentially implemented the same rules as ARRL has requested,” the Commission wrote.

The FCC seeks comment on the proposed 15 kHz of contiguous spectrum, but also on whether the existing channels should remain allocated to amateur radio on a secondary basis, and whether the maximum power limitations should be reduced from 100 to 9.1 watts ERP. The FCC also requested comments on whether the power limitation should be expressed as EIRP as the WRC-15 recommends or as ERP as in the current rules.


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