A Special Note: The HF Band Plan Committee

Just a note to ARRL Northwestern Division members that I was fortunate
to have been appointed as one of the six members of the committee
referenced in today’s ARRL Press Release (below). As a member of this
committee I will be able to work with digital mode experts within our
Division, and others, to ensure that we can develop a working HF band
plan that will accommodate all interests and modes as best as humanly

Please note that HF spectrum re-allocated to support one mode, or
sub-mode, has to come from spectrum currently occupied by another mode,
or sub-mode. That will be the most difficult part of this task, and in
the end I suspect that not everybody will be pleased with the outcome.
Please rest assured that no final changes to the current HF band plan
will be voted upon by me until they have been vetted by our Division
members, and those members have had the chance to provide their input.

The ARRL Press Release:

ARRL HF Band Planning Committee Reactivated to Address Spectrum Issues


In an effort to more effectively address HF digital technology issues,
ARRL President Rick Roderick, K5UR, has reactivated the ARRL Board of
Directors’ HF Band Planning Committee. The six-member panel, chaired
by First Vice President Greg Widin, K0GW, will primarily focus on
spectrum allocation issues that have gained increased visibility with
discussions on accommodating automatically controlled digital stations
(ACDS) — many employing Winlink email. The committee will also discuss
operating frequencies for FT4, FT8, and other digital modes. Widin says
the committee will meet next week to chart its course. Reactivation of
the HF Band Planning Committee came out of discussions during the July
2019 ARRL Board meeting.

“ARRL is not trying to shut down digital communication or shut down
Winlink in particular,” Widin said, adding that ARRL recognizes
Winlink’s proven track record in emergency communication. His
committee also will consider Winlink supporters’ calls for the
expansion of the ACDS segments spelled out in §97.221(b) of the amateur

“This is not an easy task by any means,” Widin allowed. “They’re
not making more bandwidth.” He said this is especially a problem on 40

“We’re well aware that Winlink is the de facto standard supporting
emergency communications in many parts of the country, but we have to
figure out how it can operate with other modes, so that everybody can
communicate,” Widin said, “without having one mode overrun any other
mode.” The committee will not address data encryption questions at
this point, however.

In response to ARRL’s 2013 petition to delete the so-called “symbol
rate” limit and replace it with a maximum bandwidth for data emissions
of 2.8 kHz below 29.7 MHz, the FCC proposed to eliminate symbol rate
(baud rate) limitations for data transmissions but declined to propose a
bandwidth limitation.

At its July meeting, the ARRL Board of Directors called for ARRL’s
Washington Counsel to obtain FCC approval for several Part 97 rule
changes. The Board asked for a rulemaking petition to remove the current
300 baud rate limitation; authorize all ACDS below 30 MHz, regardless of
bandwidth, to operate only within the ACDS bands designated in
§97.221(b); require digital stations operating with a bandwidth greater
than 500 Hz to operate within the ACDS bands, whether or not
automatically controlled, and limit the maximum bandwidth of digital
signals below 29 MHz to 2.8 kHz.

ARRL-initiated mediation efforts for rival parties to reach consensus on
all or some of the issues raised in the “symbol rate” proceeding
ended a few days prior to the July Board meeting. While those discussion
were useful, no consensus among parties was reached for FCC
consideration. Widin said some positions may have been too divergent to
find viable middle ground.

“We still want to change the symbol rate limitation into a bandwidth
limitation, which makes a lot more sense in terms of current and future
modes,” Widin said. The panel also hopes to work with the WSJT-X
Development Group to establish FT4 frequencies compatible with existing
band plans.
Widin further suggested that his committee will have to look beyond the current landscape of HF digital modes into what might lie ahead.

Thank you again for your continued support.


Mike Ritz, W7VO
ARRL Northwestern Division Director


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