Amateur Radio will be upgraded on August 6 from secondary to primary in the 1900-2000 kHz segment of 160 meters in the US. That’s the effective date of the WRC-07 implementation Report and Order and WRC-12 Order portions of a lengthy FCC document released on April 27. Both portions appeared on July 7 in the Federal Register; the Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) of the same proceeding was published in the Federal Register on July 2. The FCC also made a secondary allocation of 135.7-137.8 kHz to the Amateur Service, but this band will not be available until service rules have been adopted.
“The FCC action with respect to 1900-2000 kHz reduces the possibility that we might suffer in the future from new radiolocation deployments,” said ARRL CEO David Sumner, K1ZZ. “On the other hand, we will have to put up with radio buoys that have been operating illegally in the band but that now have been ‘regularized’ by the Commission.”
The FCC said that while it had believed there was no non-Federal RLS use of the 1900-2000 kHz band, the record indicated there are maritime users, including the US “high seas” migratory species fishing fleets, making use of radio buoys in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans as well as within 200 nautical miles of the coast. It did not identify these users in the WRC-07 proceeding, however, “because they did not appear in its licensing database,” it said.
“Apparently, fishing vessels have operated radio buoys in US waters under the belief that a ship station license issued under Part 80 of the Commission’s rules permits operation of the buoys,” the FCC Order continued. The FCC said a Part 80 license applies only to stations in the maritime services and does not authorize operation of radio stations requiring a Part 90 license, “such as the radio buoys at issue here.”
The FCC said its action regarding 1900-2000 kHz supports increased use of 160 meters as reported by commenters in the proceeding and provides “spectrum support” for Amateur Radio emergency communication. The FCC said its action also offers the Amateur Service “the long-term security that primary status entails.”
In removing the primary RLS allocation, the FCC added a new footnote to the US Table of Allocations that provides for radio buoy operations in the 1900-2000 kHz segment on a primary basis in Region 2 (the Americas) and on a secondary basis in Region 3, which limits operations to the open sea.
“The Commission nevertheless recognized the public benefit associated with the use of radio buoys by the US commercial fishing fleet,” the FCC continued. It adopted a waiver of the Part 80 and Part 90 rules to authorize offshore radio buoy use by commercial fishing vessels, concluding that the granting the waiver was in the public interest. “Use of these radio buoys allows such commercial fishing vessels to locate their fishing lines and nets more quickly, which saves them fuel and time and reduces the likelihood that fishing lines and nets will be lost,” the FCC said.
The FCC said that since the buoys “appear to use low power and narrow bandwidths,” they should have “minimal impact” on Amateur Radio users of the 1900-2000 kHz segment.
The FCC also concluded that it is in the public interest to establish a secondary Amateur Radio allocation at 135.7-137.8 kHz — 2200 meters, although the new band is not yet authorized for amateur use. “In accordance with the WRC-07 Final Acts, the Commission also restricted use of this secondary Amateur Service allocation to amateur stations transmitting a maximum equivalent isotropically radiated power (EIRP) of 1 W.” The Commission is inviting comments until August 31 on how it should structure operational rules for that allocation as well as for a proposed 472-479 kHz allocation, 630 meters.