The FCC has granted an ARRL request to waive current Amateur Radio rules to permit data transmissions at a higher symbol rate than currently permitted, in order to facilitate hurricane relief communications between the continental US and Puerto Rico. The temporary waiver is limited to Amateur Radio operators in Puerto Rico using PACTOR 3 and PACTOR 4 emissions, and to those radio amateurs in the continental US who are directly involved with HF hurricane relief communications involving Puerto Rico or the US Virgin Islands, the Commission said.
“We conclude that granting the requested waiver is in the public interest,” the FCC said in its October 5 Order. “Hurricane Maria caused massive destruction in Puerto Rico, and communication services continue to be disrupted. Thus, to accommodate Amateur Radio operators assisting in the recovery efforts, we grant the ARRL’s waiver request for the period of 60 days from the date of this Order.”
ARRL explained in its waiver petition that it’s shipping five PACTOR radio modems to Puerto Rico for use in connection with Hurricane Maria disaster relief communications. The League asked the FCC to temporarily allow PACTOR 3 and PACTOR 4 transmissions that exceed the current symbol rate limitations under § 97.307(f) of the Amateur Service rules.
Under the current rules, “specified digital codes” in Part 97 may be used with a symbol rate that does not exceed 300 baud for frequencies below 28 MHz, with the exception of 60 meters, and 1200 baud in the 10 meter band. The baud rate limits were adopted in 1980, when the FCC amended Part 97 to specify ASCII as a permissible digital code.