A serious FCC rules enforcement issue concerns the increasing number of US radio amateurs' radio CW and digital emissions on 60 meters that are out of compliance with Part 97.303(h) or on completely unauthorized frequencies. Despite repeated explanations of the regulation in public forums, some US amateurs continue these infractions either through ignorance or express disagreement with the rules. This matter may adversely impact the National Telecommunications and Information Administration's (NTIA) disposition to expand our access to 60 meter frequencies as proposed in the ARRL's Petition for Rulemaking.
If you wish to assist in this enforcement and education matter, you may consider requesting your Official Observers to document frequency centers, call signs, dates and times of 60 meter signals in violation for submission to ARRL headquarters.
Below is a detailed write up on this matter (also posted at ARRL Sacramento Valley Section) for your reference.
- Carol Milazzo, KP4MD
ARRL Sacramento Valley Section Manager
Posted January 29, 2017
Our decreasing solar activity and residential antenna restrictions have attracted increasing numbers of radio amateurs to operate CW and weak signal digital modes on our lower HF frequencies including 60 meters. The five frequency channels that US amateur radio operators share on a secondary basis with US federal government users on 60 meters (5 MHz) pose unique requirements for CW and digital operators. As explained on ARRL , US radio amateur emissions on our 60m channels must be precisely centered in the center frequency of each assigned channel, that is, 5332.0, 5348.0, 5358.5, 5373.0 or 5405.0 kHz. Thus, for example, a CW signal on channel 3 (USB Dial frequency 5357.0 kHz) must be precisely on 5358.5 kHz. The same ARRL page explains that all digital emissions must also be centered in the channel center.
This may appear unreasonable to radio amateurs because a 2.8 kHz channel can accommodate many digital and CW transmissions simultaneously, and requiring multiple stations to operate on the same exact frequency would result in mutual interference. The NTIA explains this requirement in which it states: "Allowing multiple emissions within the necessary bandwidth of the widest authorized modes (2.8 kHz) increases the possibility of harmful interference from secondary amateur stations to primary federal stations, and would make it more difficult for a federal station to identify an interfering amateur station. In addition, NTIA is concerned about the aggregate equivalent isotropically radiated power from multiple amateur stations transmitting within a single 2.8 kHz channel. Accordingly, NTIA requests that 47 C.F.R. Section 97.303(h) continue to require that amateur stations transmit only on the five center frequencies allocated to the amateur service." (See FCC rule 97.303 (h))
This screenshot photo shows JT65 signals received on 60m Channel 3 (5357 kHz USB dial frequency) from 0300-0309 UTC on January 29, 2017. In the photo, the 5357 kHz dial frequency is at 0 Hz on the left side of the waterfall and the 5358.5 kHz channel center is at the 1500 Hz mark. Decodes of several US radio amateurs are seen transmitting JT65 emissions simultaneously on various frequencies throughout the channel 3 frequency range 5357-5360 kHz. This is the familiar appearance of a JT65 waterfall display on all other amateur radio bands; however, it does not meet the NTIA requirement that each US radio amateur transmission be centered on the 1500 Hz mark (the 5358.5 kHz channel center frequency).
This link on WSPR Net lists recent WSPR mode emissions on 60 meters. One can scroll down that list and see how many A, K, N and W call signs have been transmitting WSPR mode outside the authorized 60 meter center channel frequencies. Many US WSPR transmissions are now being observed on 5288 kHz, a completely unauthorized frequency for US radio amateurs.
Each licensee has the final responsibility for the lawful operation of his or her station.
Unfortunately, the increasing automation in our radios has apparently accustomed some to falsely assume that the radio will correct for operator carelessness and ignorance of regulations. Our cooperation with NTIA requirements is essential for our continued access to the 60m channels and for possible future access to the new ITU worldwide 60 meter allocation at 5351.5 to 5366.5 kHz. (See ARRL articles ARRL Asks FCC to Allocate New 5 MHz Band, Retain Channels and Current Power Limit and FCC Invites Comments on ARRL Petition to Allocate New 5 MHz Band).
Please be aware of these requirements if you intend to or currently operate CW or digital modes on our shared 60m allocations. Our Amateur Auxiliary is documenting this matter and hopes to raise its awareness in the wider amateur radio community.