Friday, February 24, 2012

200 Meters and Up!

For the first time in a century, amateur radio operators will soon be able to transmit on wavelengths higher than 200 meters (1500 kHz). The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has approved a new worldwide secondary allocation for amateur radio between 472 and 479 kHz (approximately 630 meters). The 7-kHz-wide band was approved at February's World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-12).

According to the ARRL, power is limited to one watt EIRP (effective isotropically radiated power), except that the limit may be increased to five watts in countries more than 800 kilometers (500 miles) from certain countries that want to give greater protection to the aeronautical radionavigation service, which is the band's primary user. These countries include Russia, Ukraine, China and several others, mostly in the Middle East and north Africa.

The new allocation will not take effect until it is published in the Radio Regulations, which the ARRL says will likely be no earlier than next January. In addition, in the U.S., FCC action will be necessary after the new international rule is in force. Hams in the United States have been restricted to wavelengths below 200 meters since the enactment of the Radio Act of 1912. 

CQ "Washington Readout" editor Fred Maia, W5YI, will have a detailed report on the new allocation in his column in the May issue of CQ.