Thursday, March 30, 2017

FLASH! FCC Approves New MF/LF Ham Bands

Hams in the U.S. will soon have two new bands on which to operate, experiment and contribute to the collective knowledge of "the radio art." In a Report and Order issued on March 30, the FCC approved creation of secondary amateur allocations at 135.7-137.8 kHz (2200 meters) and 472-479 kHz (630 meters), the first amateur bands with wavelengths above 200 meters since the dawn of radio regulation.

The new bands come with lots of strings attached, since they will be shared with "PLC" systems used by electric utilities to control the nation's power grid. Hams will be limited to fixed station operation, antennas no higher than 60 meters (196 feet) above ground and radiated power limits of 1 watt effective isotropic radiated power (EIRP) on 2200 meters and 5 watts EIRP on 630 meters (1 watt in some parts of Alaska). Plus, operation on these bands will not be allowed within one kilometer of electric transmission lines using PLC and advance notice of all planned operation to the PLC network coordinator will be required. Access to the bands will be open to all hams holding a General Class or higher license, and any mode may be used as long as it fits within the bands' very narrow bandwidths.

An effective date was not announced since additional government approvals will be required before the rules can be finalized. CQ will have more about the order and its implications in the next "MF & LF Operating" column in the July issue (the column debuts in the upcoming April issue). The complete text of the Report & Order (which is over 60 pages long) may be found at <>.