FCC Authorizes 2 New Ham Bands!

630 Meter Ham BandThe American Radio Relay League is reporting that the FCC has adopted rules allowing Amateur Radio access to the 630 and the 2,200 meter bands, with minor conditions. According to a Report and Order released on March 29, 2017, the new rules become effective 30 days following publication in The Federal Register.

The new frequency allocations consist of the new 630 meter band using frequencies of 472 kHz. through 479 kHz. (just below the AM broadcast band) and the new 2,200 meter band using frequencies of 135.7 kHz and 137.8 kHz.  These new bands would be available to General class and higher licensees with permissible modes including CW, RTTY, data, phone, and image.

In a news release ARRL CEO Tom Gallagher, NY2RF, calls this “a big win for the Amateur community and the ARRL.”

There are a few limitations on these new ham bands. Firstly, amateurs operating on 472-479 kHz would be permitted a maximum equivalent isotropically radiated power (EIRP) of 5 W, except in parts of Alaska within 800 kilometers (approximately 496 miles) of Russia, where the maximum would be 1 W EIRP. All U.S. amateurs operating in the 135.7-137.8 kHz band could run up to 1 W EIRP. Note that EIRP uses absolute antenna gain in its calculation. Given the extremely long wavelengths involved and the relatively small amounts of gain available from antenna compromises, one would assume that the total power output from one’s radio would be much higher than the actual EIRP achieved.

The FCC says the Amateur Radio service rules it has adopted for 630 meters and 2,200 meters allow “for co-existence with Power Line Carrier (PLC) systems that use these bands.” Utilities have opposed Amateur Radio use of the MF and LF spectrum, fearing interference to unlicensed Part 15 PLC systems used to manage the power grid. As such, the FCC is requiring a 1-kilometer separation distance between radio amateurs using the two new bands and electric power transmission lines with PLC systems on those bands. Amateur Radio operators will have to notify UTC of station location prior to commencing operations.

Additional restrictions include a 60-meter (approximately 197 feet) above-ground-level (AGL) height limit on transmitting antennas using both of these new bands.

More details about these two new ham bands will be available soon on the ARRL website at www.ARRL.org.