As we reported here last March, two new ham bands were recently authorized by the FCC here in the United States. Since then, we have been waiting for publication of the rules in the Federal Register, and that time has finally come.
Stations cannot immediately start transmitting between 472 kHz. through 479 kHz or between 135.7 kHz and 137.8 kHz. First of all, the soonest one can transmit is 30 days after the aforementioned publication which was dated September 15, 2017. Additionally, ALL amateurs wishing to use these new Low Frequency (LF) and Medium Frequency (MF) bands must notify the Utilities Technology Council (UTC) that they plan to do so. According to the American Radio Relay League (ARRL), if the UTC does not respond within 30 days, [licensed hams] may commence operation.
You can notify the UTC via the following website: https://utc.org/plc-database-amateur-notification-process
If the UTC does not object to your use of these new frequencies from your specified antenna location within 30 days, then you may commence operation. So, the needed 30-day waiting period after publication in the Federal Register will run concurrently with that same period that one must wait to hear from the Utilities Technology Council. So, assuming one notified the UTC on September 15, 2017, and they receive no objections from them, then it’s safe to say that the earliest we can expect to use these new bands would be Sunday, October 15, 2017. It is not known whether the UTC will notify hams saying that they can operate on those bands. It will most likely be a “no news is good news” type of situation.
According to the ARRL, The FCC Part 97 rules that will apply to these new bands are: Part 97.3, 97.15(c), 97.301(b) through (d), 97.303(g), 97.305(c), and 97.313(k) and (l), which do not require OMB approval.
In a nutshell, here are a few requirements and restrictions for 630 meters and 2,200 meters:
1) You cannot operate portable or mobile! You may only transmit from a fixed antenna whose coordinates are registered and approved by the Utilities Technology Council (UTC). If you plan to transmit from more than one location, you must first notify the UTC of each specific antenna location. If a location is objected to, then you may not transmit from said location.
2) Only General and above licensees may transmit on 630 meters and 2,200 meters.
3) On 2,200 meters, the maximum Equivalent Isotropically Radiated Power (EIRP) is 1 watt with a maximum transmitter Peak Envelope Power of 1,500 watts allowed.
4) On 630 meters, the the maximum Equivalent Isotropically Radiated Power (EIRP) is 5 watts with a maximum transmitter Peak Envelope Power of 500 watts allowed (except in parts of Alaska within 800 kilometers (approximately 496 miles) of Russia, where the maximum is 1 watt EIRP) still with a maximum transmitter Peak Envelope Power of 500 watts allowed.
EIRP refers to the effective power output when antenna gain is factored in. Given the very long wavelengths on these bands, most antennas will be very inefficient and will thus have negative gain. So, most hams will most likely be able to transmit a PEP of 100 watts or maybe more while remaining well below the EIRP limits of 1 watt and 5 watts on 2,200 meters are 630 meters respectively.
5) Maximum antenna height is 60 meters (about 196 feet) above ground.
Most folks will not come close to putting an antenna up this high.
6) Emission Types Allowed: CW (international Morse code telegraphy), RTTY (narrow-band direct-printing telegraphy), data, phone, and image emissions.
The FCC’s allowance of telephony (aka: phone or SSB voice) is surprising given the narrow bandwidth of both of these bands, especially 2,200 meters. In their Report and Order dated September 15, 2017, the FCC says, “These emission types provide amateur operators with maximum flexibility, and we find that additional restrictions would needlessly hinder experimentation.” This is a commendable stance on the part of the FCC, and experimentation is indeed what will be required in order to squeeze an analog voice transmission into 2.1 kHz. of spectrum on 2,200 meters.
7) We must not cause harmful interference to, and must accept interference from, stations authorized by the United States Government in the fixed and maritime mobile services and stations authorized by other nations in the fixed, maritime mobile, and radionavigation services.
8) We may not communicate with holders of experimental licenses on these frequencies, and they may not communicate with us. According to the FCC, “Amateur operations in these bands currently authorized under experimental licenses should transition their operations in accordance with the adopted rules and not circumvent such rules by use of experimental licenses.”
9) Automatically controlled stations are permitted on these new bands!
For more details, you can view the FCC’s Report and Order pertaining to this article by clicking here.
And to view the latest edition of Part 97 Rules, you can visit the Electronic Code of Federal Regulations Website for Part 97.
Good luck on our newest amateur radio bands!