Thursday, March 5, 2015

Bandplans and Reasonable Accommodation

I try to not wade in to controversial issues, but there are a couple of topics floating around in the amateur radio world that all hams should be aware of and then, if so moved, weigh in with their opinions.

The first is the ARRL's request for comments on proposed bandplan changes.  I won't go into detail here as the information is on ARRL's website at this link, but here's the summary:
"The ARRL HF Band Planning Committee requests your input on proposed changes to the voluntary band plans for several HF bands and two suggestions for related changes in the FCC Rules. Band plans do not have the force of law but are voluntary guidelines intended to improve operating effectiveness and enjoyment."
One of the proposed changes that caught my eye is placement of "wide" (>500 Hz bandwidth) data modes from 7115 kHz to 7125 kHz.  This overlays a popular part of the old 40 meter Novice band where there is still a lot of slow speed CW.  I believe a number of small monoband QRP rigs were offered with this frequency range and interference from these wide modes would likely make them essentially unusable.

If this or any of the other proposed changes concern you and you haven't already submitted your comments, you might want to take a few minutes and complete the survey.  It's open until April 19.

The second is introduction of the Amateur Radio Parity Act of 2015 in the U.S. Congress.  This bill, if passed into law, would "direct the FCC to extend its rules relating to reasonable accommodation of Amateur Service communications to private land use restrictions."

Many hams, myself included, have been or will be caught up in HOA antenna restrictions where they live and this bill would provide some relief.  I personally have mixed feelings about it.  While I certainly would like to use something other than a stealth antenna at my future retirement home, I also know that I along with others purchased into a community knowing full well about the restrictions.  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but I wouldn't be particularly pleased to see a tribander on a 35' tower go up next door to me.  I've heard all of the past arguments about how difficult it is to find a home not covered by HOA covenants, but after the fact invalidation of a private contract that I and others signed just isn't right.

Whichever side of the issue your thoughts lie, you'll want to make your voice heard.