In a lengthy Report and Order (R&O) in a proceeding (WT Docket No. 10-119) dating back 7 years, the FCC has announced rule changes affecting the General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS), the Family Radio Service (FRS), the Citizens Band Radio Service (CBRS or “CB”), as well as other applications that fall under the FCC’s Part 95 Personal Radio Services (PRS) rules and regulations. Part 95 devices typically are low-power units that communicate over shared spectrum and, with some exceptions, do not require an individual user license from the FCC. As the R&O explains, common examples of PRS devices include “walkie-talkies;” radio-control cars, boats, and planes; hearing assistance devices; CB radios; medical implant devices; and Personal Locator Beacons.
It’s been a long time coming, but the Amateur Service will get two new bands in the near future. The FCC on March 28 adopted rules that will allow secondary Amateur Radio access to 472-479 kHz (630 meters) and to 135.7-137.8 kHz (2,200 meters), with minor conditions. The FCC Report and Order (R&O) spells out the details. It allocates 472-479 kHz to the Amateur Service on a secondary basis and amends Part 97 to provide for Amateur Service use of that band as well as of the previously allocated 135.7-137.8 kHz band. The R&O also amends Part 80 rules to authorize radio buoy operations in the 1900-2000 kHz band under a ship station license. Just when the new Part 97 rules will go into effect is difficult to determine just yet; more on that below.
Telecommunication regulators in The Netherlands have scaled back considerably the liberal 60-meter privileges announced for radio amateurs in that country just days after the conclusion of World Radiocommunication Conference 2015 (WRC-15). Since December 2015, amateurs in The Netherlands have had access to a 100-kHz wide amateur band at 5 MHz, with a maximum power of 100 W.
Radio amateurs in Cuba are scrutinizing and debating the details of new Amateur Radio regulations for the island nation. The Cuban Ministry of Communications adopted the new regulatory scheme on February 28. International Amateur Radio Union Region 2 (IARU-R2) posted the new Amateur Radio Service regulations (in Spanish) as a PDF.
Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) reports it has met a major milestone and now is “one giant step” closer to flying its new interoperable radio system to the International Space Station. Eventual plans call for installing a new JVC Kenwood TM-D710GA-based radio system on the station as part of an overall approach that will allow greater interoperability between the Columbus module and the Russian Service Module.
ARRL is recommending that Amateur Radio be specifically excluded from a California statute prohibiting the use of “wireless communication devices” while driving. ARRL Southwestern Division Vice Director Marty Woll, N6VI, is taking point on the effort to revise the statute, known by its legislative bill number AB 1785. It was signed into law last September, and it took effect on January 1, amending §23123.5 of the state’s Vehicle Code.
Sacramento Valley ARES Section Emergency Coordinator Greg Kruckewitt, KG6SJT, reports that Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES®) volunteers are now actively involved in supporting communication for the evacuation and sheltering of nearly 200,000 people living below the damaged Oroville Dam in rural California. The dam, on the Feather River east of Oroville, is the tallest in the US. Following a period of heavy rain, a section of the earthfill-embankment dam’s spillway eroded, and authorities issued an evacuation order for residents living below the dam, in case it should fail. Crews have been attempting to fill the eroded area with rock transported by helicopter.
The High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP) in Gakona, Alaska, will soon undertake its first scientific research campaigns since the facility was taken over by the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) Geophysical Institute 18 months ago. Among the investigators is UAF Researcher Chris Fallen, KL3WX, who will be working under a National Science Foundation grant, “RAPID: Spatiotemporal Evolution of Radio-Induced Aurora.” Fallen says the HAARP transmissions will take place within the facility’s transmitter tuning range of 2.7 to 10 MHz and should be audible outside of Alaska and may even produce visible effects within the state.
The International Amateur Radio Union Region 1 (IARU-R1) Monitoring System (IARUMS) newsletter reports a mysterious “foghorn” — a Chinese over-the-horizon (OTH) burst radar — is operating in Amateur Radio bands.
“We observed the mysterious foghorn on 7, 10, and 14 MHz,” the newsletter recounted. “This is a Chinese OTH radar, which is often jumping, and sounding like a foghorn.” The signal is frequency modulation on pulse (FMOP) with 66.66 sweeps-per-second bursts.
The ARRL Board of Directors has unanimously adopted five legislative objectives for the 115th US Congress. The Board took the action when it met in Connecticut January 20-21. ARRL President Rick Roderick, K5UR, chaired the session.
The first objective is to seek early congressional passage of the Amateur Radio Parity Act of 2017, H.R. 555 and of any Senate companion bill that might be introduced. H.R. 555 cleared the House on January 23. The Board was told that specific instructions to the FCC on implementation of the bill would be included in the report language from Congress.