ARRL Again Calls for Action on Symbol Rate Limits

Commenting in response to an FCC Public Notice (DA 17-1180) the ARRL have reiterated their call to eliminate the archaic symbol rate restriction on amateur radio data modes

Introduced in 1980 the symbol rate restriction has crippled the development of innovative data modes in the United States and amateurs have been trying to get it scrapped for decades.

The ARRL Commnet

Another “noteworthy and urgent need” that might call for some regulatory involvement by the FCC, ARRL said, “relates to an outdated regulation that limits data rates in HF Amateur communications, precluding certain digital emissions that have recently proven extremely important in Amateur Radio hurricane relief efforts.” ARRL noted that the FCC has yet to act on the League’s Petition for Rule Making (RM-11708), filed in November of 2013, proposing to amend the Amateur Service rules to eliminate the symbol rate limit relative to data emissions in allocations below 29.7 MHz.

That Petition also called for establishing a 2.8-kHz maximum occupied bandwidth for data emissions in those bands. ARRL has argued that this deregulatory action is necessary to allow the use of PACTOR 4, an effective and efficient digital communication mode that has proven valuable in disaster-relief efforts. In July of 2016, the Commission released a Notice of Proposed Rule Making in WT Docket 16-239, proposing only to remove limitations on the symbol rate applicable to data emissions.

Equipment dispatched with the ‘Force of 50’ [volunteers] to Puerto Rico included data transmission equipment capable of PACTOR 4 operation, but it could not be legally used in the Hurricane Maria disaster relief effort,” ARRL noted. The League prevailed upon the FCC to grant a temporary waiver to permit use of PACTOR 4 by radio amateurs involved in the emergency response. “However, it should not have been necessary to wait more than 4 years for the underlying rulemaking proceeding to have been resolved, and it should not have been necessary to ask for a temporary waiver of a hopelessly outdated rule that limits data speeds for no useful reason.


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