Letter 8/2016

FCC PROPOSES RULE CHANGE:
The FCC has proposed to revise the Amateur Service Part 97 rules in
response to the ARRL’s so-called “Symbol Rate” Petition for Rule
Making (RM-11708), filed in late 2013, and it has invited comments on
its recommended changes. The Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) in
WT Docket 16-239, released on July 28, had been making the rounds at
the FCC since May. ARRL had asked the FCC to change the Part 97 rules
to delete the symbol rate limits in §97.307(f) and replace it with a
maximum bandwidth for data emissions of 2.8 kHz on amateur frequencies
below 29.7 MHz.

“[W]e believe that the public interest may be served by revising the
Amateur Service rules to eliminate the current baud rate limitations
for data emissions, consistent with ARRL’s Petition, to allow Amateur
Service licensees to use modern digital emissions, thereby furthering
the purposes of the Amateur Service and enhancing the usefulness of the
service,” the FCC said in its NPRM.

“We do not, however, propose a bandwidth limitation for data
emissions in the MF and HF bands to replace the baud rate limitations,"
the NPRM concluded, "because the rules’ current approach for limiting
bandwidth use by amateur stations using one of the specified digital
codes to encode the signal being transmitted appears sufficient to
ensure that general access to the band by licensees in the Amateur
Service does not become unduly impaired.”

Under the current rules, “specified digital codes” in Part 97 may
be used with a symbol rate that does not exceed 300 baud for
frequencies below 28 MHz, with the exception of 60 meters, and 1200
baud in the 10 meter band. The baud rate limits were adopted in 1980,
when the FCC amended Part 97 to specify ASCII as a permissible digital
code.

Comments in the proceeding will be due 60 days after the date that the
NPRM appears in the Federal Register.

ARRL BOARD LOOKS AT NEW ENTRY LEVEL LICENSE:
The ARRL Board of Directors has established an ad hoc committee, to
look into the current FCC licensing structure and determine if the
current levels of licensing are adequate or if a new entry level
license class should be established.

As the Novice Class examination was discontinued in 2000 and the Morse
Code requirement was removed from all licenses a few years later, the
Technician Class license became the new entry point for new Hams, but
there was a considerable increase in difficulty for the new entry
point, and new licensees were then given extensive privileges not
appropriate for all newcomers. We now have more than 15 years of
experience with the current FCC Technician Class license as that entry
point but we need to improve upon our efforts to attract newcomers to
Amateur Radio and pass along the tradition of emergency communications
support, developing interest in hands-on projects, and improving on
science, technology, engineering, and mathematics educations.

The Committee, headed by New England Division Director Tom Frenaye,
K1KI, will be seeking input from the Ham Radio community.

CENTENNIAL QSL CARDS OUT FOR DELIVERY:
The long awaited ARRL Centennial QSL Cards have been sent to the Call
Area Bureaus. Pallets carrying over 850,000 QSL Cards were sent in
lots to the various QSL bureaus. To receive your QSL cards, contact
the QSL Bureau in your area for mailing and requesting instructions.

PACIFIC NORTHWEST DX CONVENTION:
Join us August 5-7, 2016 for the 61st annual Pacific Northwest DX
Convention located at Monarch Hotel and Conference Center, 12566 SE
93rd Ave (I-205 at Exit 14) Clackamas, OR 97105 1-800-492-8700 - Hosted
by the Willamette Valley DX Club. Lots of good activities and
presentations and fun for all.

DOD AND MARS PREPARE FOR MAJOR EXERCISE:
On the heels of Cascadia Rising 2016, US Department of Defense (DOD)
Military Auxiliary Radio Service (MARS) operators in the US, Germany,
and Japan, will take part in an interoperability communications
exercise in August. The exercise will take place on Monday, August 15,
from 1200 UTC to 2359 UTC.
The focus of the exercise is “to train during a simulated
communications-constrained environment using radio-only communication
capabilities,” MARS said. Throughout the exercise, MARS operators
will reach out and attempt connect with Amateur Radio operators at the
local and regional levels using HF, VHF, and UHF. For the purposes of
this exercise, the use of the 60 meter interoperability channels —
dial frequencies 5330.5 and 5346.5 kHz — are authorized and
encouraged. Other bands will be coordinated by MARS members at the
local/regional level with their ARES/RACES/club counterparts.

The exercise is tied in with a larger DOD exercise, which will include
participation by active duty forces.

AMATEUR RADIO PARITY ACT:
The full House Energy and Commerce Committee at a markup session on
July 13 unanimously adopted a substitute bill in the form of an
amendment to the Amateur Radio Parity Act (H.R. 1301). The next step
is for a full vote in the House of Representatives, in September. Once
the Bill passes the House, it will be sent on to the Senate, at which
time it will be important for our membership to contact the individual
Senators, encouraging them to vote for the Bill. More information will
be sent out to the membership, the closer we get to the vote.

SUMMER ACTIVITIES:
Summertime is a great time to do preventive maintenance on our antenna
systems. Unfortunately, each year we hear of accidents and sometimes
deaths, of our members while doing antenna work. Please be careful and
make ‘safety’ your number one task. Remember, plan ahead and
don’t work alone. The best antenna has no value, if there is no one
around to use it.

QUESTIONS:
If you have any questions about ARRL activities, please do no hesitate
to contact our Director and Vice Director. We welcome your comments
and questions.
73 and good Hamming

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ARRL Northwestern Division
Director: James D Pace, K7CEX
k7cex@arrl.org

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