136 kHz Band Would Mark First LF Allocation for Hams
The ARRL asked the FCC for two LF allocations in October 1998--135.7 to 137.8 kHz and 160 to 190 kHz. The petition had languished at the FCC until this month, apparently in part because of concerns expressed over the 160 to 190 kHz request. Unlicensed experimenters--some of them hams--currently operate on LF in the US under the FCC's Part 15 rules.
"This action proposes changes that would enhance the ability of amateur radio operators to conduct technical experiments, including propagation and antenna design experiments, in the 'low frequency' (LF) range of the radio spectrum," the FCC said in its Public Notice.
The 135.7 to 137.8 kHz band that the FCC appears willing to grant adheres to the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (CEPT) band plan. Several countries in Europe and elsewhere already have 136-kHz amateur allocations. The first amateur transatlantic contact on the band was recorded in February 2001. The ARRL has proposed allowing General and higher-class amateurs to operate a transmitter at up to 200 W PEP output, but in no case greater than 2 W EIRP (effective isotropic radiated power).
Hams would be secondary to the Fixed and Maritime Mobile services in the 136-kHz allocation. The League said its engineering surveys suggest that hams could operate without causing problems to power line carrier (PLC) systems already active in that vicinity or to government assignments. Unallocated Part 15 PLC systems are used by electric utilities to send control signals, data and voice.