ARRL asking FCC for LF ham privileges

Jeffrey Herman jeffreyh at HAWAII.EDU
Sun Nov 8 21:32:26 EST 1998

There's been talk about amateurs getting LF privileges for years -
finally a formal petition has been submitted to the FCC. Everyone,
licensed and unlicensed, already has Title 47 CFR Part 15 low power
privileges down there but this proposal is asking that licensed hams be
able to use higher power.

I'd like to know what BA gear you folks might consider utilizing way
down there, if we get the privileges. Any LF gear you own might go
up in value if this goes through!

I've included the ARRL notice below.

73 from Hawaii,
Jeff KH6OO   (formerly KH2PZ, NH6IL, WH6AEQ, WA6QIJ from '76)

---------------------------Begin Included File-----------------------

Subject: The ARRL Letter, Vol 17, No 44


The ARRL has petitioned the FCC to create two low-frequency Amateur
Radio allocations at 136 kHz and at 160 kHz. "These allocations will
permit experimentation with equipment, antennas, and propagation
phenomena in a small segment of the radio spectrum that has not been
available to the Amateur Service for many years," the League's petition
declared. The petition was filed with the FCC October 22.

Specifically, the League has proposed permitting CW, SSB, RTTY/data, and
image emissions for amateurs in a 2.1-kHz "sliver band" from 135.7 to
137.8 kHz and in a 30-kHz segment from 160 to 190 kHz. The 135.7 to
137.8 kHz band adheres to the European Conference of Postal and
Telecommunications Administrations (CEPT) band plan.

The ARRL has proposed allowing a transmitter output in both LF segments
of 200 W PEP, but in no case greater than 2 W EIRP (effective isotropic
radiated power). The League's petition points out that poor antenna
efficiencies and ground-loss characteristics likely would keep EIRPs at
less than 1 W. The two bands would be available to General and higher

Unlicensed experimenters--some of them hams--currently operate on LF in
the US under the FCC's Part 15 rules. These limit transmitter input
power to 1 W and impose substantial restrictions on the size of the
antenna. The proposed allocations "will provide the only low-frequency
allocation for amateur use and will accommodate more flexible
experimentation than is permitted under current Part 15 regulations,"
the League's filing said.

Hams would be secondary to the Fixed and Maritime Mobile services in the
136-kHz allocation, and secondary to the Fixed Service in the 160-190
kHz band. The League said its engineering surveys suggest that hams
could operate in the two segments 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.

Calculations included with the League's filing demonstrate how
inefficient even relatively large radiators can be on LF (136 kHz is
approximately 2205 meters). For example, at 200 W TPO (transmitter power
output) and a 200 foot vertical radiator, efficiency is only in the
range of 1%, yielding up to 2 W EIRP. A more practical setup--200 W TPO
into a 100-foot vertical radiator (efficiency of 0.2%) would yield an
EIRP of between 100 and 400 mW.

Several countries throughout the world already enjoy LF allocations.
These include New Zealand, Great Britain, the Republic of Ireland, and
several European nations.

The article "Exploring 136 kHz" by Peter Dodd, G3LDO, appears in the
November 1998 issue of QST. It discusses practical equipment and an
antenna system for the allocation. Dodd also is the editor of the LF
Experimenter's Source Book (2nd ed) published by the RSGB and available
>from  the ARRL for $14. Order Item 7148. Visit ARRLWeb, for details or call, toll-free,

A special CW LF operation from the Netherlands is scheduled for November
14 at 0900 UTC at 136.5 kHz using the call sign PA2NJN (see In Brief
item, "Netherlands LF test" below). The operation will run 150 W to a
wire antenna, tethered to a kite at about 920 feet in the air.

A copy of the ARRL petition is available on ARRLWeb,

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