ALERT: AM Under Attack - WA3VJB

Brian Carling bcarling at CFL.RR.COM
Fri Jun 20 07:46:02 EDT 2003

by Paul Courson WA3VJB

WASHINGTON ( -- On-air experimentation with so-called
High Fidelity or Enhanced Single Sideband transmissions could
be outlawed if the FCC adopts a proposed rules change requested
by two radio amateurs on opposite sides of the country.

A petition for rulemaking was sent to the FCC and accepted by
the agency May 27th. It was not immediately issued a
Rulemaking Number so it was hard to find in the public

***  However, copies now directly circulating
among amateurs reveal that the proposal calls for
what many would consider severe bandwidth limitations
on HF phone. ***

In a copy obtained for reporting on Newsline,, and
the specialty internet site, the petition asks
for a federally mandated bandwidth limit of 2.8 kilohertz for
SSB, well below the extended bandwidth needed for what has
been called enhanced audio.

One of the two hams who submitted the petition told the FCC
they are motivated by interference problems caused by
two groups of single sideband operators. These groups are
portrayed by the petitioners as, in both cases,
having cast aside traditional voluntary limits on
bandwidth of roughly three kilohertz. The petition therefore
asks that these voluntary limits be made mandatory to provide
a clear enforcement mechanism for regulators.

The petitioners, Michael Lonneke WØYR of Virginia, and
Melvin Ladisky W6FDR of California, said hams from one
of the groups come on during radio contests, and are found
tweaking their transmitters to splatter purposely to provide
elbowroom on a very crowded band. The two men characterize
the other group as those who experiment with high-fidelity
audio, apparently trying to replicate the sound of FM
Broadcast stations. and Newsline have recently reported on advisory letters
sent out by FCC Enforcement Counsel Riley Hollingsworth, K4ZDH,
who wrote to several members of the enhanced SSB group telling
them the agency had received interference complaints.
The letters did not validate nor dispute the complaints,
but warned the stations that if such complaints continued,
the unresolved friction could trigger petitions for rulemaking.
One such petition is now at hand.

A Newsline reporter spoke with Lonneke, who declined a request
to provide a copy of his petition for this report. He said he
and Ladisky hold the same views on the matter of excessive
bandwidth causing interference, and that they teamed up on
the petition to add strength to their call for regulatory
intervention. Lonneke declined further comment, and said
the petition will speak for itself if the FCC chooses to assign
it a rulemaking number and put it to public comment.

Members of the enhanced SSB group have told and
Newsline they believe their experimentation with improved audio
is totally in line with the spirit of ham radio, and that when conducted under
appropriate conditions, is justified in
its consumption of bandwidth as would be any other
spectrum-intensive activity, including contesting.

But the FCC's Hollingsworth, reacting to such comments,
disagreed, suggesting the mode of SSB was commissioned
for the amateur service as a spectrum conservation mode,
counter to the idea of high-fidelity audio and the bandwidth
it requires.

Hollingsworth has not commented on the proposed Petition,
and another FCC official declined to comment ahead of when
and if the agency assigns a Rulemaking (RM) number to the
document to officially further it for public review and comment..

The petition, while primarily expressed as a complaint against
overly broad SSB activity, also mentions the legacy mode of
AM, and said it "does not create the same problems that
the burgeoning use of so-called 'Hi-Fi Single Sideband' creates."

***   Nonetheless, the petition asks the FCC to impose a
5.6 kilohertz bandwith limitation on AM, with the restrictions
on phone transmissions to apply on all amateur HF allocations
below 28.8 megahertz.  ***

Previous regulatory proposals based on bandwidth have
failed, including Docket 20777 from the mid 1970s.
The conclusion then was that having loosely-defined
technical standards allowed the greatest range of
experimentation in ham radio, as long as such signals
are clean. Indeed, many present-day violations of
splatter, overdriven amplifiers, and poorly
administered audio lashups can already trigger
enforcement action under existing FCC rules governing
the purity of signal.
= = =

At press time the petition by W0YR and W6FDR has not been
been assigned a Rule Making number designation.
More on this story in future reports on QRZ, and on
Amateur Radio Newsline.

(ARNewsline™, W5YI,

This report is prepared for multiple internet and audio
outlets serving the amateur community.

References to other outlets are made with the permission
of those responsible.

A copy of the petition is posted at:
Classic Radio on the shortwave ham bands!

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