An overview of IARU R1 interim meeting proposals

The IARU R1 interim meeting is being held in Vienna, Austria, on April 27 and 28. This post is an overview of the proposals that will be presented during this meeting, from the point of view of the usual topics that I treat in this blog.

The proposals can be found in the conference documents. There are a total of 64 documents for the meeting, so a review of all of them or an in-depth read would be a huge work. I have taken a brief look at all the papers and selected those that I think to be more interesting. For these, I do a brief summary and include my technical opinion about them. Hopefully this will be useful to some readers of this blog, and help them spot what documents could be more interesting to read in detail.

HF

VIE19 C4-002 IARU – bandplanning 15m satellites, presented by Hans Blondeel PB2T, IARU Satellite Advisor, addresses the problem that there is no explicit allocation for Amateur satellites in the 15m bandplans. Recently, there have been coordination requests for satellites having a linear transponder with an uplink in the 15m band: HFSAT in 2016 and CAS-5A in 2018. These requests have been approved with the note “It is understood that terrestrial amateur stations will access the transponders in the frequency bands 21.385-21.415 MHz”, but in the long run it would be good to have Amateur satellites explicitly considered in the 15m bandplans. The proposal mentions three options to accommodate Amateur satellites in the 15m band.

VIE19 C4-011 OeVSV – Extensions of data segments on HF bands addresses the need to enlarge the segments allocated to digital modes, in view of the ever increasing use of these.

VIE19 C4-012 USKA – 30m bandplan is an interesting one. It proposes to allow digital modes with bandwidths up to 2700Hz in the 30m band. Currently, the maximum bandwidth (for any modes) in the 30m band is limited to 500Hz (except during emergencies or for stations in Africa south of the equator during daylight, where SSB voice can also be used).

This proposal is clearly biased towards data modems used for emergency communications, and mentions VARA, Winmor and PACTOR as examples. These perform better (achieve faster data rates) in 2700Hz than in 500Hz. The proposal explicitly mentions that SSB voice should continue to be disallowed.

This seems rather unfair. For most of the important points regarding bandplanning, a 2700Hz mode is the same, regardless of whether it is digital data or SSB voice. Moreover, the proposal makes no mention of digital voice modes such as FreeDV, which are too wide to fit into 500Hz, but use less than 2700Hz. Additionally, I guess that the potential number of users of SSB voice in 30m would be much greater than those of digital modes with more than 500Hz of bandwidth. One could start arguing about the reasons of the limitation to 500Hz in the 30m band, but in my opinion if we open up the door for wider modes, we should open it for all modes, including SSB voice. It will be interesting to see how this proposal fares.

VIE19 C4-014 IRA – Costas Loop Prize proposes the creation of a prize “to award innovative achievements of radio amateurs in developing efficient modulation and spectrum usage techniques.” It seems that such a prize could have either a lot or very little potential in promoting innovation and experimentation in Amateur radio. I am eager to see how this develops.

VIE19 C4-016 RSGB – HF Mode Defintions attempts to clarify the classification of modes used in HF by a division into CW, digital (understood as digital data), and phone (including SSB, AM, FM and digital voice), with the goal of using this division in bandplanning (and also in contests and awards). However, I am concerned that this classification completely leaves out analogue image modes such as SSTV (and Hellschreiber, which is a bit weird to define). Also, digital image modes (digital SSTV) would fall into “digital” (since they are not voice). Regarding bandplanning, this makes me wonder what is special about “digital voice” to make it different from “digital data”. I could understand this sort of difference being made for contests and awards, but probably one should not use the same criteria for bandplanning

VHF/UHF/MW

VIE19 C5-002 IRTS – 40 and 60 MHz bandplans proposes the adoption of bandplans developed by IRTS, the Irish national society, for the 40MHz and 60MHz bands. These two bands are allocated only in Ireland and a few other European countries have received experimental permissions for a limited number of beacons. I think this is a step forward in the promotion of the lower VHF spectrum.

VIE19 C5-011 G3VZV Satellite Coordinator’s Report, presented by Graham Shirville G3VZV is a good overview of current Amateur satellite activities. It mentions the problems with uncoordinated satellites and satellites not publishing their telemetry details:

Of these, some twenty, although appearing to be operating in the amateur satellite service, have never requested frequency coordination from the IARU. They do not make their telemetry details publicly available and this is in contravention of the Radio Regs. Additionally, there are another six missions which, although they have gone through the IARU frequency coordination process have also not released their telemetry details.

VIE19 C5-012 OEVSV – 2400 MHz satellite bandplanning proposes to move the current 2400-2402MHz narrowband segment to avoid interference to QO-100. Currently, 2400-2402MHz is allocated as the narrowband segment in the 13cm band, but only for those countries where 2320-2322MHz is not available. This is an important observation, because 2400-2450MHz is allocated to the Amateur satellite service only. There are two exceptions to this: the 2400-2402MHz narrowband segment, created because there are countries that have no spectrum below 2400MHz, and 2427-2443MHz, which can be used for ATV with care not to interfere the Amateur satellite service. The proposal by OEVSV mentions that because of QO-100, the number of users with transmitters for 2400MHz will grow, and proposes to move the narrowband segment to 2401MHz to avoid interference to QO-100.

However, I think that there are two problems with this proposal. First, moving the narrowband segment to 2401MHz only prevents interference to the QO-100 NB transponder, which has an uplink at 2400.050-2400.300MHz (although the passband is really much wider than this). The QO-100 WB transponder has an uplink at 2401.5 – 2409.5MHz so potentially it could suffer heavy intereference if there are terrestrial users with high power in a narrowband segment at 2401MHz.

Also, the proposal doesn’t stress the fact that the 2400-2402MHz allocation is only for countries where 2320-2322MHz is not available. I think that we should stress that it is very important that, despite the growing number of 2.4GHz transmitters, 2320-2322MHz continues to be used as the narrowband segment in countries where this segment is available.

VIE19 C5-015 OEVSV – LORA APRS 433 MHz proposes to allocate 433.775MHz (node to gateway) and 433.900MHz (gateway to node), each with a bandwidth of 125kHz, for APRS over LORA. I don’t think that this is a good idea. While I would love to see allocations for wideband modes in the 70cm band (as the two German 200kHz slots that I mentioned in my post about NPR), I don’t think it is a good idea to start off by giving spectrum to a single mode, such as LORA. Also, I think that this proposal is unreasonable. Using a dedicated allocation for a spread spectrum of 125kHz for transmitting small APRS messages is a waste of spectrum. Also, I find it unreasonable to require two separate frecuencies for gateway to node and node to gateway, given that the current AX.25 APRS networks use a single frequency. Also, note that giving spectrum to a particular mode, such as LORA, conflicts with proposal C5-024 detailed below.

VIE19 C5-018 DARC – WB usage in 6m Band proposes to study the allocation of a portion of the 6m band for wideband (300kHz to 500kHz) modes. I think this is a huge step forward in promoting experimentation in the lower VHF bands. Currently there is good activity in RB-DATV in the 6m and 146MHz bands in the UK (see C5 INFO1 listed below), and with this kind of proposals we could see an increased and interesting use of these bands in Europe.

VIE19 C5-024 RSGB – Digital Principles contains some inspired recommendations regarding digital modes, such as maintaining “mode neutrality” (not allocating frequencies to specific digital modes in bandplans) and relaxing bandwidth restrictions.

VIE19 C5-025 RSGB – MW Bands is a summary about immediate threats to Amateur microwave spectrum, including the Galileo E6 band (which overlaps the 1.2GHz Amateur band) and spectrum auctions for telecommunications that affect several microwave bands. Definitely, worth a read.

VIE19 C5-028 RSGB – Max BW above 1 GHz proposes to eliminate all maximum bandwidth notes for bands above 1GHz. While it is clear that there is plenty of spectrum for wideband modes in the bands above 1GHz and that listing, for instance, 2700Hz as maximum bandwidth in the segment intended for SSB can seem to be a good practice, the proposal argues that some national regulators have taken these maximum bandwidth notes as hard rules rather than recommendations, and that this is causing some problems.

VIE19 C5-029 URE – Amateur Satellites is my proposal about Amateur satellites transmitting without IARU frequency coordination and/or using protocols with no publicly available specifications. I have talked more about this proposal in this post.

VIE19 C5-036 DARC – 9 cm bandplan proposes to ammend the 9cm bandplan to reflect current SSB usage more accurately.

VIE19 C5 INFO1 RSGB – Innovation-Bands+Activities is a summary about the experimentation being done in the additional spectrum available in the UK. I think this report serves to motivate other national societies to promote experimental usage in their available spectrum and to try to obtain additional spectrum for experimentation.

EMC

VIE19 C7-005 G3BJ – WPT, presented by Don Beattie G3BJ, is a long technical paper about Wireless Power Transfer, and its potential harm to Amateur radio. I haven’t read it yet, but it is surely interesting.

VIE19 C7-007 VERON – Noise Floor Measurements and VIE19 C7-008 VERON – Noise Floor Measurements Issues are technical papers about an HF noise measurement campaign in the Netherlands.

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