SPECTRUM OPPORTUNITIES

The 135.7-137.8 (2200 metre) Amateur Band

An exact count is hard to find, but at the present time, somewhere between 25 and 35 countries have agreed to allow their amateurs to communicate in the band 135.7-137.8 kHz.  Canada and the USA are among the countries which have turned down a request for a domestic allocation. In Canada, Industry Canada has given approval for a few amateurs to experiment within the band, subject to rather tight restrictions. The main purpose of the experimental operation is to study propagation at these frequencies, and a secondary purpose is to determine if amateurs cause any interference to other users of the band.

A world wide allocation of the band 135.7 - 137.8 kHz to Amateur Radio was proposed by Canada in 2003 but was not approved  because some countries were worried about possible interference to existing spectrum users. Canada did succeed however in getting the item placed on the Agenda for the next Conference in 2007, where it appears as Agenda item 1.15 .

In preparation for the conference, studies are underway at the ITU in Geneva to settle the question of possible interference. The 135 kHz studies have been assigned to Working Party 8A of Study Group 8 which is responsible for the Amateur and Mobile services. At meetings in September 2004, The IARU introduced a proposal that the band be approved, and explaining why interference was not likely. Other Working Parties, representing the fixed and radiolocation services, have been asked to comment. One encouraging result was that spokespersons for CEPT representing most European countries, stated that they fully support the IARU proposal.

RAC has decided to stay with the same proposal put forward to WRC-03, and to participate in the studies. This position has been introduced at a meeting with  Industry Canada, and the various interested parties in Canada have begun to discuss the issue once again. It is likely that Canada will once again support the proposal at the WRC if the studies show that the danger of interference in Canada is acceptable.

On the other hand, it is unlikely that the US will actively support the proposal, since the FCC has already decided that the potential for interference in the USA is not acceptable. This decision was reached after the electrical utilities industry lobbied the FCC against the proposal.

A first step towards gaining a favourable decision at WRC 2007, will be to seek support in CITEL from a majority of countries in our Region (The Americas).  CITEL is the forum where countries in our Region attempt to get together to prepare a united front to take to the WRC on issues of importance.  In 2003, CITEL was supportive of the 135 kHz proposal, and Canada has once again put the item on the table for discussion.   

A 5 MHz (60 Metre) amateur band

Several countries, including Canada, have permitted very limited experimental operation by a few amateurs at 60 metres. Australia is currently seeking approval for an allocation in that country.

However, there is no item on the 2007 agenda for establishment of a world wide amateur band at 60 metres, although the review of allocations from 4-10 MHz (Agenda item 1.13) does not exclude the possibility of a 60 metre allocation. Given the desire of HF Broadcasting for between 200 and 850 kHz of new spectrum in this region, all of which would have to be obtained through the sacrifice of spectrum by other users (primarily the Fixed and Mobile services), it does not seem that there could be much hope for a new amateur band in  in the vicinity of 5 MHz.

A 500 kHz (600 Metre) amateur band

As is the case for 60 metres,  there is no item on the WRC 07 agenda for a world wide allocation to the amateur service at 600 metres  although the band which used to be used for emergency communications in case of disasters, has been largely vacated. The ARRL is proposing that a few amateurs be granted experimental licences for operation at several fixed frequencies in the band. At present RAC has not requested an allocation from Industry Canada, and no experimental licences have been granted.