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FCC Denies RM-11392

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio News' started by N5RFX, May 8, 2008.

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  1. N5RFX

    N5RFX Ham Member QRZ Page

    The FCC denies the Petition for Rule Making. RM-11392. The FCC comments can be read at

    In its ruling the FCC states:
    Mark N5RFX
  2. KQ6XA

    KQ6XA Ham Member QRZ Page

    Digital Stone Age averted

    As indicated by Mark N5RFX, on Wednesday 07 May 2008, FCC denied the infamous Digital Stone Age Petition.

    The petition, seeking to abolish various digital data communications methods that are in everyday use by the global ham community, threatened to turn back the clock on digital innovation in the USA Amateur Radio Service. It would have taken away amateur license privileges from General, Advanced, and Amateur Extra operators. A bulletin about this petition was sent out in late December 2007, and a surprisingly large number of ham operators mobilized to respond to FCC during the very short time allowed.

    FCC "received 650 comments and reply comments, most of which opposed" the RM-11392 submitted by petitioner Mark Miller N5RFX.

    FCC did not ignore those hundreds of hams. Yes, FCC fulfilled their basic responsibility to be accountable to the public and they covered the fine details of the issues at stake; but they did a lot more... they used this opportunity to make statements pointing the Amateur Radio Service back on track toward a philosophy of regulation that encourages digital advancement. Thankfully, for the future of ham radio, FCC was not persuaded to pursue the objectives of Mr. Miller's petition, by etching in stone the obsolete remnants of past technologies.

    In FCC's official consideration statements, FCC specifically didn't go for a finite limit of bandwidth for HF digital data emissions for the amateur radio service. FCC instead prefers for now to rely upon existing rules, and to further encourage amateur radio operators to advance the radio art. FCC said that imposition of such limits might impede experimentation and technological innovation.

    Importantly, FCC also says that it does not believe that it is in the public interest to prohibit communications technology that is already in current use in the Amateur Radio Service.

    Mr. Miller commented today:
    "I am disappointed that the FCC did not elaborate on the purpose of Section 97.307(f) which limits specified RTTY or data emissions to a symbol rate not to exceed 300 bauds (in the 80 to 12 meter bands) or 1200 bauds (in the 10 meter band); or for frequency-shift keying (FSK), to a maximum frequency shift of 1 kilohertz between mark and space. Why is that there?
    The FCC has spoken and the status quo prevails."

    But, this FCC order means so much more than simply affirmation of the status quo. It gives us a rare window of observation into FCC's internal trends toward support for modernization and progress for the Amateur Radio Service. It more significantly shows the willingness of the FCC to open the door to change in several areas toward digital advancement and away from prior technologically adverse, artificial, or archaic constraints.

    It now seems quite clear from FCC's balanced statements in the petition denial order, that the main reason the 300 baud limit still exists, is as a remnant of past history that serves no useful purpose in today's digital communications technology. It is common in USA for antiquated "blue laws" to continue on the books, while being effectively rendered useless or obsolete due to changes in society or advancements in technology.

    I salute Mark for his valiant efforts pursuing what he believed in. As a leader of the charge opposing this petition, and on behalf of the majority of the greater amateur radio community who railed against it, I thank you for helping to clarify a portion of regulatory direction. An unintended result of it, is that we may possibly better project the possible outcome of future FCC rulemaking opportunities, within perhaps a wider venue, to include total abolition of antiquated baud limits altogether. Indeed, baud limit is now considered not simply superfluous, but counterproductive to one of the primary purposes of USA's Amateur Radio Service, advancement of the radio art.

    It looks like US hams won't be frozen, after all, in the digital stone age with only the stone knives and bear skins of ancient digital communications tools :)

    73--- Bonnie Crystal KQ6XA

    For greater understanding of the depth and meaning, it is advisable to read the entire FCC document, but, here are a few of the key paragraphs of FCC's order denying the petition.

    Adopted: May 6, 2008 Released: May 7, 2008

    "In this Order, we address a petition for rulemaking filed by Mark Miller (Miller), requesting amendment of the Commission's Amateur Radio Service rules to revise the operating privileges for amateur radio service stations that transmit data emission types. Specifically, the Petition requests that Sections 97.3, 97.221, 97.305, and 97.307 of the Commission's Rules be amended to revise various definitions and frequency privileges. Based upon the record before us, we deny the Petition."

    "On March 27, 2007, Miller requested that the Commission amend various rules that relate to use of amateur service spectrum by stations transmitting data and other narrow bandwidth emissions.
    Specifically, the petition requests that the Commission

    (1) amend the definition of data in Section 97.3(c)(2) to delete language added in the Commission's 2006 Omnibus Report and Order,

    (2) amend Section 97.221 to limit the subbands on which unattended operation of automatically controlled digital stations is permitted, and (3) amend Sections 97.305 and 97.307 to establish maximum necessary bandwidths for radioteletype (RTTY) and data emissions in the amateur high frequency (HF) bands."


    "As Miller notes, adoption of these proposed changes would result in 'a small number of wider bandwidth modes,' including Pactor III, not being authorized. In support of these requests, the petition states that 'emissions have crept into the narrowband RTTY/Data subbands in the 80 through 10-meter bands that are not appropriate for the RTTY/Data subbands,' and that 'stations under automatic control have taken advantage of loopholes created by terminology in the commission's rules'. We received over 650 comments and reply comments, most of which oppose the petition."


    "We are not persuaded that the petitioner has presented sufficient reason to justify the requested amendment. The present rules allow amateur stations to transmit PSK data emissions subject to the conditions that the station transmission shall occupy no more bandwidth than necessary for the information rate and emission type being transmitted, and that emissions resulting from modulation must be confined to the band or segment available to the control operator. We believe that these rules provide amateur service licensees the flexibility to develop new technologies within the spectrum authorized for the various classes of licensees, while protecting other users of the spectrum from harmful interference. We also believe that imposing a maximum bandwidth limitation on data emissions would result in a loss of flexibility to develop and improve technologies as licensees' operating interests change, new technologies are incorporated, and frequency bands are reallocated. Additionally, we believe that amending the amateur service rules to limit the ability of amateur stations to experiment with various communications technologies or otherwise impeding their ability to advance the radio art would be inconsistent with the definition and purpose of the amateur service. Moreover, we do not believe that changing the rules to prohibit a communications technology currently in use is in the public interest."


    "Based on the record before us, we conclude that Miller has not set forth sufficient reasons for the Commission to propose to delete the 2006 addition to the definition of data, amend the rules to prohibit
    automatically controlled stations from transmitting on frequency segments other than those specified in Section 97.221(b), or replace the symbol rate limits in Section 97.307(f) with bandwidth limitations. Consequently, we deny the Petition."
    " IT IS ORDERED that, pursuant to Section 1.407 of the Commission's Rules, 47 C.F.R. § 1.407, the Petition for Rule Making submitted by Mark Miller on March 27, 2007, RM-11392, IS DENIED."

    Last edited: May 9, 2008
  3. KI6NNO

    KI6NNO Ham Member QRZ Page

    Not thrilled, but I have to agree with them overall.

    Thanks for posting this and for bringing the petition to the FCC. While it seems that Pactor III is here to stay - at least for a while, the FCC did agree with you in part in your petition and they did leave the door open for you or others to address the bandwidth and emissions issues should future petitioners provide evidence that is not speculative in nature. As a licensee that would like to see technology development in the amateur service more by amateurs and less by corporations, I'm compelled to agree with the FCC's statement that it's in the best interest of the amateur service not to limit bandwidth beyond the current regulations.

    One important thing to note is that the FCC discounts the weighting in their decision making for petitions that come from websites where people submit "canned" responses for consideration. This is a point that should be considered by all future petitioners to help lend credence to their position. Just my 2c on that part based on what the FCC said about that in their denial of your petition.

    73, Dave
  4. N2RJ

    N2RJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Yep, so this means that for the most part, the FCC dismissed Bonnie's "flood them with my canned comments" campaign.
  5. KQ6XA

    KQ6XA Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hi Dave,

    Although that is mentioned, if you look at the FCC's statements and compare them to what 95% of the hams who made responses said, you will find that they are quite similar to what the FCC said. That is a rather significant alignment of opinion, and doesn't indicate that all those hams have been ignored :)

    Last edited: May 8, 2008
  6. N0OV

    N0OV Guest


    Looks like it is time to upgrade my HF equipment, get a Pactor III capable TNC and forward my e-mail accounts to WINLINK.

  7. KI6NNO

    KI6NNO Ham Member QRZ Page

    I totally agree with that, Bonnie. The point the FCC was making, as I understand it, is that had the web petition responses been seen as individual opinions they would have been weighted higher, and therefore had the hams' opinions been more aligned with N5RFX's petition then he may have had a better chance at swaying the FCC's ruling. My comment on this was more of an exercise in logic that could benefit future petitions than a statement of ham community opinion.

    73, Dave
  8. WA0LYK

    WA0LYK Ham Member QRZ Page

    Well, since we now have no limits placed on multi-tone data modes, is anyone aware of software/modes that will operate with an SDR like the softrock that has a bandwidth of 5 - 10 kHz? If you can't beat them, then lets join them. I would think a plain old softrock sdr coupled with a basic soundcard should support a 10 kHz bandwidth pretty well, maybe even 15 kHz. Using 100 Hz separation would allow 100 tones and should allow a pretty high bit rate.

    I doubt SCS will ever come out with a pactor 4 modem like this since marine radios and most amateur radios won't support that wide a bandwidth. This seems like a perfect opportunity for some enterprising ham to develop software for a fairly cheap radio, i.e. softrock, that could accomplish this.

    I'll be doing some cogitating on what an amplifier that will support a fairly high average power should look like. I'm guessing for consistent qso's, the amp should be capable of at least 500 watts continuous output and maybe more. Spreading 500 watts over 50 - 100 tones simultaneous tones doesn't allow much for each tone.

  9. WY6K

    WY6K Ham Member QRZ Page

    Perhaps I could introduce you to a new word: sought.
  10. W6EM

    W6EM Ham Member QRZ Page

    Don't kid yourself, Jim. SCS and the Board of Directors at Newington are licking their chops. ARRLink is just the beginning.

    Sorry, Bonnie, but ALE (Quick Call v. 999 on steroids) just won't do.

    The door is now wide open for ARRL to resubmit their RB proposal and go for broadband IP content widgets all over the HF bands.

    And all along I thought BPL was the scourge of HF. We have seen the enemy. And, it is us!!!
  11. NF0A

    NF0A Ham Member QRZ Page

    Mr. Miller commented today:
    "I am disappointed that the FCC did not elaborate on the purpose of Section 97.307(f) which limits specified RTTY or data emissions to a symbol rate not to exceed 300 bauds (in the 80 to 12 meter bands) or 1200 bauds (in the 10 meter band); or for frequency-shift keying (FSK), to a maximum frequency shift of 1 kilohertz between mark and space. Why is that there?
    The FCC has spoken and the status quo prevails."

    Archaic? C.W is considered "Archaic" and is still popular and used well. Psk-31 and other modes are an advancement and new ones will pop up from time to time so why is Mr.Miller being "Archaic"? Seems to me he wants attention...;)
  12. W6EM

    W6EM Ham Member QRZ Page

    I think you missed the point. Perhaps on purpose.

    Mark's intent wasn't to preserve archaic modes at all. Simply to clarify the vague and archaic regulation that permits unlimited bandwidth for any and all modes so long as modulating components do so at less than the stated character rates. Heck, how about a hundred individual subcarriers all going at once. Call it Pactor "C" (Roman numeral for 100). Regulations permit it, so long as each subcarrier character rate meets the 300 Baud rate below 28MHz.

    It was not the FCC's original intention to "open the digital floodgates" to modes that would consume significant spectrum. That is obvious when you look at permissible digital character rates in regulations being generally inversely proportional to wavelength. And, is based upon greater amateur spectrum allotment as wavelength shrinks.

    Now, someone can and likely will design a communications device that will consume a boatload of spectrum since the FCC doesn't seem to care.

    Think the SailMail/WinLink folks are a problem? We ain't seen nothin' yet.
  13. KY5U

    KY5U Subscriber QRZ Page

    Or how about:

    Perhaps I could introduce you to a new word: among.

  14. KC7GNM

    KC7GNM Ham Member QRZ Page


    Apparently the FCC is in bed with the winlid folks. If they had weighed the canned responses like they said they did then the pros would have outdone the cons. Now this is just going to open the floodgates for winlids. I notice that they say we do a fine job of policing ourselves however when you do collect evidence of interference they don't do a thing about it.
  15. WA0LYK

    WA0LYK Ham Member QRZ Page

    I think they have made it plain that a "bandwidth" regulatory plan just isn't in the works. However, they may have an ulterior motive such that when things get bad enough we would all agree to this.

    Wide, wide bandwidths like 5, 10, or 25 kHz is just not going to work with current certified equipment (marine for example) or with most amateur radios. This makes a market for modems this bandwidths this wide pretty small at this time. The only rigs I know of that could handle this kind of bandwidth relatively quickly would be the current crop of SDR radios. With SDR's, who needs modems?

  16. AD7BK

    AD7BK Ham Member QRZ Page


    I have a idea. One frequency per band for Winlink NOT IN THE VOICE AREA and away from Rtty with enough room around it so they can have their toy. What is so darn special about winlink? It seems that they want to turn our ham bands into one big chat room (like irc) it seems that they are trying to get rid of the voice so that winlink can get rich. they don't care about us. They try to tell us it will help emergency services. But the truth is they want to have a e-mail gateway. Once Winlink becomes a reality say bye to the bands as it will take over. If Winlink takes over might as well allow bpl. All it is about is money. Who cares about the little guys (us). All we need to do is keep being a thorn in their sides. ARRL before i found all this out I thought was for amateurs. It don't seem, to be anymore. I am afraid like getting my drivers license (which now is a moot point since it costs so much to drive) it would seem my ham licnse is a moot point to since BPL and WINLINK could take over.

    I guess the world is all about where the money is. Greed is the root of all bad things.

    Oh well

    its over.

    Unless we fight it.

    Please tell me that getting my license wasn't a waste of time and money...

    Winlink has its uses but not in the ham bands.
  17. WA6ITF

    WA6ITF Ham Member QRZ Page

    This One Is Far More Important

    I find it quite interesting that people get so upset over a non-issue such as Pactor III and other allied digital data modes -- which -- in the overall -- will affect very few for several more decades. The FCC dismissed Mark's petition because the Cmmission is in a deregulatory frame of mind and has been for many years. It also is in a budget pinch any any regulation it imposesw costs it money to enforce. The few the rules, the less of an economic burden the Amateur Service is to the FCC.

    What I find most amusing is that all of you have missed the far more important action issued at the same time. That being the denial of another petition by the FCC: That one aimed at creating at least one subband -- in this case on 2 meters -- for the introduction of digital voice technology.

    Basically, two Los Angeles area hams petitioned the FCC to open 145.5 to 145.8 MHz as another repeater subband on 2 meters for digital voice only. The two claimed -- quite accurately -- that in crowded urban areas that it is all but impossible to introduce digital voice repeater because analog machines own all the channel pairs. The FCC declined the petition noting that most of 2 meters is already dedicated to relay-type communications and tossed the matter back i the hands of the ham community to work together to figure it out -- without any input or assistance from the FCC. You cam read the actual decision at:

    OK. Was this change really needed? It depends on your point of view. If you have invested close to $8000 to put up a digital voice repeater only to find not one channel pair available -- even on a time shared basis - you would llikely agree with its proponents. On the other hand, if you own and / or operate an analog FM repeater - or are just a user, you will rejoice kin that your "investment" has just been "protected" by this FCC decision.

    So what does this mean? In simplest terms, the introduction of digital voice -- really D-Star -- in most urban areas will have to wait for either an existing analog repeater owner/operator to convert to digital or for the owner / operator of an analog FM repeater to retire and turn the channel pair back to the local coordination body -- if one exists. Oh -- there wl be sme fly-by-night concepts that hams wll come up with, but in reality the FCC is saying that if it repeats -- be it analog or digital -m it has to do so in a repeater subband.

    While this decision may not impact operations in the cornfields of Iowa or he hinterlands of the great South-West, it is gong to mean that on 2 meters - and in some geographic rregions on 70 CM as well -- that its going to be a long, long time before digital voice can get a true foothold. Unless we see a $129 digital voice transceiver come to the market to spark interest - the switchover -- which will eventually happen -- will be agonizingly slow. And the last thing I expect to see at next weeks Dayton Hamvention is a $129 digital audio transceiver for 2 meters or any band for that matter.

    I am not saying that digital voice and digital voice relay is dead. Far from it. I stiill preict tha in al aspects of ham radio that digital will replace analog over due time. But its going to be a far longer time period before digital voice supplants analog FM as the mode of choice for day to day, local and web-relayed voice communications. And in reality, this affects a far greater number of spectrum users than does a limited interest mode like HF digital data transfer using Pactor III or any other client. And from the standpoint of news, at it affects numbers, this denial is far more significant than is the one dismissing Mar's requested rules change.

    de WA6ITF
  18. W3DBB

    W3DBB Ham Member QRZ Page

    I've always enjoyed Mark's comments on QRZ and thought his petition was well written. His knowlege in this area surpasses mine 100:1.

    The N5RFX petition was, in part, a request for regulation by bandwidth. The FCC has gone on record in their response as unreceptive to regulation by bandwidth.

    IMO enforcement of 47CFR97.113(a)(5) is all that is needed.


  19. W6EM

    W6EM Ham Member QRZ Page

    Really? Have a listen to 20M sometime. At least a half dozen pactor boxes buzzing away continuously, occupying about 3kHz each. This pronouncement will open the floodgates.

    I see. So, this is why Mr. Enforcer (Newsline quote) goes about nailing hapless hams who "don't pay their repeater dues" to repeater trolls?

    If the FCC's so strapped for funds, why does Mr. Enforcer create his own regulations to threaten amateurs?
    Last edited: May 9, 2008
  20. AB0WR

    AB0WR Ham Member QRZ Page

    So why is two meters the only possible area for the incubation of digital voice repeaters?

    If you have to buy a new radio to take advantage of the digital voice repeater why not a 220mhz or 440mhz radio? I could understand this if D* repeaters were compatible with everybody's analog 2m radio but it is *NOT*.

    This sounds like some extremely "in-the-box" thinking to me -- 2m is what most people use on analog so my new digital voice repeater has to be on 2m.

    tim ab0wr
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