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"Reasonable and Prudent": Should the FCC remove restrictions on power?

Discussion in 'Survey Center' started by AB2T, Jan 8, 2012.


OK those kilowatt powerhouses?

  1. Yes

    13 vote(s)
  2. Yes, but with conditions (explain)

    4 vote(s)
  3. Yes, but all operators should participate (explain)

    0 vote(s)
  4. No

    56 vote(s)
  5. This idea is completely insane!

    37 vote(s)
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  1. AB2T

    AB2T Ham Member QRZ Page

    Amps are an important part of the hobby which some hams consider almost a necessity. For decades, American hams have been restricted to 1500w PEP on all frequencies unless otherwise restricted. Canadian Advanced qualification operators can operate up to 2250w PEP. Britain allows its Advanced operators only 400w. There is by no means international agreement on operator power levels.

    Similarly, speed limits are different around the world. In most European Union countries, the absolute highway speed limit is 80 mph (130 km/h). As is famously known, certain stretches of the German autobahn have a "recommended" speed limit of 80 mph. However, drivers may drive as fast as conditions permit. Still, those drivers who survive very high speed collisions above the recommended speed limit forfeit their car insurance benefits. A driver must balance freedom with civil, legal, and lethal risk. For a decade or so Montana experimented with a similar policy, with signs reading "Reasonable and Prudent".

    In an autobahn vein, I propose that the FCC remove all power restrictions, either carrier or PEP, for Advanced and Amateur Extra licensees. Technician and General operators would still be allowed up to 1500w PEP where permitted. The "recommended" power limit for Advanceds and Extras would still be 1500w PEP. However, higher class operators would be permitted to operate more power if a very high level of spectral purity is maintained.

    Operators who run <=1500w and knowingly or unknowingly produce splatter and spurious emissions would be subject to much more lenient enforcement than those hams who cause interference with much greater amplification. While an operator running an improperly tuned amp up to or at the recommended power level might receive a series of warnings before gradual enforcement, the penalty scale for those hams running "dirty" amps at more than the recommended power level would be much more severe, with earlier financial penalties.

    Is the removal of ham power limits possible with the current lack of FCC enforcement? Would the removal of power limits result in a small minority of hams monopolizing the bands? Let me know your ideas and how you'd change the system.
  2. NI7I

    NI7I Guest

    Well Jordan, Since the present power regulations are all but unenforceable, I wouldnt waste my time changing them. For all intents and purposes, we have
    unlimited power available now.. The only limitation is our checkbooks. It would be nice if the operators that do use QRO would make sure that their amps
    were properly adjusted but reallym, thats already part of the body of regulations that are unenforced.

  3. SM0AOM

    SM0AOM Ham Member QRZ Page

    There exists at least one international objection for removing the FCC power limit;
    the ITU Radio Regulations which say:

    "25.7 § 4. The maximum power of amateur stations shall be fixed by the administrations concerned."

    If the FCC would state that they will not regulate amateur power levels, some eyebrows are likely to be raised in the ITU.

    It is however more reasonable to expect future lowered permitted amateur power levels as the public becomes more aware of electromagnetic fields.

    If the EU field strength limit for radiated immunity EMC compliance for consumer goods, 3 V/m, would be used as a standard even for exposure of the public, maximum permitted power in the HF bands of 50 - 100 W to dipoles may become the outcome.

  4. AB2T

    AB2T Ham Member QRZ Page

    Completely agreed. This question is entirely hypothetical because, as you say, enforcement is nonexistent anyway.

    This "poll" is in part intended as a way to discuss the lack of enforcement and the routine disregard for the "legal limit". Even if the FCC decided to enforce Part 97 again, some operators would inevitably continue to run even more power. In a hypothetical world where the FCC actually did its job, I don't see why the above system could not be put into place. In an ideal situation, hams could either follow the power limit, exceed the limit but with a clean signal and not be punished, or exceed the limit with poorly-maintained equipment and receive progressive fines. In a way, my idea decriminalizes excessive power so long as the operator maintains his or her station responsibly.

    Karl-Arne, I wouldn't mind that legislation at all since I only run up to ~120w or so. I have no wish to use any amplifier -- the above question is completely contrary-to-fact for me. I also agree also that operators have a responsibility to maintain a safe operating environment. However, as Lee notes, amateur radio legal enforcement in the US is non-existent. Environmental legislation is given virtually no priority given because our government ministry does almost nothing anyway. Even if there were enforcement, the FCC could not possibly issue citations to the large number of hams who exceed the limit but do so with a clean signal. Ignoring these hams despite their lawlessness might actually focus efforts on getting verbally abusive hams off the air.

    The FCC need not petition for an exemption from ITU law. The 1500W limit would remain. However, de facto unlimited power would be permitted.
  5. KB3LAZ

    KB3LAZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Of the European ops that I have worked they seem to have better operating practices and more patience in general when compared to many US QRO stations I talk to. May have something to do with their power restrictions or just their upbringing or maybe both. Just a random thought. I suppose that for a conclusion to be reached on that particular subject it would take sociological data that I do not have a desire to find and am unqualified to properly deduce myself.

    That being said, I will get to see things from the other side of the pond shortly.

    As for a change on power restrictions in the US..I dont really have an opinion. Suppose it would be something to ponder over.
  6. NI7I

    NI7I Guest

    I dont see that as an objection. I see it, on the contrary, as the ITU saying that it's up to the various countries to set limits.
    I think the limits should be removed and technical standards raised.


  7. WA4OTD

    WA4OTD XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I don't think they should remove the limit, if someone wants to violate the law we should not change the law to accomodate them. The present limits are high enough.
  8. KJ3N

    KJ3N Ham Member QRZ Page

    They are? That's news to me. My amp is off 75% of the time.

    As to the rest of your post? I find it to be a pretty dumb idea. 1500w is enough for anyone.

    Lack of FCC enforcement is a budgetary issue. You want enforcement, get Congress to increase the FCC's budget, or allow the FCC to keep the money it collects for fees and fines. Right now, all that goes into the General Fund.
  9. AG8K

    AG8K Ham Member QRZ Page

    Most expensive things in America (Mercedes SLR McLaren, private aircraft, NYC penthouse apartments, good health care?) are limited to the rich. I don't see why extra power amplifiers should be any different. If you can afford a 10KW amp and the electricity to run it, it is OK with me. The essence of American is supposed to be freedom, not government control.

    73, Tom
  10. AG8K

    AG8K Ham Member QRZ Page

    It is interesting to me that not one modern amp has a build-in monitor scope. Is it that CRT monitor scopes no longer work with modern radio equipment or is it that we just don't give a hoot?
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