A Bandwidth-Based Frequency Plan
for the High Frequency Bands of the Amateur Radio Service in USA
---an article by Bonnie Crystal KQ6XA
 
This article is a work in progress. It continues to be updated and revised. We appreciate suggestions and feedback.
Recent advancements in radio technology and licensing structure mean amateurs desperately need a better frequency plan in the USA.

We Need A Bandwidth-Based Frequency Plan for the next decade of Amateur Radio...  a plan that is Mode-Independent.

Digital Modulation and Processing is the Future
Digital modulation and processing is changing the way we communicate and coexist in the HF frequency spectrum. With the multitude of new digital and analog modulation schemes, including digital voice, there are compelling reasons to integrate voice, CW, data, image, and keyboarding "modes". Hams want the freedom to use existing and future technology to simultaneously keyboard, exchange multimedia or email files, and talk by voice with each other on the same frequency... something our present rules prevent on HF.
 The rapid advancement of modulation methods are making many new ways of communication possible that were only dreamed of in the past.

Please consider the future of amateur radio over the next 10 years.
We have the HF spectrum capacity to handle the increased traffic if we manage it efficiently, but our old frequency plans for the bands are not up to the job. We need a major overhaul to distribute the spectrum equitably and evenly, without enormous gaps of little activity, and traffic-jams of QRM.
 

CLICK:  ZOOM
CLICK ON THE CHART TO ZOOM.
Bandwidth-Based HF Frequency Plan for USA.

Mode is No Longer a Valid Definition
Due to digital communication technology changes, the old definitions of what a "mode" is are now blurred beyond recognition. Existing band/mode rules are stifling creativity. The bandwidth-based plan allows any mode on any frequency, according to the emission bandwidth. For instance, when the technology advances to transmit voice within a 500Hz bandwidth, it will not be necessary to re-write the rules for it.

Are we to continue to advance the state-of-the-art? 

Will we be called upon to provide emergency and disaster communications?
 

Are We Not Communicators?
One example of how our present plan stifles communication is by keeping USA amateurs segregated and actually preventing us from communicating efficiently with the rest of the world on the 40 and 80/75 meter bands. Hams want to be able to communicate via voice internationally on the 40m and 80m ham bands without cumbersome split bands, which makes each QSO consume twice the necessary bandwidth.

Emergency Preparedness
As we have seen in the past with the great participation of Technician class operators in ARES and other emergency preparedness, when it comes to emergency operations, license class-ism barriers need to disappear in favor of providing essential communications.
For regional emergency communications, HF voice access to the NVIS bands (160m, 75m, 60m, 40m, and 30m) is necessary to establish workable networks.

10 years From Now, 30% of All USA Hams Will Be Novice Operators
Under the new ARRL proposed license restructuring plan, the number of amateur radio operators on HF will increase dramatically. This is good. We need it to preserve our frequency allocations and encourage operators to continue to renew their licenses. We will see a vast increase in the number of new Novice operators. The new Novices will be valuable emergency communicators, so we need to make some room in a wide variety of our bands for us to communicate with them, especially on the band segments which are commonly utilized for emergency nets. However, Novice operation should not be allowed on the more sensitive HF amateur bands which are shared with other communications services, 60 meters and 30 meters. 

30 Meter Voice Is Needed
In some of the larger states of the USA, the 30 meter band is the only daytime HF band which can support state-wide low power NVIS voice communications at mid-day. This is an important asset for emergency response at the state level which needs to be expanded to enable seamless and simultaneous QSO of voice and data (the primary mediums for emergency comms).
 

Would you like to decrease the QRM you are experiencing in the popular HF bands?
We need to expand use into parts of our HF bands that are nearly dormant... such as the bottom 50% of the 80 meter band, the middle of the 40m band, and sections of 15 meters. By encouraging wider bandwidths throughout 10 meters, we can help defend it better against pirates, and at the same time make it available for experimental signal types and time-multiplexed digital retransmitters (digiboosters). 

73---Bonnie KQ6XA
 

An HF Frequency Plan by Emission Bandwidth Not Mode
If we are to continue to advance amateur radio into the future, we need Mode Flexibility. Otherwise, we will be faced with the need to be constantly generating new proposals to the FCC to accomodate new technology. The simplest and best way to solve this problem is to divide the HF bands according to emission bandwidth for better distribution of spectrum activity. This will not only encourage new research and development in modulation techniques, but it will help amateurs to communicate with each other by breaking down the frequency/mode/band barriers which have confounded us on some bands for the past 40+ years. 

Emission Bandwidths for HF Expansion
By the use of several standard emission bandwidths: 500Hz, 3kHz, and 10kHz, we can fit many more QSOs into our HF bands. Modern HF radios with brickwall filters enable us to fit more signals in the same band. Under the thumb of our olde 20th century mode-based frequency bands, many parts of our HF bands are dormant, while other parts of the same band are packed to the brim. It is not efficient, and we need to make use of all the available spectrum to both accommodate the traffic and to distribute activity so that amateurs maintain valuable spectrum. Use it or lose it. By allowing any mode with <500Hz bandwidth throughout the entire band, and allowing 80% of the band to be used by <3kHz bandwidth signals, we not only expand within our useful spectrum, but we increase our ability to pioneer new modulation methods and communicate internationally. By devoting parts of our largest and least-used HF bands to 10kHz bandwidth, we make space for experimental signal types, wideband SSB, AM, FM, digital voice, time-division-multiplex, wideband digital voice, OFDM, email, high resolution images, high definition television, and simultaneous multimedia.

Do you want to experiment using new interesting modulation methods?
USA is undisputedly the most prolific country in the world for inventions and new technology. Top of the heap. We traditionally profess to be the fountain of freedom for the world. Yet, antiquated amateur radio restrictions in USA keep us in a technology jail, held back by the bars of arcane rules. 
 

Do you want to communicate more freely with amateur operators in other countries and regions?
Bandwidth-based rules and bandplans are already established in many countries around the world, including Canada. 

Please consider supporting a change to a Bandwidth-Based Frequency Plan.
And while you are at it... tell a friend about it. Talk about it on the air. Talk with your ARRL representative or director. Print this chart (below) and discuss it at your next ham club meeting!
 
 

AMATEUR EXTRA LICENSE HF BANDS
kHz
1800 to 1820 any mode <500Hz bandwidth
1820 to 1900 any mode <3kHz bandwidth
1900 to 1950 any mode <10kHz bandwidth
1950 to 2000 any mode <3kHz bandwidth
3500 to 3575 any mode <500Hz bandwidth
3575 to 3800 any mode <3kHz bandwidth
3800 to 3900 any mode <10kHz bandwidth
3900 to 4000 any mode <3kHz bandwidth
5MHz channels <2.8kHz See note*
7000 to 7050 any mode <500Hz bandwidth
7050 to 7300 any mode <3kHz bandwidth
10100 to 10115 any mode <500Hz bandwidth
10115 to 10150 any mode <3kHz bandwidth
14000 to 14075 any mode <500Hz bandwidth
14075 to 14200 any mode <3kHz bandwidth
14200 to 14250 any mode <10kHz bandwidth
14250 to 14350 any mode <3kHz bandwidth
18068 to 18080 any mode <500Hz bandwidth
18080 to 18168 any mode <3kHz bandwidth
21000 to 21100 any mode <500Hz bandwidth
21100 to 21350 any mode <3kHz bandwidth
21350 to 21450 any mode <10kHz bandwidth
24890 to 24900 any mode <500Hz bandwidth
24900 to 24950 any mode <3kHz bandwidth
24950 to 24990 any mode <10kHz bandwidth
28000 to 28100 any mode <500Hz bandwidth
28100 to 28600 any mode <3kHz bandwidth
28600 to 29700 any mode <25kHz bandwidth


*5MHz CHANNELS NOTE
1. (5MHz)  Amateur radio service operation is on a secondary user basis; operators must yield to primary users.
2. (5MHz) Channel center frequencies are 5332kHz, 5348kHz, 5368kHz, 5373kHz, and 5405kHz.
3. (5MHz)  USB voice transmissions must use phantom carrier frequencies of 5330.5kHz, 5346.5kHz, 5366.5kHz, 5371.5kHz, and 5403.5kHz.
4. (5MHz)  Emission bandwidth must not exceed 2.8kHz.
5. (5MHz)  Transmissions other than USB voice may only be initiated if the transmitting operator is monitoring on the same USB voice channel for non-interference to primary users.
6. (5MHz)  A transmission or sequence of transmissions other than USB voice must not exceed 90 seconds duration with a 90 second interval between a transmission or sequence of transmissions.
7. (5MHz)  For emergency communications, a transmission or sequence of transmissions other than USB voice is not limited in duration or time interval between transmissions.

 

GENERAL  LICENSE  HF BANDS
kHz
1810 to 1820 any mode <500Hz bandwidth
1820 to 1900 any mode <3kHz bandwidth
1900 to 1950 any mode <10kHz bandwidth
1950 to 2000 any mode <3kHz bandwidth
3510 to 3575 any mode <500Hz bandwidth
3625 to 3800 any mode <3kHz bandwidth
3800 to 3900 any mode <10kHz bandwidth
3900 to 4000 any mode <3kHz bandwidth
5MHz channels <2.8kHz See note*
7010 to 7050 any mode <500Hz bandwidth
7100 to 7300 any mode <3kHz bandwidth
10100 to 10115 any mode <500Hz bandwidth
10115 to 10150 any mode <3kHz bandwidth
14010 to 14075 any mode <500Hz bandwidth
14100 to 14200 any mode <3kHz bandwidth
14200 to 14250 any mode <10kHz bandwidth
14250 to 14350 any mode <3kHz bandwidth
18068 to 18080 any mode <500Hz bandwidth
18080 to 18168 any mode <3kHz bandwidth
21010 to 21075 any mode <500Hz bandwidth
21100 to 21350 any mode <3kHz bandwidth
21350 to 21450 any mode <10kHz bandwidth
24890 to 24900 any mode <500Hz bandwidth
24900 to 24950 any mode <3kHz bandwidth
24950 to 24990 any mode <10kHz bandwidth
28000 to 28100 any mode <500Hz bandwidth
28100 to 28600 any mode <3kHz bandwidth
28600 to 29700 any mode <25kHz bandwidth


NOVICE  LICENSE  HF BANDS
kHz
1900 to 2000 any mode <3kHz bandwidth
3510 to 3575 any mode <500Hz bandwidth
3800 to 4000 any mode <3kHz bandwidth
7010 to 7050 any mode <500Hz bandwidth
7200 to 7300 any mode <3kHz bandwidth
14025 to 14075 any mode <500Hz bandwidth
14250 to 14350 any mode <3kHz bandwidth
18068 to 18080 any mode <500Hz bandwidth
18100 to 18168 any mode <3kHz bandwidth
21010 to 21075 any mode <500Hz bandwidth
21300 to 21350 any mode <3kHz bandwidth
24890 to 24900 any mode <500Hz bandwidth
24900 to 24990 any mode <3kHz bandwidth
28000 to 28100 any mode <500Hz bandwidth
28100 to 28600 any mode <3kHz bandwidth
28600 to 29700 any mode <25kHz bandwidth


Emission Bandwidth Note:
Emission bandwidth is determined at -30dBc points.

Bandwidth-Based Frequency Plan for the High Frequency Bands of the Amateur Radio Service in USA
VERSION 4.1
DATE 02 FEB 2004

73---Bonnie KQ6XA