New IARU bandplan threatens AM

The following message is n behalf of the AM Forum team at, reprinted here as a courtesy and to get their message out.

Please take a few minutes to consider what follows — some concerns a number of us have recently identified that are related to a suggested HF band plan coming from a group of volunteers known as the International Amateur Radio Union. This plan takes effect in January.
I would ask that you endorse and express these concerns yourself in an email to some of the key people in the IARU, some of whom have kindly offered to revise their plan in acknowledgment of the healthy and growing presence of AM activity on HF.

The following is a letter outlining these concerns that you may adapt in your own words, or simply incorporate as written in an email under your signature.
Thank you for taking the time. Amending proposals such as this will help preclude any regulatory moves in the future that could cause problems for AM operations. Achieving positive change will also allow the AM Community to support the IARU’s voluntary plan, which is not possible as it is now written.

Thank you for your consideration.
Paul Courson WA3VJB
AMfone –
The AM Forum  Team

Suggested recipient list to express concern:

IARU Representatives:
[email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]

Optionally, you may also wish to copy some of the  ARRL people responsible for representing U.S. licensees at the IARU and IARU Region 2 matters:
[email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]

And even further down the list, possibly copy your ARRL Division representatives as shown at


Effective Jan, 2008
To: Delegates and representatives, International Amateur Radio Union
From: Concerned amateur licensee
    (ADD your name, and call)
    (ADD callbook hometown, email address)
Subject: Region 2 Band Plan

A substantial group of active licensees in the amateur community faces problems because of the Region 2 Band Plan developed at September’s IARU meeting in Brazil. Please consider additional revisions to this plan before it is implemented so that it may win significant support from those of us who enjoy using Amplitude Modulation on the HF bands.

“AMers” have a long and successful leadership role in coordinating our operations to minimize friction with incompatible modes and activities.  The Region 2 plan fails to acknowledge this leadership as it imposes a bandwidth specification that would be impossible for us to meet.
Government regulatory agencies throughout Region 2 have supported a variety of “phone” modes while avoiding or not emphasizing an enumeration of bandwidth.

The U.S., where the numerically largest stronghold of AM activity exists, deliberately encourages such activity by instead mandating a technically clean signal, and imposing on operators a requirement to minimize the chance for interference.

There have been no documented complaints against AM activity based on unreasonable bandwidth, according to Federal Communications Commission enforcement counsel Riley Hollingsworth.

The system that does NOT use a bandwidth method to coordinate activities is prevalent throughout Region 2. It has worked well and has widespread acceptance as part of an otherwise voluntary layout of where such operations are situated.

The IARU voluntary band plan for Region 2 would be at odds with regulations in the area’s major countries including the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. Yet the plan can still win the support of AMers by simply deleting the numerical bandwidth specification, and including us among the other modes and activities you list in the main table.

It is unfair and risky to place AM operations as a “footnote” to the table, as now written, since the IARU president, Larry Price, has made it clear he wishes to discourage footnotes among the various regional plans he oversees. Such a placement unwittingly portrays AM as an otherwise non-compliant mode. The preamble to the Region 2 plan encourages IARU member societies to lobby government regulators to formally adopt the plan’s provisions.

The combination of AM’s placement and the regulatory advocacy accompanying the plan represents a direct threat to AM that the IARU may not have intended to convey. Come January you would be suggesting limits that are more severe than regulations from the governments in the region. This, at a time the IARU has traditionally encouraged the least restrictive environment. Please return to that approach so that active and concerned licensees can make the most of the spectrum allocated to amateurs for hobbyist and volunteer emergency use.

Please revise the Region 2 plan to avoid numerical bandwidth specifications, and instead list generalized references to a signal’s footprint. The terms “large,” “medium,” and “small” bandwidth utilization nicely provide a mnemonic that supports existing patterns of operating we all wish to promote. Avoiding numerical references further supports the coordination of new modes that may come from the category of digital communications.

It would be unfortunate for the IARU to seek to impose an operating strategy that spurns a popular part of the hobby, that of using AM in a vintage, nostalgic environment of storytelling and technical pursuit. One of the U.S. clubs, the American Radio Relay League, recently conducted a survey among several regions that found nearly 20 percent of subscribers include AM as among their operating activities on HF.  These numbers exceed those of “digital” buffs and several other activities you now recognize in the main table of your bandplan.

AMers have done nothing to warrant being relegated to the status of a footnote, nor to have our leadership overlooked in the voluntary coordination of our activities that has long been recognized and praised on the bands.

Please respond with your thoughts on actions you can quickly take to revise the Region 2 plan before it is implemented to bring it into compliance with how AM is accepted and viewed in the countries hoping to support your plan.

(ADD your name/call)

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1 Response to New IARU bandplan threatens AM

  1. K3BM says:

    Here was the response to me sending out the above mentioned letter.


    Thank you for letting me know of your concerns with regard to the band plan adopted recently by the member-societies of IARU Region 2. You sent your message to a number of individuals; because the ARRL is the representative organization in the IARU for radio amateurs of the United States, I am replying on their behalf.

    IARU regional band plans have been in existence for many years. They are developed, reviewed and approved at regional conferences of the IARU member-societies. The band plans provide voluntary guidelines that are intended to assist amateurs in making the most effective use of our limited frequency allocations. They are not restrictions and carry no regulatory authority. On behalf of the ARRL, I can assure you that there are no plans to propose incorporating any IARU band plan into the FCC rules. One virtue of voluntary band plans is that they are more flexible and can be amended more easily than the FCC rules; writing them into the rules would be counterproductive.

    The new IARU Region 2 band plan was developed by delegates to the Region 2 Conference from a number of countries. It does not align in every respect either with the FCC rules or with operating patterns followed by US amateurs. Unlike the United States, most countries do not have regulations setting out subbands for different types of emission. Even in the US the FCC rules do not provide much detail with regard to frequency use. As FCC amateur licensees we are obliged to cooperate with one another in selecting transmitting channels and making the most effective use of amateur service frequencies, and to follow good engineering and good amateur practice.

    Your message objects to the Region 2 band plan for “suggesting limits that are more severe than regulations from the governments in the region.” However, the band plan does not contain “limits.” As voluntary guidelines the band plan cannot by definition be “more severe” than regulations. And finally, if the band plan did not suggest an operating pattern that is a subset of the regulations it would serve no purpose.

    Your message refers to IARU President Larry Price as wishing “to discourage footnotes among the various regional plans he oversees.” First, the IARU President does not “oversee” regional band plans. Each regional plan is developed by the member-societies of that region, in accordance with the constitution, bylaws and rules of the regional organization. The regional organizations are autonomous entities and do not answer to the IARU President. Second, Mr. Price’s observation with regard to footnotes had nothing whatsoever to do with IARU band plans. Footnotes are not by their nature either good or bad; it depends on what they say. Mr. Price’s observation had to do specifically with footnotes in the ITU Table of Frequency Allocations that prohibit amateur operation, or authorize sharing by additional services, in certain countries in certain parts of the bands that are allocated in the ITU Table to the amateur service. One of the goals of the IARU is to minimize such footnotes. On the other hand, there are other footnotes to the ITU Table that are extremely beneficial to Amateur Radio, such as the ones permitting amateur-satellite operation. In any case this is totally unrelated to IARU band planning activities, which are internal to the amateur service and to each regional IARU organization and have nothing whatever to do with the ITU.

    I hope this has reassured you that nothing will happen on January 1 that will in any way affect your use of AM. We are always seeking ways to improve the process of revision of the IARU Region 2 band plan and the ARRL Board of Directors, who determine the policy for ARRL’s input to IARU Region 2, are always open to member input on future revisions that ARRL delegates may take to future Region 2 Conferences. I encourage you to communicate with the Division Director in your ARRL Division.

    Sincere 73,

    Joel Harrison, W5ZN

    ARRL President

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