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Author Topic: Should band plans be revised?  (Read 11550 times)
N2EY
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Posts: 3860




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« Reply #45 on: December 07, 2010, 06:45:43 PM »


But I think the code *TEST* was dropped from amateur radio licensing for very different reasons.


The main reason that code was dropped is because amateur radio is a hobby in decline and making it easier to get licensed gave it additional life support, at least for some time.  The number of licensed hams in the US over the past 10 years has remained flat (+/- 1%), in spite of a 10% increase in population. 

Your definition of "decline" seems to be based entirely on the number of licensees. I think a much broader definition is needed.

Simply looking at growth in numbers as the only measure of whether something is "in decline" isn't accurate. Or good.

Edward Abbey wrote: "Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell"

I think that Quality is as important if not more important than Quantity.

If the code requirement was still in place, the number of hams would be steadily decreasing, and this is bad for both ARRL and radio equipment manufacturers, so they lobbied to get the code dropped and make ham radio more accessible.

Nobody knows how the numbers would have changed if things had turned out differently. We only know what did happen.

ARRL did *not* lobby to eliminate the code test. Some equipment manufacturers did. And some hams did.

And as has been noted in other posts, the *written* testing was also reduced and simplified.


It would be interesting to see statistic of code proficiency by age group as well as date of upgrade to General / Extra. 

That would be interesting - but such statistics aren't available because FCC hasn't kept age data on licensees for many years.

One statistic that *is* known is that people in the developed world are living longer. They're also having fewer children and having them later in life. Many countries are facing crises in their retirement programs because those systems were designed around much shorter life expectancies.

Japan in particular faces serious problems with how to fund their retirement-pension obligations.

In the USA, a considerable amount of the population growth is the result of immigration rather than a baby boom.

I bet that a very substantial percentage (probably majority) of hams who have upgraded to General / Extra after the code requirement was dropped don't know Morse and will never learn it.

Maybe. What does that matter?

A very substantial percentage of hams today - probably the majority - don't operate digital modes like PSK31, and probably never will. Does that mean the bandspace for those modes should be reduced?
 
Today ham radio is still dominated by "mature" hams who had to learn code as part of their licensing process, but as more and more new, code-less hams take over (and old-timers pass away), there will be less and less CW activity.

Maybe. But no US ham is "code-less". Any US amateur radio operator may use Morse Code if they so desire. A considerable number of newcomers *are* learning it and using it, simply because they want to.

And there are a considerable number of younger amateurs who know and use Morse Code. They will be around for a long time to come.

In fact, now that the *test* issue has been decided, we seem to be seeing an increase in Morse Code *use*. The ultimate irony of the whole situation may turn out to be that the end of code *testing* resulted in an increase in code *use*.

My question may seem controversial today (just as the idea of code-less General and Extra hams was few years ago), but it is only a matter of time that code's popularity will decrease, especially given that two largest ham communities (US and Japan), as well as ITU, have dropped code requirement.  It's only a matter of time that other countries will follow, and 20-30 years from now CW will be a relic  - few hams will practice it as an "art", but the vast majority of amateur radio community will be code-less (assuming that ham radio can survive that long as a significant activity, but that is another story).

Several countries besides the US and Japan have reduced or eliminated Morse Code testing. Yet the on-air use of Morse Code by hams seems to be increasing.

The question is - should we wait until then to revise the bandplans, or should we act proactively (maybe not today, but in 5 or 10 years) to adjust to prevailing trends. 

First you have to know what those trends really are. Which you don't. You assume that things will change a certain way, but you don't really know they will.

And what about digital modes? What do you propose for them? Should they be allowed in the 'phone subbands?

But let's get down to specifics.

What *specific* changes in "bandplans" do you want to see?

For example, for the past several years, the 80/75 meter band has been the following:

By mode:

3500 - 3600: CW, digital
3600 - 4000: Voice modes, CW

By license class:

3500 - 3525: Extra only
3525 - 3600: All classes
3600 - 3700: Extra only
3700 - 3800: Extra and Advanced
3800 - 4000: Extra, Advanced, and General

Now, how would you change those rules?

How much room would you allow for Morse Code? How much for digital? How much for voice modes?

Would you have some bandspace for Morse Code *only*? Because today there isn't any on the US HF amateur bands.

73 de Jim, N2EY
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AB2T
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Posts: 246




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« Reply #46 on: December 08, 2010, 03:41:42 AM »

While most of the comments are good and civilized, I can't help to notice that some people's the reverence for CW borders with religious fanaticism.

I wouldn't characterize the interest in CW preservation or operation "religious fanaticism".  The so-called "fanaticism" of which you talk stems in part from the healthy notion of pride of achievement and "pride of ownership" (to use a psychological term). 

Consider grade inflation in North American higher education.  At many institutions, and particularly prestigious schools such as Harvard, undergraduate grade point averages have steadily risen over the past few decades while the content and level of instruction have remained relatively constant.  A 60's graduate of a typical North American university might plausibly contend that a 3.5 GPA (upper second class, 2:1) was quite exceptional in his or her day.  A current college graduate might expect that level of achievement.  Similarly, some of us who passed the 20 wpm might justifiably contend that the removal of the code requirement and the expansion of phone bandwidth cheapens the Extra degree.  Perhaps there are thin lines between healthy pride, hubris, and even haughtiness, but achievement and its benefits are not insignificant.

<snip> few hams will practice it as an "art", but the vast majority of amateur radio community will be code-less (assuming that ham radio can survive that long as a significant activity, but that is another story).  The question is - should we wait until then to revise the bandplans, or should we act proactively (maybe not today, but in 5 or 10 years) to adjust to prevailing trends.  The gradual shift to more and more code-less hams is not noticeable today because the code requirement was dropped just recently (compared with the average lifespan of an active ham), but in my opinion the drop in code's popularity is inevitable.

Your statement justifies relaxed licensing standards through the further reallocation of CW spectrum to phone spectrum.  In other words, you would rather cement a lower level of achievement as equal to older and higher levels of achievement through de facto or even de jure modifications of ham practice and law.

Per the previous example: should we modify post-secondary education standards to placate students that expect A grade performance without superlative work?  Should we not preserve a semblance of academic rigor?  Occasionally students approach me after exams with the expectation that I will award them an A simply because, in the student's words, "I tried my best".  Ethical standards forbid me from lecturing the students on the countless times I have failed in my academic career and personal life.  However, I would rather be held to the highest standards possible rather than create endless justifications for merely satisfactory mastery of subject matter.
 
Today ham radio is still dominated by "mature" hams who had to learn code as part of their licensing process, but as more and more new, code-less hams take over (and old-timers pass away), there will be less and less CW activity.

Yes, I'm quite ancient in my early 30's.  Unlike my medieval forebears, I still have all my teeth and they work fine.  I earned my Extra as a child, yet I am not anomalous -- I bet that there are more like me on the lower edges of the band.  I have another good 40 years or so (God willing) until I achieve the SK list in QST.  Pardon, then, my decided lack of haste to relinquish the key.

73, Jordan


« Last Edit: December 08, 2010, 03:51:23 AM by Jordan » Logged
NK6Q
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Posts: 202




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« Reply #47 on: December 08, 2010, 07:29:52 AM »

May I bring up an analogy: most of today's young people, at least in the US, use text messaging frequently, perhaps even more so than just talking to someone on their cellphones.  Why is that?  To me it seems that just calling someone and talking is more efficient.  However, the popularity of texting proves me wrong.

Could it be that short, concise messages have more impact?  Or perhaps it's the KISS rule.  If so, CW is definitely in the KISS league.

One more vote here for simplicity.
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AA4PB
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Posts: 12700




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« Reply #48 on: December 08, 2010, 08:03:59 AM »

Could it be that short, concise messages have more impact?  Or perhaps it's the KISS rule. 

I think it has more to do with "multitasking". A text message can get the information across quickly without requiring much time investment on the part of the receiver. With a phone call you have to dial the number, wait for your party to answer, and exchange "pleasantries" before you can get down to the information part.
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NI0C
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Posts: 2383




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« Reply #49 on: December 08, 2010, 08:54:56 AM »

Quote
Could it be that short, concise messages have more impact?  Or perhaps it's the KISS rule.

I think it has more to do with "multitasking". A text message can get the information across quickly without requiring much time investment on the part of the receiver. With a phone call you have to dial the number, wait for your party to answer, and exchange "pleasantries" before you can get down to the information part.
Posted on

Privacy of communications is another consideration.  Texting is often done in crowded public spaces-- buses and subways, even college classrooms(!), where voice communications may be intercepted by (or an annoyance to)  others.

73,
Chuck  NI0C
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N4MJG
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Posts: 499


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« Reply #50 on: December 08, 2010, 02:53:56 PM »

4 yrs ago i took the code test  right atfer i pass the code test they drop the code, and i said watch there will be more people get in cw then learn the code without take test.i knew that going to happen !


I thought it other way round.guess not !


73

Jackie
N4MJG
WWW.N4MJG.COM

SKCC #7305
NAQCC #5233
« Last Edit: December 08, 2010, 07:53:00 PM by Jackie Green » Logged
KM9R
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« Reply #51 on: December 08, 2010, 04:28:19 PM »

No . Smiley Unless you want to move the digital modes to the ssb portions of the hf bands.
« Last Edit: December 08, 2010, 04:30:25 PM by Michael Clark » Logged
N2EY
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Posts: 3860




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« Reply #52 on: December 10, 2010, 03:28:15 AM »

Unless you want to move the digital modes to the ssb portions of the hf bands.

IIRC, one of the main reasons "Regulation By Bandwidth" and a similar proposal failed was that 'phone ops didn't want digital modes in the 'phone subbands. And they wrote many, many comments to FCC expressing that opposition.

No reason to expect that wouldn't happen again. So widening the 'phone subbands narrows the digital subbands. Not a good thing.

One more point:

The term "bandplans" is often used by hams without a clear explanation. To some hams, "bandplan" means "government regulations about subbands". To other hams, "bandplan" means "informal gentleman's agreements about subbands".

It would really help if people clarified which they meant.

73 de Jim, N2EY
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KB9CRY
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« Reply #53 on: December 10, 2010, 07:10:03 AM »

Giving how anachronic Morse code has become and how few people still use it, shouldn't the band plans be revised to reduce the "exclusive" CW portions and open up more space for SSB phone and digital modes?  I think it would make a lot of sense to allow more spectrum for modern types of communication at the expense of a dying technology.  We could still leave a small portion of the bands reserved for those who want to continue playing with Morse code, but I think the vast majority of hams will be very happy to see more space available for other forms of communication.
Any thoughts?
S. Bucki
KD8KQH




Seeing that there seems to be more CW activity and more consistently there day to day, YES the CW bands plans ought to be revised.
More band space would allow more CW ops to have a clear frequency.

Tnx for the hint.
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NI0C
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« Reply #54 on: December 10, 2010, 08:39:23 AM »

Right on, Phil!
73,
Chuck  NI0C
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K3GAU
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« Reply #55 on: December 10, 2010, 11:51:57 AM »

I have been an Extra class for 32 years. That means I had to be able to send and receive the code at 20 WPM so I don't have an axe to grind with CW operation.  What I would like to suggest is that we drop the Extra only CW sub bands.  I can count on two hands the number of times I have operated in those sub bands in 32 years.  Still keep them for CW or digital but just not for Extras only.  That would allow some of the normal CW and CW net operation to move down the band a little ways and give a little more space for the various digital modes that have developed and are continuing to develope.  Look CW, RTTY and SSB are all fine but there are a lot of other modes out there that are all squeezed into the rather narrow "CW" portions of the band.

As for the "CW can make more contacts" and "when nothing else can" crowd,  There are some of the digital modes that can have very good if not perfect copy when you can't even hear with your ears or see the signal on the waterfall.  Try that with CW!  The reason CW makes more contacts is there still is a cadre of highly trained operators for that mode.  A lot of contest operators start on SSB because it is easiest and then maybe transistion to CW as they get more experience and training.  So the most experienced and best trained ops are using CW and in poor conditions it is easier to copy CW than SSB.

Forty meters at night is a real problem child.  With all the 'outside of the US' operators running SSB down to 7050 or so, it is almost impossible to find a frequency to operate any kind of digital modes as most all CW and digital modes are squeezed down into 50 KHz or so and 25 KHz of that is Extra only!!  Something ought to give there.

Best reguards,
Dave K3GAU         
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N3QE
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« Reply #56 on: December 10, 2010, 12:19:24 PM »

I have been an Extra class for 32 years. That means I had to be able to send and receive the code at 20 WPM so I don't have an axe to grind with CW operation.  What I would like to suggest is that we drop the Extra only CW sub bands.  I can count on two hands the number of times I have operated in those sub bands in 32 years.  Still keep them for CW or digital but just not for Extras only.  That would allow some of the normal CW and CW net operation to move down the band a little ways and give a little more space for the various digital modes that have developed and are continuing to develope.  Look CW, RTTY and SSB are all fine but there are a lot of other modes out there that are all squeezed into the rather narrow "CW" portions of the band.
I understand your sentiment but one of the reasons why the bottom 25kHz is usually available for DX, is that the nets and digital stuff don't usually go into the Extra-only segment.

In other words the bottom 25kHz is a truly special place for DX and I'm unwilling to give it up without some other enlargement of the CW bands, and probably a more gentlemenly agreement about where CW, specifically CW DX, should be and the other digital modes shouldn't be.

I do agree fully with other points you made especially the "impedance mismatch" between US and Europe on 40M.

Tim.
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N2EY
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« Reply #57 on: December 10, 2010, 12:27:24 PM »

What I would like to suggest is that we drop the Extra only CW sub bands.  I can count on two hands the number of times I have operated in those sub bands in 32 years. 

I've been an Extra for more than 40 years and I operate in those subbands all the time.

I disagree with giving them away. The Extra requires just one more written test beyond General; if someone wants to operate in those subbands, why not just upgrade?

Still keep them for CW or digital but just not for Extras only.  That would allow some of the normal CW and CW net operation to move down the band a little ways and give a little more space for the various digital modes that have developed and are continuing to develope.  Look CW, RTTY and SSB are all fine but there are a lot of other modes out there that are all squeezed into the rather narrow "CW" portions of the band.

If that's the case, the answer is to widen the CW/digital subbands. Why not allow digital modes in the 'phone subbands?


As for the "CW can make more contacts" and "when nothing else can" crowd,  There are some of the digital modes that can have very good if not perfect copy when you can't even hear with your ears or see the signal on the waterfall.

Then how do the operators know the signal is even there?


 Try that with CW!  The reason CW makes more contacts is there still is a cadre of highly trained operators for that mode.  A lot of contest operators start on SSB because it is easiest and then maybe transistion to CW as they get more experience and training.  So the most experienced and best trained ops are using CW and in poor conditions it is easier to copy CW than SSB.

All the more reason to have more CW/digital bandspace. And all the more reason to upgrade to Extra.


Forty meters at night is a real problem child.  With all the 'outside of the US' operators running SSB down to 7050 or so, it is almost impossible to find a frequency to operate any kind of digital modes as most all CW and digital modes are squeezed down into 50 KHz or so and 25 KHz of that is Extra only!!  Something ought to give there.

What ought to give is the foreign 'phones insisting on operating so low in the band.

There was a time when hams outside Region 2 only had 7000-7100. Back then they had to operate 'phone below 7100; there was no other choice.

But a few years back the SWBC folks moved out of 7100-7200 and in much of the world it is now available to hams. So why don't the non-USA 'phone stations move up there?

Maybe an even better solution is to have a part of each band that is CW only. Say, 7000 to 7060 on 40 meters. And let the digital folks use their modes in at least some of the 'phone subbands.

Heck, look at 80/75 meters. The CW and digital folks get just 100 kHz while the 'phone folks get 400 kHz. Seems out of balance to me.

For far too long the solution has always been to widen the 'phone bands and reduce the license requirements.

I say - ENOUGH!

73 de Jim, N2EY
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K3GAU
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« Reply #58 on: December 10, 2010, 06:13:06 PM »

Jim,

While I agree with your assessment of who should give, most of what I hear below 7100 on SSB are our neighbors to the north and south of us.  Well alot of what I hear in the Extra only CW portions is about what I hear in the 3600 to 3700 KHz. SSB portion of 80 meters.  That is, just a few stations (be they CW or SSB) with lots of empty space comparied to what I hear in the non Extra only CW/digital sections of the band.  The old "Use it or loose it." should apply.  I never understood why the FCC gave so much of 80 meters to SSB.  Just doesn't make sense.

I know I will probably stir up a honets nest when I say this but if any mode should go away it probably should be RTTY.  There are new digital modes now available that do more with less and less error prone.  To me, RTTY is the digital equivalent of AM in the phone portions of the bands.  :-) 

Dave K3GAU 
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K7KBN
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« Reply #59 on: December 10, 2010, 10:04:47 PM »

As for the "CW can make more contacts" and "when nothing else can" crowd,  There are some of the digital modes that can have very good if not perfect copy when you can't even hear with your ears or see the signal on the waterfall. 
Best reguards,
Dave K3GAU         

Waterfall?  That implies a computer, I believe.  Why involve a computer when all you need besides a simple transmitter, receiver and antenna is a good pair of ears?

Best REGARDS...
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73
Pat K7KBN
CWO4 USNR Ret.
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