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Author Topic: ARRL posts formal comments to FCC's request for information  (Read 7865 times)
N4UM
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Posts: 474




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« on: May 16, 2012, 07:56:57 AM »

The ARRL has posted formal comments to the FCCs request for information regarding the role of the amateur radio service in emergency communications and the effects of impediments to the amateur service.

Comments made by the ARRL are lengthy and quite detailed.  Although I have not been a member or fan of the ARRL ever since the "incentive licensing" debacle, I must confess that they have done a masterful job in their response to the FCC's request.

Anyone reading this Antenna Restrictions forum is encouraged to visit the link listed below and read the ARRL's detailed comments.

http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/document/view;jsessionid=Jp18Pz1BTQvnGnwq8Tpjgc1mJyQh432NSCSYFDL6sZLrJSNXFS1d!-1221852939!-1969853125?id=7021918167
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W1AGP
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« Reply #1 on: May 16, 2012, 08:36:17 AM »

Thank you.  A lot of people worked hard on it and thanks also to all the members who sent in good information and copies of the CC&R's they have to deal with.  While this goes to the FCC and then the FCC sends a summary report to Congress, and then Congress does Huh? - meaning that no one knows where things may end up - we see it as a major opportunity to help thousands of hams in the US who live under some very restrictive conditions that can change at the whim of a HOA group.
http://tinyurl.com/c63tw8s 

Allen
W1AGP
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WA8FOZ
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Posts: 192




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« Reply #2 on: May 16, 2012, 08:52:46 PM »

This is well done. I suspect that it will be a very long struggle - but let it begin.
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WS4E
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« Reply #3 on: May 18, 2012, 07:48:54 PM »

So..after readig the ARRL filing.

In summary are saying they want the FCC to reconsider the position that PRB-1 does not apply to CCR/HOA.  They say that this study that was conducted overwhelmingly proves the need to do so.

They submit the fact that the since the FCC already has asserted their authority over CCR/HOA contracts with the 1996 TV anteana regulations, this totally discredits any attempt by the FCC that they "can't" get involved with CCR/HOA issues.

So, I guess maybe the outcome of this will be the FCC relenting and asking congress to assert that 1985 PRB-1 applies to CCR/HOA, just as it does state and local governments.
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N4UM
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« Reply #4 on: May 19, 2012, 03:36:14 AM »

WS4E QUOTE - "So, I guess maybe the outcome of this will be the FCC relenting and asking congress to assert that 1985 PRB-1 applies to CCR/HOA, just as it does state and local governments."

That would be a good outcome but I suspect the FCC will simply do whatever the congress tells then to do.

I think that hams should now direct their efforts at influencing the congress on this matter.
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K7RBW
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« Reply #5 on: May 19, 2012, 08:34:03 AM »

I flipped through it and, to be honest, looks to me like their argument is based on a lot of inflated and unsubstantiated claims. I tried to look up news reports on some of the recent em comm events they cite and the only coverage I found was from hams or ham-related sites. If that's our evidence, it's not very compelling.

I'm on the hams' side and I don't see their response as particularly credible. When you have to inflate your claims, that means your claims aren't very substantial to begin with. But I think all of this stems from the faulty premise of being there "When all else fails." We really need to do better than that.

This argument starts with hams (to be fair, "some" hams) who want to be able to put up an antenna tower in their lots that are currently restricted due to zoning, CC&R, or some other restriction. The justification for this is that these hams want to be able to respond and provide radio communication support in an emergency (e.g. Hurricane Katrina) and a tower is necessary to provide that support (for when all else fails).

However, it seems to me that unless the tower installation is "industrial strength" or stronger, it would be destroyed by the same storm that knocks out all the commercial sites because it was outside like they were and, most likely, not installed to withstand a storm (because that's much more expensive). Worst case scenario, the tower falls over and takes out another house--one that would have survived had it not been for the tower. Sure some push-up towers might be a way to address this concern, but that's in the implementation details.

I'm not trying to be negative and contrary to battling with HOAs and CC&Rs, but it's easy to imagine such scenarios being on the minds of those who are responsible for keeping (or tightening) the antenna and tower restrictions. Their view is that the restrictions are necessary for the greater good (i.e. the whole neighborhood), and the majority of those in the neighborhood agree (as evidenced by the fact the antenna restrictions have stayed in place over all these years). A tower accommodation is seen as largely benefiting the ham and usually to the perceived immediate detriment to everyone else.

What seems to be missing in all these battles is a better (i.e. more plausible and persuasive) education campaign for the non-ham neighbors. I have to confess that for all the well intentioned NPRMs, Letters to Congress, and the like, I'm pessimistic that things will change much. There are simply many more of the non-hams and people who are not sympathetic to hams than there are hams and those who are sympathetic. And, I haven't seen a very compelling case for hams "saving the day." Just the occasional anecdote here and there. And, I'd submit, that's only because I'm listening and looking for them. The average non-ham just doesn't have that called out in their news/twitter/Facebook feed. Hence, it doesn't exist and, the fact is, no one would read it even if they saw it. I'd be curious to see what percentage of the 137 events listed in the report got any press coverage (from anyone who wasn't a ham). Not that hams need press coverage, but, the fact is, they need to be recognized by the community or they'll remain invisible.

The fundamental (and often unspoken) fact of the 21st century is that, at a national level, "When all else fails" just doesn't happen often enough for people to give it any weight. If it does happen, it only affects a small group for a short period of time (unless you live in Haiti, perhaps). Or, if not, that's the impression the general public gets from media coverage.

Also, don't forget, the government has an interest in showing how "all else DOESN'T fail," not that it does and Hams will be there to help (i.e. save the day). I'm curious how often that approach actually works (especially compared to the times it doesn't, although that might be harder to count). While such a line might appeal to a few hams, I think the ARRL might be better off with a more attractive tag line... for example, Hams--there when you need them! (not just when you have no other choice)

If your value is only realized "when all else fails," and the governments are there to make sure (ostensibly) that all else doesn't fail, you have no value to them or the citizens who believe the government will be there to save them. If the government is not there when needed, it's unlikely they'll say, "Gosh if only we'd had some ham radio operators..." It's much more likely, they'll say something like, "these tragic events clearly demonstrate that we just need more federal funding to improve our emergency response infrastructure."

So, if hams are going to be there to help, they need to be there to help, not just help by talking on a radio. This needs to be a visible community effort (e.g. ham clubs doing litter patrol on the freeway, ham clubs doing visible community service, etc.) Because, until you can get people to see and understand that ham radio is in it for the community and not just in it to erect their own ugly tower, I don't think you'll ever get much sympathy for a change to any zoning or CC&R.
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N4UM
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« Reply #6 on: May 19, 2012, 10:57:28 AM »

I agree about "When all else fails."  It curls my toes every time I read that expression and conjurs up HamSexyesque visions of fat old guys in callsign emblazened baseball caps wearing yellow vests with walkie talkies and twinkies jammed into multiple pockets.  The next thing you know, these wackers are gonna be wearing masks, leotards and capes!  God help us all if we have to depend on such individuals.  As you pointed out, the government is not crazy about admitting that their elaborate communications systems could fail.  I agree that we should get a new slogan - perhaps... "Hams, we're not the pigs you think we are." (tongue in cheek).

On the other hand, I don't see hams picking up litter or helping old ladies across the street.  I think our community activities should be specifically focused on communications, charity bike rides, running events, boating events and other community activities where communications assistance is genuinely helpful.

I've had hundred foot towers with big antennas and KW amps in the past and certainly wouldn't dream of trying to get away with that stuff in my present HOA location - even if I legally could!  I've had good luck working DX with a small clandestine flagpole in my backyard.  It does a lousy job for NVIS communications however.  My attic dipole is fine for transmitting NVIS but is too noisy to be useful for receiving.   I'd just like to be able to put up an 80 meter inverted vee with the apex at 30 feet and be able to work around the state.  That's the kind of "reasonable accomodation" I'd like to see.  I really don't think that's asking too much.

I don't think "reasonable accomodations" means that an antenna and it's supporting structure should be able to survive a class 5 hurricane.  I live in Florida where we get plenty of warning about approaching huricanes.  I have plenty of time to take down my "flagpole" and wouldn't dream of leaving it up in winds over 50 mph.  I think simple wire and vertical antennas are "reasonable."  I would exclude HF gain antennas such as tribanders etc.  A "reasonable antenna" need not survive in high winds but if it were to fail, should have little potential for doing serious damage to surrounding property. This would rule out towers that might damage neighbor's property if they were to fall.

I think if we expect others to make reasonable accomodations for amateur antennas we ourselves need to be reasonable in terms of what we are willing to accept.

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K7RBW
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« Reply #7 on: May 19, 2012, 03:58:37 PM »

Reasonable accommodations make perfect sense, however, reasonable is in the eye of the beholder and right now, Hams will need to be more accommodating than the neighbors because we are the ones who want to change the status quo. Coming in to a homeowners meeting with plans for a tower and  a note from congress is still not going to be well received.

That being said, if your tower isn't designed to survive a disaster, why is it the neighbors should welcome it with open arms? I see a problem where the ARRL is saying "we need big towers to enhance our ability to respond to an emergency" while Hams are saying their tower will probably fall over in a storm bu in the meantime they'll be working DX wih their new towers. I know there's some (tenuous) connection, but to the lay person, that looks like bait and switch and undermines the credibility of the emcomm argument.
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K5USF
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« Reply #8 on: May 23, 2012, 03:34:21 PM »

I would not expect anything reasonable to come out of Washington DC. Expect the opposite of what your want.  If the FCC does not have a desire to fix this issue, then they should stop licensing us at the federal level.  Most bureaucrats are scared of their own shadow, worried about building their kingdoms and, of course, their next promotion.
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W2TKW
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« Reply #9 on: May 23, 2012, 04:02:14 PM »

Why is everyone who has had a negative comment about this subject been focused upon towers that may or may not survive a "disaster".  What they are not considering is that even erecting a wire antenna is prohibited by the majority of the CC&Rs.  There is no reason why the FCC should not mandate that wire antennas are considered a "reasonable" accommodation and must be permitted.  Wire antennas by their nature have low visibility, containing less material than the satellite dishes they grudging allow.  Erecting a wire antenna should not requiring significant modifications to any structures, especially if the property has trees available.  Furthermore, in the event severe weather, wire antennas can be repaired quickly and re-erected with minimal fuss.

It not an issue of amateur operators wanting towers, it is one of amateur operators wanting to be able to do what amateur operators do, communicate with the world. Whether during an emergency or not let them!

Tim Worrell
W2TKW
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KF7CG
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« Reply #10 on: May 24, 2012, 03:58:46 AM »

One thing I have noticed is that everyone is so worried about what survives in the disaster zone. One must also consider the contribution to communications of those stations outside the zone.

How can you communicate out of a disaster area if no one on the outside has equipment good enough to receive your signal?

A tower on the outside, makes it easier for a wire on the inside. Then, who knows what will be inside and what will be outside.

David
KF7CG
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K5USF
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« Reply #11 on: May 24, 2012, 07:12:05 AM »

I believe the ARRL did a fine job on their response.  However, I also believe any action taken by the FCC will be politically driven and in the best interests of the FCC.  Hope I am wrong and they do the right thing.  73s..Jim
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AA4PB
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« Reply #12 on: May 24, 2012, 09:37:43 AM »

You've got to remember that at this point the only thing the FCC is mandated to do is to make a report to Congress. I don't think there are any rule changes on the table. Once the report has been made, it is up to Congress to take some type of action if they want to.

I think the best we can hope for is "reasonable accomodation" as we have now for local government regulation. Next we will have some HOA decide that a 20M wire dipole at 20 feet is not reasonable and so some judge will have to determine what is "reasonable". On the other side we have some hams that believe that a 100-foot tower with a stack of monobanders is "reasonable" on a 100 ft x 100 ft  development lot.

Perhaps the Congress can force the FCC to rethink their current position that CC&Rs are private agreements over which they have no control (unless of course it involves big money like OTARD).
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AI7AZ
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« Reply #13 on: May 25, 2012, 10:00:21 AM »

There is no reason why the FCC should not mandate that wire antennas are considered a "reasonable" accommodation and must be permitted.  Wire antennas by their nature have low visibility, containing less material than the satellite dishes they grudging allow. 

Exactly.  And the simple fact is this:  there are so many good wire-based HF antenna possibilities that we have NO excuse for demanding permission to put up towers in the typical suburban residential neighborhood.  I cringe every time I hear stories about fellow hams who have burned bridges with HOA boards by making outrageous antenna requests.

The back of my house is about 70 feet long.  All I'd want is permission to string up a multiband wire antenna (like a B&W) a few feet above the rear eave.  The antenna wouldn't even be visible from the front, and it would visually melt into the tile roof.  I'd be happy with "reasonable accommodation" -- at least it would mean the HOA board would be obligated to hear my case.

Steve, AI7AZ
Vail, AZ
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K1CJS
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« Reply #14 on: May 27, 2012, 05:24:43 AM »

After reading through this and seeing the points that have been made, I don't think any major changes prohibiting CC&Rs from forbidding antenna will be on the horizon.  The only thing I suspect will come out of this will be that the FCC will say that CC&Rs have no right to prohibit radio communications--as some of them do.  Stealth antennas and the antennas that are 'portable' may also be allowed no matter what the CC&Rs say, but I don't see the FCC stepping in and saying that any antenna structure will be allowable.
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