Monday, March 28, 2011

Amateur Radio and HR 607

The ARRL and AMSAT have recently pointed out that a bill before the House of Representatives would adversely affect frequencies used by amateur radio. The video below describes the ARRL's stance and what you can do. Scroll down for links to a template letter for your representative and the address to send it to.

A sample letter can be downloaded from:
ARRL Sample Letter

For those without Microsoft Word, the letter is copied below.

You can send your letter to the ARRL's Washington Representative:

John Chwat
Chwat & Co.
625 Slaters Lane
Suite 103
Alexandria, VA 22314

who will expedite its delivery to your representative.

=========================Copy of sample letter===============================

The Honorable ____________________
United States House of Representatives
______________ House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Representative ________:

As a voter in your district and as one of the nearly 700,000 federally licensed Amateur Radio operators across the nation, I ask that you oppose H.R. 607, the "Broadband for First Responders Act of 2011" in its current form. H.R. 607 was introduced by Congressman Peter King (R-NY) and referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

H.R. 607 proposes to allocate the "D-Block" of frequencies (frequencies previously occupied by analog television) to be developed into an interoperable Public Safety wireless network. Earlier, it had been expected that the D-Block would be auctioned by the FCC for commercial use, but there is now substantial support for the allocation of the D-Block to Public Safety. H.R. 607 also provides for the reallocation of other spectrum for auction to commercial users, in order to offset the loss of revenue anticipated by the auction of the D-Block.

While I strongly support the work of the Public Safety officials who put their lives on the line for our safety, my opposition to the bill stems from the inclusion of the 420-440 MHz spectrum (the UHF 70-cm band) as part of a frequency swap and auction. Very little of this spectrum is allocated to Public Safety, and only in very limited areas. Rather, it is allocated to government radiolocation services on a primary basis, with Amateur Radio allocated on a secondary basis. The Federal government uses this band for critical defense purposes, including Pave Paws radars for detecting surface-launched missiles aimed at the United States, and for airborne radars used for drug interdiction. The Amateur Service carefully coordinates its uses of this band to insure compatibility. The two services have a very good record of sharing this spectrum successfully, putting it to good use for both military and civilian purposes in the national interest.

Amateur radio emergency communication relies heavily on our limited frequency allocations in the VHF and UHF radio bands. The loss of access to the 420-440 MHz spectrum would make it very difficult for us to maintain this capability and would mean we could no longer use numerous systems that have been constructed on our own time and at personal expense to provide this important communications support.

Amateur Radio operators across the country repeatedly demonstrate our commitment to public service and emergency communications. Through our work with FEMA and other Homeland Security activities, state and local Emergency Management offices, and numerous charitable relief agencies, volunteer Amateur Radio operators assist the first responders, doing so at no cost to the agencies we support. The role of the Amateur Radio Service as a partner to Public Safety in providing supporting public service and emergency communications necessitates our retention of full access to the entire 70-cm band.

As an Amateur, I understand and support that Public Safety officials must have the spectrum they need to do their jobs. However, it is not necessary to do so in the ill-conceived manner proposed in this bill. Other pending legislation provides for this important goal to be realized without the proposed reallocation of non-Public Safety spectrum for commercial auction that is included in H.R. 607. I urge you to oppose H.R. 607 in its current form. Thank you for your consideration.

[Your Name]
[Your Address]

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