FCC Grants 60-day Waiver Permitting Pactor 4 Use for Disaster Relief

September 17, 2020 -- The FCC has granted ARRL's request for a temporary waiver to permit amateur data transmissions at a higher symbol rate than currently permitted by section 97.307(f) of the FCC amateur service rules. The FCC acted to facilitate hurricane and wildfire relief communications within the US and its territories.

ARRL sought the waiver for amateur radio licensees directly involved with hurricane and wildfire relief via HF using PACTOR 4 modems for communication within the US and its territories, relative to several impending hurricane situations and wildfires in the western US. ARRL's petition noted that Section 97.307(f) of the amateur rules prevents the use of PACTOR 4, a data protocol that permits relatively high-speed data transmission. ARRL also noted that past FCC temporary waivers have allowed this protocol during similar events. The waiver is limited to 60 days and is for use by amateurs involved in communications in support of US western wildfire relief and hurricane recovery.

The Winlink Team asks that all amateur RMS stations capable of operating on PACTOR 4 please enable this capability immediately, and disable it in 60 days.

Winlink Online Workshop Update

30 August 2020 -- The Winlink Workshop Series being held on SEC-ARES Zoom meetings now has an updated schedule. The WK6 session was postponed due to Hurricane Laura and will be held this Thursday, September 3rd at 0100Z. The link to the Zoom meeting is:
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/2128884758?pwd=ek1hWTVPVCtSeHJpVW5ORjdlY3dBUT09

Information on the series follows:

Winlink Workshop:
WK1-WK5 of Twelve-Week Zoom Series

This twelve-week series of Winlink Workshops is held each Thursday at 0100Z on Zoom.
Join the SEC-ARES group for announcements and discussions: https://groups.io/g/SEC-ARES
Please be sure to include your name and call sign when registering on SEC-ARES.
Dan, K7REX, is your host ([email protected]).

FCC Grants 30-Day Waiver to Allow Pactor 4 for Hurricane Laura Recovery

The FCC has granted an ARRL request for a 30-day waiver to facilitate relief communications in the wake of Hurricane Laura. The waiver temporarily permits amateur data transmissions at a higher symbol rate than currently permitted under the FCC’s rules. ARRL pointed out in its request that Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) members would be working with federal, state, and local emergency management officials to assist with disaster relief and may use radio modems capable of both PACTOR 3 and PACTOR 4 emissions. The higher data rates PACTOR 4 offers are critical to sending hurricane relief communications, including lists of needed and distributed supplies.

Section 97.307(f) limits the symbol rate — also known as the baud rate — for HF amateur radioteletype (RTTY) and data transmissions to 300 bauds for frequencies below 28 MHz (except on 60 meters), and 1200 bauds in the 10 meter band. “The digital code used to encode the signal being transmitted must be one of the codes specified in section 97.309(a) of the Commission’s rules, but an amateur station transmitting a RTTY or data emission using one of the specified digital codes may use any technique whose technical characteristics have been publicly documented, such as CLOVER, G-TOR, or PACTOR,” the FCC pointed out in granting the request.

In 2016, in response to an ARRL petition for rulemaking, the Commission proposed to remove the symbol rate limitations, which it tentatively concluded had become unnecessary due to advances in modulation techniques and no longer served a useful purpose. That proceeding, WT Docket 16-239, is still pending.

ARRL sought the waiver for radio amateurs directly involved with hurricane relief on HF using PACTOR 4. PACTOR 4 permits relatively high-speed data transmission, and the FCC has granted temporary waivers in the past to permit the use of this protocol in similar events.

“ARRL stands ready to assist the area potentially impacted by Hurricane Laura to conduct disaster relief communications,” the FCC said. “We conclude that granting the requested waiver is in the public interest. Hurricane Laura has the potential to cause massive destruction states along the Gulf of Mexico, and communications services will likely be disrupted.”

The waiver is limited to PACTOR 4 transmissions directly involved with HF hurricane relief communications.

Download the FCC order below. Published with ARRL Permission. Copyright ARRL.

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