Friday, October 01, 2010

40m bandplan confusion

Peter, G4NKX, uncovered a can of worms the other day after encountering some unpleasantness by CW users in what has traditionally been the PSK segment of 40m starting at 7.035MHz. It appears that the 40m band plan in IARU Region 1 (Europe) has been changed, but nobody has been told, including the website which still has copies of the old band plan coming up top in Google searches for "IARU Region 1 Bandplan".

Under the current European band plan for 40m, CW now has free reign up to 7.040MHz, with narrow band digimodes from 7.040 to 7.050. So the start of PSK31 operation is now presumably 7.040MHz. However the bright sparks who sit in their ivory towers and decide this sort of thing clearly forgot about the real world in which people don't find out about something unless it is shoved under their noses. People will operate where they hear other people operating, which creates a very powerful inertia against any form of change. These band plan changes came into effect on 29th March 2009, yet people are still in ignorance of them 18 months later. Where was the letter from the national society to each licensed amateur, informing them of the changes?

But more to the point, why change? It's just a recipe for chaos and an opportunity for the band police to cause unpleasantness, just for the sake of an extra 5KHz for CW operators. It also now means that digital mode users in Europe must use a different part of the spectrum to those in the USA, making transatlantic digital DX impossible without incurring the wrath of the policemen. Frankly, I don't blame PSK31 users for staying where they were and refusing to be shunted around by bandplan changes that don't give them any benefits.

I'm somewhat confused about what the 40m USA bandplan is. The document on the IARU website for Region 2 shows narrow band digital modes starting at 7.035MHz. But I thought people in the USA operated PSK31 starting at 7.070MHz and other narrow band modes like JT65A at 7.075MHz? No wonder I have never heard any Stateside DX on digital.

Radio waves don't stop at IARU regional boundaries so what is the point in having bandplans that put digital modes in different parts of the band in different regions? It just goes to prove that the powers that be who make these decisions think the only modes that matter are SSB and CW.
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