5 MHz Band Plan?

Discussion in 'C4 - HF Matters' started by G4FSU, Dec 3, 2015.

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  1. G4FSU

    G4FSU Moderator

    Several countries have recently obtained access to various parts of 5 MHz and a favourable outcome at WRC-15 will permanently allocate a 15 kHz slither of spectrum from 5351.5 - 5366.5 MHz to the amateur service.

    There will undoubtably be proposals from various societies at the Interim meeting for suggestions on band planning. The RSGB will have a stronger voice if we also present a proposal.

    1. Do we need a band plan at 5 MHz?

    2. How do we band plan widely differing allocations, from a few channels to >100kHz bands that some countries have?

    3. Should the 15 kHz segment have a few (how many?) nominal USB frequencies? For example 5354, 5357, 5360, 5363 kHz, leaving top and bottom of the segment for other narrow band / weak signal modes?

    4. Should the band be segmented by mode?

    5. What other possibilities exist to make best use of the 5MHz amateur allocation?

    For reference, the current RSGB guidance on 5 MHz is at:

    http://rsgb.org/main/operating/band-plans/hf/5mhz/

    This has been developed from activity over the last couple of years and includes some guidance on frequencies based on current usage, also with some attempt to ensure compatibility with other countries' allocations.

    The expectation is that the current UK allocation will not change anytime in the near future. It may be possible at some point to re-jiggle the segments somewhat to include the new allocation, but this is by no means certain.

    73 Ian G4FSU
    RSGB HF Manager
  2. G0FTD

    G0FTD New Member

    15Khz to accommodate a whole planet's radio amateurs on an agreed basis
    is gonna mean forgetting everythings that has ever come before with band planning.

    So for me it's simple.

    You've got 15Khz and a low power limit. So use it to it's best ability and make
    a preference for ultra weak signal data modes first, and phone operations secondary.

    Examples:

    QRSS / WSPR / OPERA
    It's usual to employ very low power on these modes, often lower than 1 watt.
    This achieves global monitoring and study of propagation with automation included.
    This really is where we could probably totally outshine the professionals here, because
    there's superb resources available via psk reporter and WSPR, and the QRSS grabber
    networks, bringing even better data analysis than before.

    They also have a VERY low contention ratio and VERY minimal risk of interference
    to the amateur service and primary users.
    In fact, you could fit the worlds 5Mhz
    amateur population for all three modes in less than 500Hz, so there's no excuse
    not to encourage this. (Yes, half a kilohertz!). Bearing all these points, especially
    the ridiculously low interference potential and that it's now an agreed amateur band,
    can be get some form of unattended operations agreed. The world has moved on and it's
    about time the archaic attitudes about this did to.


    Real time operations best suited for low power - CW and PSK31.

    Leave phone operations and higher power to the other frequencies that local
    administrations have permitted, otherwise that 15Khz is going to turn into a
    complete joke.

    73 de Andy G0FTD
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  3. DrTeeth

    DrTeeth New Member

    If Holland can have a 100KHz allocation that must be able to cause interference to the primary user in the UK, I'd press for a contiguous allocation in the UK rather than bothering with the 'channelised' allocation we have at present. The 15KHz allocation, whilst kudos to our reps at WARC 15, is an insult. As we will not be losing our channels anytime soon, Ofcom can afford to be more generous.
    Chris G3XVL likes this.
  4. Chris G3XVL

    Chris G3XVL New Member

    After working several Dutch stations on CW on about 5363 kHz, I get called by someone (on CW)who wouldnt reveal his call when challenged to be told "Why not try CW calling 260 here PSK band" But from the Dutch side of things this is the lowest part of the 60m band so by usual planning is the CW end ! Solution= we need the same allocation as the Dutch please!
    73 Chris G3XVL
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  5. Richard Lamont

    Richard Lamont New Member

    A few preliminary thoughts:

    1. It seems to me that the new WRC-15 band adds little to what regulators could do and in several cases were already doing under Article 4.4 of the Radio Regulations. Out of that 15 kHz, in the UK we can already use 8.5 kHz and with 100 Watts. Over a dozen countries can use all of it. The fact that this secondary allocation will be added to the frequency table in the edition of the Radio Regulations that takes effect from 1 Jan 2017 may I suppose nudge some national regulators into granting their amateurs a band for the first time, but it doesn't compel them to. If they want to do it, they can do it already under Article 4.4. Either way it's a secondary, non-interference thing so ISTM it won't make much difference.

    2. Much of the lobbying for this band, at WRC-15 and elsewhere, was on the pretext of NVIS and emergency comms. We shouldn't lose sight of that as the 'politics' will remain important for some years in order to get the band established in more countries. With a power limit of 100W or less, the band is mainly useful in providing relatively reliable, daytime, single-hop links. It shouldn't be focussed on working DX, although that will be possible with (e.g.) CW and PSK-31. There won't be the bandwidth or power available for much if any SSB DX.

    3. In years gone by, CW was allowed anywhere in bandplans on the grounds that it was a fallback mode that could get through when others had failed. This is no longer true because (a) it is out-performed by several weak-signal digital modes, and (b) amateurs on HF no longer have to learn Morse. CW is just one mode among many, without any significant USP that justifies it being allowed everywhere.

    4. The notion of 'listen before transmit' depends on manual operation of equipment, dependent on the ears of a human radio operator. The notion of a 'radio operator' is, at least in a professional context, something of an anachronism. Perhaps as amateurs we should try to think more like engineers and less like operators. Somehow I feel this must be relevant but don't know quite why!

    The bandplan:

    Using the same numbering as Ian's original post:

    1. In my opinion, yes, we need a bandplan.

    2. The issue is complex and will need lengthy negotiation among IARU member societies with multiple iterations, not just a single meeting. It may be necessary to introduce a new process to facilitate this. Perhaps set up some sort of international 5 MHz working group to exchange information and ideas and try to thrash out a plan which could be submitted jointly by several societies to the formal IARU meeting.

    3. As far as the WRC-15 band goes, I think it would be fairest to consider it from the viewpoint of countries that have only that 15 kHz 'slither'. They might say narrow modes only, they might say it's primarily for NVIS emergency comms, implying SSB. At this stage, we don't even know which countries we're talking about, let alone what they might say. I'm guessing the result will be a compromise. If SSB is included here, it should be on spot frequencies in 3 kHz channels and definitely not 'VFO'.

    4. I would prefer to have separate sections for CW, data modes and SSB. CW and SSB operators are already causing each other a fair amount of grief and they need separating.

    5. The fact that different countries have different allocations isn't necessarily a disadvantage. For example, we have 71 kHz of bandwidth in 11 bandlets. The Netherlands has got a 100 kHz band. However, only the top five UK bandlets (30 kHz) overlap the Dutch band. The six low UK bandlets (41 kHz) are not available to Holland. So between us we have access to 141 kHz of bandwidth, some suitable for inter-G, some suitable for inter-PA, and some suitable for G-PA. The bandplan could exploit this by recommending that inter-G activity makes use of frequencies below 5350 if available, and that inter-PA activity makes use of frequencies above 5406.5 kHz if available, leaving the shared bits in the middle freer for international QSOs and as an 'overflow' if the high and low bits are full up. This is of course a simplification because there are other countries too.

    Richard G4DYA
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  6. DrTeeth

    DrTeeth New Member

    The 'listen before transmit' might not work as well as many think. I am in a poor QTH radio-wise, and I am sure I would be able to block stations I cannot hear.
  7. G4FSU

    G4FSU Moderator

    Thanks for all the comments so far. Some good points. I'll try to summarise, along with my own views:

    We've asked many times for a contiguous allocation at 5MHz, The best we've been able to do is the current 71.5kHz of non-contiguous spectrum; not ideal but an improvement on the 7 fixed frequencies we had before. It's not Ofcom that calls the shots at 5MHz, it's the MoD (primary user), so no good demanding more of Ofcom (that doesn't work anyway!). We may be able to ask for a re-shuffle of the frequencies to encompass the new secondary allocation, which comes into effect in 2017. The danger is it may be at the loss of some of our existing segments. But the real advantage of the 15kHz allocation, small though it is, is that it justifies our continued access to the band. Had we not succeeded at WRC-15, we may very well have lost 5MHz all together in a few years time.

    A few countries have 200kHz of spectrum (5250-5450kHz), some 100kHz, many more only a few fixed frequencies. That alone makes band planning a real challenge.

    Continuing with my number scheme:

    1. I think we do need a band plan for the new 15kHz segment at the very least. I would like to see a 'flexible' (i.e. exceptions may occur) band plan for the new 15kHz segment as this will eventually be in use world wide. So I think there has to be agreed narrow band and weak signal segments that are free of SSB activity, and some SSB frequencies within the 5351.5 - 5366.5kHz segment.

    2. Outside of the new band, I think the current status quo will prevail - that means no specific band plan, but certain frequencies will be used for certain activities. And there will probably be some squabbles from time to time, but that happens on other bands also. I notice our frequencies below 5350 are far less occupied than the frequencies above - so these are perfect for intra-UK QSOs and more experimental activities. Frequencies like 5371.5 and 5403.5 will probably always be used for multi-mode activity. CW and SSB are both very common on 5403.5kHz. As to some stations saying 'this is the digital segment, CW segment' or whatever, there is no band plan, there is no 'whatever' segment. It's simple, if the frequency is in use, pick another.

    3. As I suggested in the top post, my feeling was to try and identify some SSB (but not exclusive) frequencies in the 5351.5-5366.5kHz segment, but leave space at the top & bottom free for narrow band & weak signal modes. I picked 5357kHz as an anchor as it already is used by many countries as a fixed frequency (unfortunately not in the UK). So 5354kHz, and 5360kHz fall either side of that. 5363kHz is a possibility. That leaves 2.5kHz at the bottom for narrow band modes and 500Hz at the top for weak signal. By weak signal I mean WSPR, JT9, maybe QRSS CW + others - but emphasis on weak signal and narrow band. CW can be anywhere, but preferred would be towards the bottom of the band. By defining the top & bottom of the band, there is space, with some cooperation, for 3 or 4 SSB QSOs. I suspect some operators will prefer nominal USB frequencies and others will hate it, but it doesn't take very long to tune VFO through 15kHz! So whilst it may be perfectly OK for an operator to call CQ on 5358.284, it's just not very sociable.

    4. I agree there should be separation of some modes. The problem is we can't have a frequency for every mode, there isn't room. What I've noticed on the other bands is that HF band plans only work effectively if they are truly world wide - as we know, RF doesn't stop at country or ITU boundaries. CW, WSPR, JT9, PSK need a common watering hole. We've seen what happens on 10MHz and 3.5MHz for example when the band plans differ across regions - they get ignored.

    Here's a template to discuss:

    5351.5 CW
    5353.0 All modes, Digi
    5354.0 All modes, USB 5354
    5357.0 All modes, USB 5357, existing today
    5360.0 All modes, USB 5360
    5363.0 All modes, USB 5363
    5366.0 Weak signal modes, narrow band (obviously)
    5366.5

    This deliberately separates weak signal modes from other digital modes, which seems to be an increasing requirement & I've noticed it's creating some conflict on other bands - maybe we can fix it here?
    This roughly fits 3 or 4 CW QSOs, 3 or 4 SSB QSOs, several digi QSOs (depends on mode, not RTTY!) quite a few WSPR, JT9 (maybe not JT65) QSOs. It's tight, isn't it?

    But the principle behind this is there is a CW watering hole, a weak signal segment, a few SSB frequencies that are truly global.

    I think central to this has to be the agreement that you don't use this segment if you don't have to. Use the other frequencies allocated under 4.4 for rag chewing, experimenting, AM, special interest nets, etc. This is primarily for countries that have no other allocation and for international QSOs where other frequencies cannot be used.

    And on top of all this, it's only a secondary allocation. If a stonking great primary data transmission wipes out half the band, as we have seen on 5MHz, it's tough!

    Thanks again for the inputs, please keep them coming.

    73 Ian G4FSU
  8. G0FTD

    G0FTD New Member

    I've read what Ian FSU as said, and agree.
    With so many countries at different starting blocks the whole thing is a bit of a spectrum engineering poop fest.

    Try and plan for the 15Khz, but as Ian said, there will no doubt be squabbles.
    With so much disparity as to what each country will have it's gonna be like herding cats.

    Maybe best to just let everyone sort themselves out the best they can.
    When I first started amateur radio I realised that each band has it's own flavour, 5Mhz is gonna taste bitter sweet ;-)

    But for the future, when it comes to non contiguous allocations - never again please, I'd rather stay channelised.

    Good luck.

    73 de Andy
  9. M0LEP

    M0LEP New Member

    If there's any mention of SSB then it would be a good idea to make it clear USB (not LSB) is expected to be used on 5MHz...
  10. G3YMC

    G3YMC Member

    I expect I am not alone in thinking that we are getting rather ahead of ourselves in talking about bandplans for this new allocation. Especially since here in the UK, and I guess many other countries, our allocations won't change much apart from some retweaking around the WRC segment after 2017. We should also bear in mind the situation on 136kHz and 472kHz where there has been talk of bandplans for many years, and although there are accepted usage patterns there is still no official IARU bandplan (the current bandplans just imply we can operate any mode anywhere within the allocation.
    When we know how those countries that at the moment have no allocation are going to implement the new segment and the how those with allocations are going to adjust we may be in a position to define something - if it is needed, and I would answer your question 1. as NO, we do not need a bandplan.

    As for your proposal, if we followed the practice on other bands then there would be 5kHz for CW, 2kHz for data and 8kHz for SSB. There does seem to be rather a high prominence to SSB and a reluctance to move away from channelised SSB. It is good that we in the UK have plenty of room elsewhere for CW, it seems almost forgotten in your bandplan.
  11. Paul Gaskell G4MWO

    Paul Gaskell G4MWO New Member

    Very interesting food for thought, Ian. In the interim has there been any discussion about 5 MHz beacons? I know that there is at least one national society talking about where in the new allocation to move their beacons
  12. Petr M0SIS

    Petr M0SIS New Member

    Hi Ian,
    very nice proposal. Just 2p add:
    5351.5 CW only
    5366.5 CW only
    ...as high USB occupation can be expected on "All modes, USB channels.
    In any case many thanks for your kind effort.

    Paul what do you think about it please?
    73 Petr, M0SIS
  13. Petr M0SIS

    Petr M0SIS New Member

    ...or even better the "5kHz for CW, 2kHz for data and 8kHz for SSB" proposal sounds good to me also.
    73 Petr, M0SIS
  14. g6jyb

    g6jyb Moderator Staff Member

    Band Plan: For info - the RSGB paper submitted last week just before the IARU deadline is below. As you can see it sticks closely to the original suggestion, but stresses that other freqs under ITU-RR4.4 (as we have) should be exploited to avoid overloading the 15k. Am sure other national societies will contribute ideas, so its only the start (all papers are due to be available later in February).

    Beacons: Unfortunately we submitted our paper before we saw the news about other 5 MHz beacons which Paul mentions. However we and the Region-1 HF Chairman share a similar view - no beacons in the 15k (which would also be in breach of IARU policy regarding beacons below 10 MHz in any case)

    regards

    Murray G6JYB

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