HF Digital Mode Band Plan Review

Because fre­quen­cy allo­ca­tions and ama­teur radio oper­at­ing inter­ests vary in dif­fer­ent parts of the world, the devel­op­ment of band plans – vol­un­tary guide­lines on the use of the spec­trum that is avail­able to radio ama­teurs – is a respon­si­bil­i­ty of the three IARU region­al orga­ni­za­tions. Each of the three Regions has a band plan­ning com­mit­tee to focus on this work. In recent years there have been increased efforts to bring the region­al band plans into align­ment wher­ev­er pos­si­ble. Final approval of band plan revi­sions is gen­er­al­ly giv­en by the region­al con­fer­ences of IARU mem­ber-soci­eties that are held every three years on a rotat­ing basis.

This approach to band plan­ning gen­er­al­ly has kept pace with the evo­lu­tion of ama­teur radio oper­at­ing. How­ev­er, the explo­sive growth in HF (below 30 MHz) dig­i­tal modes, par­tic­u­lar­ly FT8, has led to per­ceived over­crowd­ing of HF dig­i­tal mode band seg­ments.  Accord­ing­ly, a work­ing group has been formed con­sist­ing of rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the three region­al band plan­ning com­mit­tees. This is the first time the three Regions have joined togeth­er to direct­ly coor­di­nate band plan­ning efforts.

The work­ing group has already had fruit­ful dis­cus­sions with the WSJT Devel­op­ment Group led by Joe Tay­lor, K1JT. Addi­tion­al dis­cus­sions, includ­ing with oth­er HF stake­hold­ers, will be held as part of a fun­da­men­tal review of the dif­fer­ent HF dig­i­tal modes, and how they can be best cat­e­go­rized and arranged to share the lim­it­ed spec­trum available.

The main aim is to devel­op solu­tions that reduce con­ges­tion with­in very pop­u­lar mode seg­ments while pre­vent­ing mutu­al inter­fer­ence between incom­pat­i­ble modes to the great­est extent pos­si­ble.  While the pro­posed band plan revi­sions will have to be approved by mem­ber-soci­eties in each Region, recent admin­is­tra­tive changes mean that the changes can be imple­ment­ed with­out hav­ing to wait for the region­al conferences.

Ama­teurs are encour­aged to fol­low progress through their IARU mem­ber-soci­ety and the respec­tive IARU web­sites, all of which can be reached via

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