FCC Extends Waiver Permitting Use of PACTOR 4 for Hurricane Relief Efforts

The FCC has extended by 1 week an emergency waiver request from ARRL to permit radio amateurs actively engaged in Hurricane Dorian response and relief efforts to use the PACTOR 4 digital protocol on HF.

“We conclude that granting the requested waiver is in the public interest,” the FCC said in an Order released September 6. “Hurricane Dorian has caused — and is likely to continue to cause — substantial damage in the southeast United States, and communications services will be disrupted. Thus, to accommodate Amateur Radio operators assisting in the recovery efforts, we grant ARRL’s waiver request until September 13, 2019. The waiver is limited to Amateur Radio operators using PACTOR 4 emissions in the continental United States who are directly involved with HF hurricane relief communications.”

The FCC said the waiver grant was without prejudice to the resolution of the pending rulemaking proceeding, WT Docket 16-239, initiated by ARRL. The rule making proceeding stemmed from ARRL’s request to have the FCC delete the symbol rate limit in §97.307(f).

A waiver is necessary because §97.307(f) limits digital data emissions of Amateur stations operating below 28 MHz to a symbol rate not to exceed 300 bauds, and in the 10-meter band (28.0 – 28.3 MHz) to a symbol rate not to exceed 1200 bauds. PACTOR 4 has a symbol rate of 1800 bauds. ARRL has dispatched communications equipment to carry out disaster relief communication, noting that PACTOR 4’s higher data rates are critical for hurricane relief communications.

The waiver extension only applies to radio amateurs directly involved in the hurricane relief efforts involving the US mainland. It does not extend to non-emergency communications.

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