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Default ARRL Legislative Update Newsletter - Issue 2

Legislative Update - Issue # 2

March 2, 2011

ARRL - 225 Main Street - Newington, CT 06111

Edited by Dan Henderson, N1ND, ARRL Regulatory Information Manager

House Bill 607 Threatens Amateur Radio Spectrum

On February 10, 2011, Rep. Peter King (R-NY), Chairman of the House
Homeland Security Committee, introduced H.R. 607, the "Broadband for
First Responders Act of 2011," which has been referred to the House
Energy and Commerce Committee (which handles telecommunications
legislation). The bill addresses certain spectrum management issues
including the creation and maintenance of a nationwide Public Safety
broadband network. As part of that network, the Bill provides for the
allocation of the so-called "D-Block" of frequencies in the 700 MHz
range for Public Safety use.

The "D-Block" consists of two, 5 megahertz-wide segments of spectrum
(758-763 and 788-793 MHz) that became available when the FCC ended
analog television broadcasts in June 2009 and reallocated the 698-806
MHz band for Public Safety and commercial broadband. It was initially
expected the D-Block would be auctioned for commercial use. However,
there are now several Bills in Congress providing for the allocation of
the D-Block for Public Safety use. H.R. 607 is one of those bills.
However, H.R. 607 uniquely provides for the reallocation of other
spectrum for auction to commercial users in order to offset the loss of
revenue that would occur as the result of the allocation of the D-Block
to Public Safety instead of commercial auction. Among the bands to be
reallocated for commercial auction within ten years of the passage of
H.R. 607 are the paired bands 420-440 MHz and 450-470 MHz.

"Of serious concern to the ARRL is the inclusion of the 420-440 MHz
Amateur allocation in the list of frequencies to be cleared for
auction," said ARRL Regulatory Information Manager Dan Henderson, N1ND.
"The ARRL and the Amateur Radio community certainly support the work of
public safety agencies and understand their desire for an interoperable
network. However, the inclusion of most of the Amateur 70-cm spectrum as
one of the replacement bands is illogical and unacceptable. The 420-440
MHz band is not Public Safety spectrum and should never have been
included in any spectrum swap of Public Safety allocations."

"The ARRL Washington team has already begun meeting with key
Congressional staff on Capitol Hill," Henderson continued. "We share
the 70-cm band on a secondary basis with the governmental radiolocation
services, such as the PAVE PAWS radar systems. The 70-cm band is a
critical and irreplaceable resource for Amateur Radio public service and
emergency communications. The Amateur Satellites operating on this band
would become unusable. Weak-signal operators would be forced to migrate
to the remaining 440-450 MHz spectrum already occupied by repeaters. The
inclusion of the 420-440 MHz band in this legislation is ill conceived.
To be sure, ARRL will vigorously oppose this legislation in its present
form. It is, as evidenced by other legislation, unnecessary to the
creation of a nationwide Public Safety broadband network or the use by
Public Safety of the D-Block for that purpose."

H.R. 607 is presently cosponsored by the Homeland Security Committee's
Ranking Member, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) as well as Reps. Shelley
Berkley (D-NV), Yvette Clarke (D-NY), Keith Ellison (D-MN), James
Langevin (D-RI) Billy Long (R-MO), Candice S. Miller (R-MI), Laura
Richardson (D-CA), Mike Rogers (R-AL), and Michael Grimm (R-NY). ARRL
President Kay Craigie, N3KN has written to Chairman King and to each
co-sponsor to explain why the ARRL opposes H.R. 607 in its current form.

A Message from ARRL President Kay Craigie, N3KN

"Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty." This famous statement has
been attributed to Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, Abraham Lincoln,
Patrick Henry, and various other American statesmen. No matter who
actually coined the phrase long ago, we Amateur Radio operators can
apply it today in a different context and say, "eternal vigilance is the
price of spectrum."

Thanks to the vigilance of the League's Washington team, we spotted the
provision in H.R. 607 that would deprive Amateurs of access to the
420-440 MHz band. Work began immediately to organize opposition to the
legislation in its present form.

I have written to my own Congressman from Virginia. As President of the
League, I have also written to Representative King of New York, who
introduced H.R. 607, and the current co-sponsors detailing the ARRL's
objections to this provision in the bill.

As head of the League's Washington team - and it is a good team - I want
you to understand that we cannot successfully advocate for spectrum
protection by ourselves. The ARRL Headquarters Staff and the volunteer
Board of Directors cannot do it by themselves, either. Your letters to
your legislators on Capitol Hill are the essential key to success. You,
as a member of the ARRL, must step up and respectfully tell your
Representative that H.R. 607 in its present form is the wrong way to go.

You may be thinking, "I don't operate on 440. What does this have to do
with me?" Here is the answer. Whether or not you operate on that
particular band is irrelevant. The entire Amateur Radio Service relies
on our spectrum allocations as a whole. When spectrum is on the line, we
forget about our particular personal interests and work together as one
Amateur Radio Service, indivisible.


Kay Craigie N3KN

President, ARRL

Sample Letter Opposing H.R. 607 Available On the ARRL Web

ARRL members can find a sample letter opposing H.R. 607 in its current
form at:

On that page you will also find links showing contact information for
your Member of the House of Representatives as well as information on
sending your letter to the ARRL's Washington legislative relations firm
of Chwat & Co.

ARRL members should send their signed letters to Chwat & Co. for hand
delivery to Congress. This personal contact provides our Washington
team an opportunity for a face-to-face meeting with key staff in each
Congressional office when a delivery is made - giving our team the
chance to lobby for our position.

Questions & Answers: H.R. 607 - What Are The Key Points?

Q. Why is the ARRL opposing H.R. 607?

A. The answer is straightforward: In its current form, it would remove
Amateur Radio from the majority of the 70-cm band (420-440 MHz) and
require that spectrum be auctioned for commercial use.

Q. Does opposing H.R. 607 send the wrong message about ARRL and Amateur
Radio supporting Public Safety communications?

A. Simply put, no. The ARRL and Amateur Radio have been and remain
strong supporters of Public Safety communications. We recognize their
need for spectrum and do not oppose them using the so-called "D-Block"
for their needs. Our opposition to this bill in its current form is
based solely on the inappropriate and illogical inclusion of the 420-440
MHz band as part of a swap of Public Safety spectrum, which this band is

Q. I thought 420-440 MHz was allocated to governmental radiolocation
services, like the PAVE PAWS radar systems.

A. You are correct - the primary designated user is radiolocation
services. Amateur Radio is allocated on a secondary user basis to the
70-cm band. One of the reasons this bill seems odd is that the 420-440
MHz frequencies are not allocated for Public Safety communications.

Q. To whom should I send letters opposing H.R. 607?

A. At this time we are requesting letters be sent to your member of the
US House of Representatives. We are not asking for letters to members
of the US Senate at this time, as legislation requiring the frequency
swap is not currently being considered by that body.

Q. What should I tell my member of Congress when I contact them?

A. First and foremost, be polite. Express your concerns in a
professional manner. Say that while you do not oppose the Public Safety
services being assigned the D-Block allocation for their needs, you do
oppose H.R. 607 in its current form because of the specific designation
of the 420-440 MHz Amateur Radio allocation as one of the frequencies
targeted in the "frequency swap".

Second, point out that the 420-440 MHz frequencies are not currently
designated for Public Safety communications. Rather, they are assigned
on a primary basis for governmental radiolocation purposes with Amateur
Radio being allocated to the band on a secondary basis.

Third, briefly (no more than one short paragraph) explain that the
420-440 MHz frequencies are one of the most-used pieces of spectrum by
Amateurs in our support of Public Safety communications and services.
Losing that portion of spectrum will severely limit the Amateur Service
from providing efficient communications in support of our neighborhoods,
local emergency management agencies, and public service agencies.

Although emergency and public service communications are the 70-cm
activities most easily understood by members of Congress and the general
public, the ARRL is keenly aware that other important amateur operations
take place in the 420-440 MHz segment. Don't hesitate to tell your
Representative - keeping it brief and in layman's language - about those
other activities. For example, if you operate via the Amateur Radio
Satellites on 70-cm, point out that these expensive spacecraft created
by and for Amateurs cannot be retuned to other frequencies. If you are
a weak signal operator, note the scientific importance of what we learn
about radio propagation at UHF through access to this frequency

Finally, thank your Representative for considering what you have to say
and directly ask them to oppose H.R. 607 in its current form or any
other legislation that would reduce the limited amount of spectrum
allocated to use by the Amateur Radio Service.

A Message from ARRL Regulatory Information Manager Dan Henderson, N1ND

Within the first week of the initial request for ARRL members to contact
their Representative to oppose H.R. 607 in its current form, almost
1,000 letters were received at Chwat & Co, our Washington legislative
relations firm. That is a great start and many thanks to the diligent
members who have risen to the challenge. However, it cannot stop there.
As long as H.R. 607 is in its current form, we must continue this

One of the most frequently asked questions I receive is "Why does the
ARRL ask us to funnel our letters to Congress through Chwat & Co.? Why
can't I send my letter directly to my Representative? Trust me when I
say I understand your concern and firmly believe the more input members
of Congress receive either for or against an issue from their
constituents, the better the public interest is served. However, using
the services of Chwat & Co. has many advantages that help the ARRL
further its legislative agenda. The most important part of our system is
that hand-delivery of constituent letters to a Congressional office
provides the opportunity for us to have a face-to-face meeting with key
staff of your Member of Congress -- an opportunity to make our point

I have been asked to share a few reminders with those sending letters.
These are important points to remember. Unfortunately, several dozen
letters received by Chwat & Co. are not usable for a variety of reasons.
A few have been received supporting bills that the ARRL supported in
previous sessions but have no bearing on H.R. 607. Bill numbers change
in subsequent Congresses, as do the issues being addressed. Reminder
number one: Please make sure your letter is addressing the correct
issue. (Do not "dust off" one that you previously sent - it will not
help with the current problem.)

While we all look for "easy" ways to express ourselves to our
Representatives, a letter sent without a signature carries little weight
when Congressional staffs begin assessing support or opposition to a
bill. Though many members of Congress have websites where constituents
can simply fill out a web page form to share their thoughts with their
representative, such web forms have only limited usefulness in lobbying
on a specific issue. The fact that a constituent makes the effort to
sign a letter personally - then sends it in via fax, regular US Mail, or
by scanning the signed letter into a PDF then emailing it - has a far
greater impact than an unsigned email or web-based form. Reminder number
two: Please make sure your letter carries your signature. It does make
a difference!

Several letters received at Chwat & Co. were addressed to the wrong
person. For example there were several letters addressed to Senator
Boxer, but began with "Dear Representative Boxer" - an incorrect title.
Also, at this time we are not asking letters be sent to members of the
Senate - only to your representative in the US House. In our eagerness
to help, we sometimes overlook some of the basics, like grammar, proper
form of address, and the like. Reminder number three: Please proof read
your letter several times to ensure it is accurate. This should include
all names, addresses, and salutations as well as any comments / edits
you may add to our form letter. Read the final letter out loud to
yourself several times before sending to Chwat & Co.

Defeating H.R. 607 in its present form is a fight Amateur Radio can win
- but only with thoughtful participation by us all. Thanks to all of you
for your efforts - and let us keep this moving forward. Protecting our
spectrum is important to all of us!


Dan Henderson, N1ND

ARRL Regulatory Information Manager

(860) 594-0236

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