Fall 2006 Issue
2-Meter Band Plans Many to Choose From
By Bob Witte,* KΨNR
I subscribe to a number of e-mail lists associated with ham radio topics. On one of these lists, a pair of hams was arranging a schedule using FM just below 144.5 MHz. I poked my head in and commented that the ARRL band plan showed this frequency in the New OSCAR Subband, 144.30144.50 MHz. One of the hams replied that according to the Area Repeater Coordination Council (ARCC, the frequency coordination body for eastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey) band plan, FM simplex is allowed in the 144.310144.370 MHz range. Sure enough, that band plan does show FM simplex in this segment of the band.
This caused me to take a look
at the various 2-meter band plans around the U.S. Of course, the 2-meter
ham band is the most popular VHF band and has a wide range of uses: FM
repeaters, FM simplex, weak-signal SSB/CW, propagation beacons, APRS
(Automatic Position Reporting System), EME (Earth-Moon-Earth), and AX.25
packet. This makes for an interesting challenge of how to share the
frequency spectrum. As well see, how the band is allocated depends on
where you are located.
The basic idea of band plans (also called Frequency Utilization Plans) is to coordinate how radio hams use the frequency spectrum. In particular, band plans designate areas for different types of modulation and communication modes, since different modes are often incompatible. For example, an FM signal cant be received correctly by an SSB receiver, so having those modes operating on the same frequency just creates confusion and frustration. Even if the modulation type is the same, there may still be incompatibility. For example, OSCAR satellites may use modulation types that are the same as terrestrial operating (FM, SSB, CW, packet, etc.). However, terrestrial contacts are incompatible with working the satellites, since it is likely that terrestrial signals would interfere with a satellite without realizing it.
In recent policy decisions, the
FCC has been clear that it intends to provide a minimal amount of band
planning by regulation and to allow the amateur community to manage
frequency sharing. However, there are a few FCC rules that regulate how
the 2-meter band is used. The FCC reserves the very low end of the 2-meter
band, 144.0144.1 MHz, for CW emissions only (FCC Part 97.305c). Also, the
FCC excludes repeater operation from these frequencies on the 2-meter
band: 144.0 144.5 MHz and 145.5146.0 MHz (FCC Part 97.205b).
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