Spring 2007 Issue

FM

What is this Auxiliary Operation Stuff?

By Bob Witte, KØNR

Figure 3. An example of a dual-band FM transceiver (Yaesu FT-8900) that is
capable of being a crossband repeater.

In October 2006 the FCC issued a Report and Order allowing auxiliary stations to operate on the 2-meter band. Previously, an auxiliary station could only operate on the 222-MHz band and higher frequencies. This prompts the questions: “What exactly is an auxiliary station?” and “What does this change mean to the Amateur Radio Service?”

FCC Rules, Opinions, and Disclaimer

First, I need to point out that I don’t speak for the FCC and I am not an expert on radio regulations. When it comes to FCC rules and regulations, it is easy to get into the armchair lawyer mode and sound like you know how the FCC interprets the rules. My only credential in this area is that I have never been cited by the FCC for a violation of Part 97. Therefore, I must be doing something right—so far.

In the Report and Order the FCC said the following:

As currently defined by the amateur service rules, an auxiliary station is an amateur station, other than a station in a message forwarding system, that is transmitting point-to-point communications within a system of cooperating amateur stations. Under the current Part 97 rules, an auxiliary station is restricted to transmitting only on the 1.25 m and shorter wavelength bands, with exceptions for certain frequency segments.

This definition seems simple enough and conjures up the notion of a “radio link” that connects different amateur radio stations. Note that you will sometimes hear the term auxiliary operation, but the FCC actually uses the term auxiliary station in its Part 97 definition.

The FCC also wrote:

The underlying purpose of limiting auxiliary stations to these frequency bands has been to minimize the possibility of harmful interference to other amateur service stations and operations, particularly “weak signal” activity in the 2 m (144–148 MHz) band.

I would add that, in general, the 2-meter band supports a wide variety of different types of amateur operation. The most common use is analog FM simplex and repeaters (FM, the utility mode), but don’t forget other modes, including weak-signal CW/SSB, moonbounce (EME), OSCAR satellites, propagation beacons, meteor scatter, and AX.25 packet. This is quite a bit of amateur radio operating crammed into 4 MHz of frequency space. The concern of many people is that allowing auxiliary operation would increase the pressure on the 2-meter band, resulting in an unmanageable interference problem. The FCC wrote:

In the NPRM (Notice of Proposed Rulemaking—ed.), in response to a request from Kenwood Communications Corporation, the Commission sought comment on whether it should revise Section 97.201(b) of the Commission’s Rules to allow auxiliary stations to transmit on the 2 m band above 144.5 MHz, except 145.8–146.0 MHz, in addition to the frequency segments previously authorized. In the NPRM, the Commission noted that there was no apparent basis to conclude that allowing auxiliary stations to transmit on the 2 m band would cause harmful interference to other stations’ communications.

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