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We are not the Band Police. WWARA is a Repeater Coordinator.
If you have a repeater on the air, and your license is valid, and you have sought and received coordination from us (in FCC-speak that means WWARA "recommended" your repeater) then you have the right to claim priority if another repeater owner comes along and causes you interference. The only advantage you have in this case is the FCC, if and when they get involved, and assuming the other guy is not coordinated, will side with you, and might order the other guy off the air. It has happened in the past, but not very often. Only the FCC has the authority to order anyone off the air.
A repeater coordinator has next to no authority beyond "recommending" a particular repeater, or not. A coordinator organization can set their own standards as to what they consider acceptable to earn their "recommendation". In most cases this includes things like, the operation must be legit under Part 97, and it might need to take certain steps to avoid interference with existing systems (power limits, antenna gain/orientation, use of CTCSS, whatever). They can issue a Band Plan that they expect applicants to honor. But, ultimately, the licensee is responsible.
Part 97 gives any licensee (Technician or higher) the privilege of putting a repeater on the air, should they chose to do so. Frequency selection is up to them, as long as they use frequencies that are specifically allowed for repeaters. The repeater operates under their license, with their callsign. The licensee is responsible for all aspects of the repeater's operation.
There are a lot of misunderstandings regarding Repeater Coordinators. They cannot order a repeater off the air, for example. In fact, if a Coordinator decides to rescind someone's Coordination, they need to tread lightly. It had better be for a very good reason, and they'd better have a published policy that backs it up.
This brings us to refarming the spectrum, a topic opened for discussion at the last WWARA meeting, last Saturday (although the topic has been broached several times in the past).
Remember, there are a lot of analog "wide band" repeaters out there already, and a lot of FM radios that Hams use with them. There is no litmus test for how often a repeater has to be used to be "useful". Remember, the licensee is responsible, so it's really their call. There are a number of repeaters that are key players in various emergency plans that are only occasionally used most of the time. We don't judge the necessity of a fire extinguisher by how often it is used.
Judging from the Hams I know, it will be quite some time until we can "pry the FM HT from their cold dead fingers". As long as some organization, or individual, is willing to maintain and operate a repeater, they have the right to do so. That's more philosophy than law, but any repeater coordinator that starts ordering operable, but lightly used repeaters off the air will probably find themselves in court. I am not a lawyer, but Private Property is mentioned in Article One of the Constitution. That makes it pretty much a core issue.
The next logical step is not to force anyone to do anything, but rather to "enable" them to do so. Make it an easy change to go from an FM repeater to a digital one. That's the step we are looking at, and trying to get the biggest bang for the buck (in terms of spectrum efficiency) in the process. Forcing is not the answer. Enabling is.
The 2-meter repeater band is presently (in Western WA) mostly divided into 20-kHz segments. It would be nice to change this to some mix of 12.5-kHz and/or 6.25-kHz segments. If you do the math, this comes out a bit sloppy. Keep in mind also that the center frequencies have to end up as something a radio can actually be programmed to operate on.
If every time repeaters on two adjacent 20-kHz channels want to change from analog to digital, and you refarm them to two 12.5-kHz channels, centered in the old 20-kHz centers, that leaves 7.5-kHz between them, or a 6.25-kHz channel plus guard bands. Everything now is centered on a 10-kHz step. But a couple of kHz get lost in the shuffle. Worth it? I don't know. ---> Discussion.
The 7 "P's", a way of life onboard a ship: Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance. If the place we want to go is correctly determined, and we understand where we are now, adding a viable route to get there should be all that is needed. The assumption is, it will be a step-wise process, taking place over a decade or two. You can't force it. But you can't stop it either. All you can do is channel it and hope for the best.
On Tuesday, March 5, 2019, 7:00:03 PM PST, Randy Neals <randy@...> wrote:
Frank, you're exactly on point with the sack being full.
Spectrum Management technology is much cheaper than ever before - software defined receivers, software and network connectivity - It's not trivial, but it's now in the range of possible for a repeater council to have some tools.
In highly populated areas, such as Seattle, should we operate a VHF SDR monitoring station that scans all available VHF pairs, simplex and packet frequencies and records carrier/no carrier activity in a data base?
I suspect that every frequency could be sampled for activity a few times per hour, and that over weeks and months, we'd have some decent data about activity level on each VHF channel.
Publish the data. Stack rank repeaters by their activity level. Inform the dialog. Talk and decide what next steps are.
I'd be concerned if there are VHF assignments that over several weeks of monitoring have zero activity.
To use your analogy, the only way we make "more space in the sack" is to narrow band, but to do that, you have to make a contiguous space for re-farming.
I think some monitoring data might expose adjacent non-utilized pairs that could be refarmed.
I completely agree with your assessment with regard to, "When we fail to solve problems, such as the lack of frequency pairs for
new technology, over some period of time the users will just stop paying
attention to the Repeater Council and put things on the air anyway." This was exactly what led us to the 10 pairs we "created" for the new narrow-band equipment hitting the market (Kenny corrected me, it was about 8 years ago). Are 10 pairs enough to satisfy the demand? No, of course not, but this has acted like a relief valve on the pressure cooker, so we could move forward in an ordered, controlled way. It has also brought us to a point where we can talk about how to shape the future expansion of evolving technology.
From the Coordinator point of view, options are limited, but there are options, nonetheless. Given that there is no "new spectrum" available, and not wanting to force any existing system off the air (never mind that we have no such authority in the first place) the next steps need to be carefully looked at. This is an "all hands evolution" as we used to say. While there are no dumb ideas, even a lot of very good ideas probably won't solve our problems.
So, how do we take a sack that is already full, and add another load of repeaters to it? The field is open for discussion.
On Tuesday, March 5, 2019, 5:43:43 PM PST, Randy Neals <randy@...
Your story is very similar to what I've heard from other locations.
I'm originally from the Western New York Southern Ontario Repeater Council (WNYSORC) area. (Toronto, Buffalo and Southern Ontario from Detroit to north of Rochester)
There hasn't been a VHF pair available there in 15 or maybe 20 years. Most new repeaters on VHF are uncoordinated.
Our neighboring council, the Saint Lawrence Valley Repeater Council (SLVRC) has a similar problem anywhere along the US/Canada border from Lake Ontario/Rochester/Syracuse etc.
Combine that with difficult relationship with UNYREPCO, the coordinator in Rochester and Upstate , NY. UNYREPCO coordinates private repeaters, and will hold a coordination for years, even if the repeater is long off the air.
Both WNYSORC and SLVRC are struggling to remain relevant. They have no new VHF coordinations to offer. UHF is a long wait list.
Because Repeater Book has become the defacto Repeater Guide and because people are putting up many uncoordinated repeaters, WNYSORC and SLVRC are not a solution to the problem, so they tend to be ignored.
If there is a lesson in that experience that I can pass on, it would be that Repeater Councils can only remain relevant and have some respect/authority if they solve problems for their patrons which are both old and new repeater owners.
When we fail to solve problems, such as the lack of frequency pairs for new technology, over some period of time the users will just stop paying attention to the Repeater Council and put things on the air anyway.
Our Repeater Councils back east were primarily run by long-term / well established repeater owners who had no incentive to make it easy for new repeater owners, or new technology.
In contrast, what I see here in W Washington is quite civilized - But it would be fair to note the obvious differences in population - 10+ Million population in WNYSORC area, and about half that here in Western Washington.
If you doubled the ham population in Western Washington, it would be quite a bit harder to coordinate a new pair than it is today.
W3RWN / VE3RWN
On Tue, Mar 5, 2019 at 4:15 PM daron wilson <daron@...
I agree with Frank’s assessment of this issue for the most part. Ideally, it would be great to work with all the groups to some common direction, but there are some barriers. California make some interesting decisions, I’ve yet to find anyone down there that is ‘pleased’ with the way things came out on VHF.
Our terrain is significantly different than much of the WWARA coverage area, our user base is also often of a different mindset. Not that either user base is right or wrong, but they may not have the same interests or priorities. However, it seems very reasonable for us to be talking to each other about our thoughts and plans, particularly long term band plan changes that would require some planning and good marketing to deliver.
We wrestled with this years ago when Dstar came up. There was a substantial grant for a lot of digital equipment, and no VHF pairs in the metro area to place new repeaters on. I’ll never forget the push from the ARES section leader that they simply must have digital pairs made available for this equipment or ‘people were going to die’. The only workable solution we could agree on was that they could eliminate an analog repeater, and create a digital splinter frequency on each side of the former analog channel, occupy one with their digital repeater and the other splinter would be used elsewhere where it could fit. To date, I believe only one repeater changed in that manner to accommodate it, and as we found out the 6.25khz signal wasn’t that narrow all the way down. During that time when we posed the option of creating some digital pairs out of some lightly used packet and simplex area, the feedback from the membership and the ARES groups was brutal. To date my VHF Dstar repeater runs on an uncoordinated pair, as nothing is available for VHF coordination on a good sized hilltop.
Perhaps looking more long term at narrow banding would be an easy starting point to work between two or three groups.
Thanks for the dialog, I’m certain that working together even if we end up with different solutions is bound to be better than the alternatives.
Chairman, ORRC, Inc.
That is a nice idea, but in the past it has proven not so easy to realize. California is cut off from Oregon by mountains (and sparse population) along the border very effectively for VHF/UHF. In the past, California has danced to its own drummer, for example, using 15 kHz steps on 2-meters versus 20-kHz steps in the Pacific Northwest. If you want to try to lead such a discussion, you are welcome to try. I don't think you could get agreement between the various groups within California, just to start with.
With respect to V/UHF user communities, There are at least three in Washington State (Puget Sound, Eastern WA, and the southwestern corner of WA). Oregon is mostly divided by the Cascades as well, although the western region south of Eugene is also different from that north of that city, and the coast tends to march to a different drummer.
Each region has different needs and solutions. Any single solution that tried to satisfy the preferences and needs of all these regions would end up satisfying none of them. That was the driving force behind regional coordination organizations in the first place.
Channel bandwidth is driven by technology. Co-channel cooperation, and therefore the number of viable repeaters possible within a given area, is driven by users (population density, skills, habits and demands). This varies greatly between regions.
Please join the discussion, though.
On Tuesday, March 5, 2019, 11:00:04 AM PST, Randy Neals <randy@...> wrote:
Following this with interest...
Wondering if this should not be an entire West Coast consultation and plan development as topography more than state lines affect VHF/UHF propagation.
Everyone west of the mountains / the I-5 Corridor is in the same VHF/UHF propagation region and is interrelated north-south.
To that extent, a consistent standard across the west that harmonizes the approach to channel bandwidth, assignment and policies could well be in the best interest of amateur radio.
With appropriate engagement of inland coordinators as well.
On Tue, Mar 5, 2019 at 10:24 AM Kenny Richards <kenny@...> wrote:
Please share, just remind people that it was a proposal and meant to kick start the discussion, not the final plan. :-) There were two critical missing points brought up during the meeting and will be the focus of the working group to address over the next couple months. (The exact channel plan being one of them) Another point that came up during the meeting that I didn't call out was trying to align our neighbor coordination bodies with the plan once we have a proposal that seems to work. ORCC and BC were specifically called out, but IACC would certainly be invited as well. So I'm glad you are reaching out pro-actively. :-)
Having regular sync up of WWARA and ORCC working groups would be great.