As reported on the ARRL web site, the FCC rejected the proposal from Ken Chafin, W6CPA, and Leon Brown, KC6JAR to create a 2M subband for digital voice repeaters. This proposal was apparently a good-intentioned approach to opening up new spectrum for digital machines (D-STAR, P25, etc.). Chafin and Brown jointly filed a PRM in October 2007 requesting that the FCC “propose to expand the frequencies on which an amateur station operating as a repeater (repeater station) may operate,” specifically Section 97.205(b) to allow repeater stations to transmit in the 145.5-145.8 MHz frequency segment of the 2 meter amateur service band.
The FCC correctly rejected this proposal, indicating that the Amateur Radio Service does not need additional 2M spectrum for repeaters. Also, the FCC rejected the notion of a subband that is dedicated to a particular modulation format.
I appreciate the problem of trying to open up repeater frequency pairs for digital voice repeaters. We are struggling with that issue here in Colorado. It seems that all of the 2M repeater pairs are “full” in the front range. (Full but not necessary well-used.) The Colorado Council of Amateur Radio Clubs (CCARC) took action to open up digital voice repeater pairs on the 440 MHz and 1.2 GHz bands, but we haven’t figured out what to do on 2 Meters.
Technically-oriented hams want to put up repeaters using the new digital technology, so we want to find a way to support that effort. One answer is to expand the repeater subband. But let’s be honest….in most locations the 2M repeater subband are filled with repeaters that largely sit there doing nothing. I find it very difficult to justify adding additional spectrum to amateur repeater usage.
Also, what is the big freaking deal with 2 Meters? Why does everyone insist on having a D-STAR machine on 2M? There is generally much more room on 70 cm (440 MHz), so let’s give that a go. I think the ham community is stuck in the 2-meter rut. (I understand this, sort of, for good old FM, but digital voice means buying new gear, so let’s do it on 440 MHz.)
73, Bob K0NR