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[CQ-Contest] Inapplicable Band Plans and Contests

To: "CQ-Contest" <CQ-Contest@contesting.com>
Subject: [CQ-Contest] Inapplicable Band Plans and Contests
From: "Richard J. Norton" <ae327@lafn.org>
Date: Sat, 13 Mar 2004 08:13:25 -0800
List-post: <mailto:cq-contest@contesting.com>
Mode-oriented band-usage plans are suggestions made by committees of amateurs,
that if followed, should result in more efficient use of the spectrum granted
to amateur radio. The plans allocate space for the different modes in
reasonable matches to the demand exhibited by the amateur radio populace. In
over 95% of the time they are appropriate and appear to be generally followed.

There are, however, a few weekends a year, for certain hours of the day on
certain bands, where the band-plans are completely inappropriate. These
weekends are when some large amateur radio DX contests take place.

During these few weekends, amateurs that may not otherwise ever use their
radios find incentive to do so. The normally sparsely populated HF bands become
temporarily alive as many participants efficiently contact many other
participants around the world. The demand part for the contest's mode (CW or
phone) overwhelmingly tilts any steady-state balance.

A mode, that might normally only have 5 to 10 contacts in it, can have 1000
amateurs now active. To suggest that these 1000 amateurs remain in spectral
space calculated based on everyday demand, so that 10 others can each have 8
kilohertz of bandwidth each, represents a grossly inappropriate use of our

With regard to 40 meter SSB operation in DX contests, note that there is no
classic CW amateur versus phone amateur issue at play here. The majority of
serious contest operators have significantly more CW proficiency than any group
of non-participants. Many actually prefer CW, but are simply operating on phone
during the weekend's event.

Contesters generally exhibit courtesy to others. Closer inspection of operation
on 40 will show that the band fills up from the top. Participants follow the
band plan until the sheer volume overwhelms the band. Then and only then do
they move downward.

Note also that contests have specifically avoided use of the WARC bands at all
times, always allowing others spectral space.

I see two sensible avenues to approach any 40 meter contest band-plan issues.
The first would be to have the IARU band plan committees add time
considerations to their plans. With temporary input demands of 1000 phone users
and 10 CW users during two or three DX contests, it is likely that their
recommendations will approximate what occurs now.

The second approach is to simply let amateurs temporarily adjust their
operating frequencies to cope with existing conditions, as is done now.

The second approach is simpler and more efficient. Until I hear convincing
arguments against it, I recommend continuing the present practice.


Dick Norton, N6AA

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