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BE Informed No. 8.3

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Frequency Coordination

&

Part 97

John B. Johnston, W3BE

Q. What is a frequency coordinator?

A. Section 97.3(a)(22) defines a frequency coordinator as an entity, recognized in a local or regional area by amateur operators whose stations are eligible to be auxiliary or repeater stations, that recommends transmit/receive channels and associated operating and technical parameters for such stations in order to avoid or minimize potential interference.  

   When the hams in any locality desire frequency coordination, they must come together on what it is they expect from their frequency coordinator. Then they must choose the entity to carry out those expectations. Should they become dissatisfied with the way that entity is doing the job, they should replace it with one that will. 

Q. Does the FCC select our frequency coordinators?

A. No, our regulator does not select the frequency coordinators for our amateur service. That is our selection to make in order to have our repeaters and auxiliary station transmissions to occupy our allocated spectrum in an orderly and efficient manner.

Q. Does the FCC specify how we must go about selecting our frequency coordinator?

A. No. That is up to the licensees of our local or regional area stations that are eligible to be auxiliary or repeater stations. Section 97.205(c) says: where the transmissions of a repeater cause harmful interference to another repeater, the two station licensees are equally and fully responsible for resolving the interference unless the operation of one station is recommended by the frequency coordinator and the operation of the other station is not. In that case, the licensee of the non-coordinated repeater has primary responsibility to resolve the interference. 

Q. There is no frequency coordinator in our area. If another repeater causes interference to our repeater, which station licensee must resolve the interference?

A. Because your repeater is uncoordinated, its Section 97.103 station licensee has primary responsibility to resolve the interference when the other station is coordinated. If the other repeater is also uncoordinated, both station licensees are responsible for resolving the interference.   

Q. The frequency coordinator in an adjoining state has announced that it will be taking over the coordination in our area. Does our area coordinator decide to serve us, or do the licensees in our area decide who is to serve us?

A. The eligible licensees in your area should decide. Section 97.3(a)(22) says, in effect, your frequency coordinator is an entity recognized in your local or regional area by those amateur operators eligible to be auxiliary or repeater stations. 

Q. Our repeater is coordinated, but it receives interference from another repeater. The other repeater is also coordinated and its station licensee complains that it receives interference from our repeater. It is really annoying to the users. Who is responsible for resolving this matter?

A. During any period when one repeater is interfering with another repeater, the station licensee and the control operator of the repeater causing the interference may be found in violation of Section 97.101(d): No amateur operator shall willfully or maliciously interfere with or cause interference to any radio communication or signal.

   When repeaters cause interference to each other, the licensee of each station is responsible for resolving any interference caused by that station. All of them should work together to arrive at a satisfactory solution. They might ask their coordinator to revisit its recommendations. The answer may be to make modifications in the operating and technical parameters for either or both stations.  For instance, a workable solution may require adjusting antenna coverage, lowering radiated power levels, implementing receiver and/or transmitter tone squelch, moving one or both stations to a different channel or time-sharing use of the channel.

Q. Many years after our repeater was in operation, the frequency coordinator gave our channel to another station. What is the FCC going to do about that?

A. If your repeater continues to retransmit on the channel such as to cause interference to the other repeater, you may be contacted by our Maintenance Monitors. For the good of our amateur service, please don’t ask our Federal Government to overrule your area frequency coordinator! If it were to do so - and let’s hope that it never comes to that - it could mean that they have lost confidence in our ability to coordinate our repeaters and bring into question the efficacy of our self-policing capability.

Q. Why didn’t we receive credit for being on the channel first?

A. Maybe your frequency coordinator did take your prior use claim into consideration. Apparently, it has decided that your claim to the channel is outweighed by the need for a more effective arrangement of repeaters in your area. Just because your repeater fit neatly into the local spectrum landscape at some point in the past doesn’t necessarily mean that it is still does so today or that it will it continue to do so in the future.

Q. For too many years, our local frequency coordinator has ignored its own bylaws and      standards. I know it is outside of Part 97, but what can be done to correct this situation?

   You are experiencing first-hand why few people or organizations – including our regulator - want to become entangled in amateur service repeater coordination. It is a self-determining process that can be a rough and tumble chore. It may be that the hams in your locality are content enough to endure an occasional less-than-ideal coordination just to be able enjoy the benefits of frequency coordination. Otherwise, they should select a frequency coordinator that better responds to their expectations.

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September 19, 2015

Supersedes all prior editions