AMSAT-NAAMSAT Board of Directors Considers the AMSAT-NA Recommendations to the Future of the Amateur Service Committee of IARU

The following is an extract from the Minutes of the AMSAT-NA Board of Directors meeting held June 29, 1996 in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Bill Tynan stated that the IARU has formed a committee to address several potential changes to the international Amateur Service and the Amateur Satellite Service regulations which are to be addressed at the 1999 WRC. For example, one of these is the question of whether or not nations should require a Morse Code examination for operation below 30 MHz. He said that this committee is called the Future of the Amateur Service Committee (FASC). As a preliminary step, the FASC circulated a Discussion Paper, which was sent to him for AMSAT, and for which comments are needed by June 30, 1996. On receiving this paper Bill asked Ray Soifer to lead in the preparation of an AMSAT position for presentation to the Board before forwarding it to IARU. He said that it is the review, and hopefully approval, of the draft that mainly prompted this board meeting at this particular time. Ray Soifer then led the discussion, describing the make-up, mission and schedule of the FASC. He said that the committee is to prepare a position paper to the submitted to the IARU in preparation for the 1999 WRC.

All Board members concurred with the principle of AMSAT filing recommendations dealing only with the Amateur Satellite Service, and that there was no need for us to address other issues such as the Morse issue. Ray Soifer then presented the draft document which he, with the help of several other Board members, had prepared for approval by the full Board. He summarized its main points as follows:

Both Art Feller and Frank Bauer expressed some concern with the draft. Frank wanted to modify the language that exists in the current rules with respect to third party traffic, specifically to aid SAREX contacts with overseas school groups. Art was concerned with much of the thrust of the document, feeling that some of the proposed changes would be undesirable for Amateur Radio and represent too great a change from existing rules. He was particularly concerned that the proposed changes might allow communications in the amateur bands which could be accommodated on other allocations and should not be allowed in the amateur bands. He feared that such changes could eventually work against maintaining amateur allocations. In particular, he disagreed with the proposal to remove the word "radio" from type of technical data traffic that can be carried on amateur frequencies, opening them up to the transmission of any type of scientific data. Bill Tynan, while mindful of Art's past association with the FCC and his knowledge of allocation matters, expressed the view that Amateur Radio might improve its standing at allocation conferences if we can show that it is aiding scientific research leading to greater knowledge. He noted that the current rules make it difficult to do this, unless the scientific data is somehow related to radio. He cited as an example a proposed university satellite project to conduct a biological experiment, in which it was suggested that the data be telemetered on amateur frequencies. He said that he had told the group that their proposal did not meet the currently understood amateur or amateur satellite rules, since the resulting data had nothing to do with "radio" technology. Art's strong feeling was that this interpretation is correct and that such use of amateur frequencies should not be allowed.

Tom suggested that our document make it clear that what we are saying in response to the FASC paper are recommendations and that this be stated prominently at the beginning of our document, possibly in a cover letter. It was also proposed that we are aware that the recommendations we are making should be carefully studied by the FASC, prior to making recommendations to the IARU. Tom also stated that he believes that the guidelines this Board considered several years ago are adequate to define the kinds of projects that are appropriate as amateur satellites. He summarized these as follows:

He pointed out that nowhere in these guidelines are the kinds of data that can be transmitted mentioned.

The consensus was that the general concept embodied in these four points reflect the recommendations we are trying to convey to the FASC, but that the current international rules say otherwise. Therefore we concluded that we would recommend that appropriate rule changes be sought at the 1999 WRC. Accordingly, Board members approved the general thrust of the document, as presented by Ray, with appropriate editorial changes made to accommodate Frank's and Tom's points. Ray and several others huddled to produce the final version.

The Board of Directors meeting minutes were transcribed by Bill Hook, W3QBC, and published in the September/October 1996 issue of the AMSAT Journal. This section was retyped and converted to HTML by Paul Williamson, KB5MU. Send your comments on this Web page to KB5MU.