Hurricane Laura: ARRL asks FCC to allow Pactor 3 and 4
Another hurricane and yet again the ARRL has to ask for a special waiver from the FCC to use what are elsewhere a routine amateur radio digital modes
This is because 40 years ago a Symbol Rate restriction was added to the Part 97 regulations which crippled the development and use of efficient amateur radio digital communication modes.
The most recent attempt to scrap this archaic restriction started in 2013 when the ARRL submitted a Petition for Rule Making RM-11708. In the 7 years since nothing has changed.
It their submission the ARRL said:
"ARRL seeks this waiver for those licensed radio amateurs who are directly involved with hurricane relief via High Frequency Amateur Radio using PACTOR 4 modems in communications within the Continental United States relative to impending Hurricane Laura. ARRL states that Section 97.307(f) of the Commission’s Rules prevents the use of PACTOR 4 emissions, which is a data protocol that permits relatively high-speed data transmission in the High Frequency (HF) bands and many Amateur stations active in emergency communications preparedness are capable of using. They also point out that the past FCC temporary waivers have allowed this protocol in similar events including Hurricane Maria, Typhoon relief communications in Hawaii and Hurricane Dorian."
In granting the waiver the FCC said:
"We conclude that granting the requested waiver is in the public interest. Hurricane Laura has the potential to cause massive destruction states along the Gulf of Mexico, and communications services will likely be disrupted. Thus, to accommodate amateur radio operators assisting in the recovery efforts, we grant the ARRL’s waiver request for the period of 30 days from the date of this Order. The waiver is limited to amateur radio operators in the continental United States using PACTOR 3 and PACTOR 4 emissions who are directly involved with HF hurricane relief communications."