The FCC voted unanimously to drop the symbol rate restrictions on HF in favor of the proposed 2.8 kHz bandwidth limit. This will be beneficial to digital amateur operations and especially emergency communications during times of need.
The new rules should take effect 30 days after being published in the Federal Register.
Here’s the press release from the FCC:
For Immediate Release FCC ADOPTS RULES TO MODERNIZE AMATEUR RADIO SERVICE AND FOSTER INNOVATION — WASHINGTON, November 13, 2023—The Federal Communications Commission today adopted new rules to incentivize innovation and experimentation in the amateur radio bands by removing outdated restrictions and providing licensees with the flexibility to use modern digital emissions. The Report and Order adopted today eliminates the baud rate limitation—the rate at which the carrier waveform amplitude, frequency, and/or phase is varied to transmit information—in certain amateur radio bands. Instead, the Commission establishes a 2.8 kHz bandwidth limitation in the applicable amateur radio bands. The changes will enable the amateur radio community to operate more efficiently, including in support of emergency situations when appropriate, and foster experimentation, which is a core principle of the amateur radio service. The FCC also adopted a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking which proposes and seeks comment on the removal of the baud rate – sometimes called the symbol rate—limitation in the VHF and UHF bands and in the 2200 meter and 630 meter bands, which the Commission allocated for amateur radio use after it released the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in 2016. It also seeks comment on the appropriate bandwidth limitation for the 2200 meter band, the 630 meter band, and the VHF/UHF bands. Source: FCC https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/DOC-398409A1.pdf
The ARRL “hailed” the action. Here’s some excerpts from their article on the ARRL website:
ARRL Hails FCC Action to Remove Symbol Rate Restrictions 11/13/2023 ARRL The National Association for Amateur Radio® reports that earlier today, the FCC Commissioners unanimously voted to amend the Amateur Radio Service rules to replace the baud rate limit on the Amateur HF bands with a 2.8 kHz bandwidth limit to permit greater flexibility in data communications. “The Federal Communications Commission today adopted new rules to incentivize innovation and experimentation in the amateur radio bands by removing outdated restrictions and providing licensees with the flexibility to use modern digital emissions,” announced FCC. “Specifically, we remove limitations on the symbol rate (also known as baud rate) — the rate at which the carrier waveform amplitude, frequency, and/or phase is varied to transmit information — applicable to data emissions in certain amateur bands,” concluded the FCC Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, adopted November 13, 2023. “The amateur radio community can play a vital role in emergency response communications, but is often unnecessarily hindered by the baud rate limitations in the rules.” Consistent with ARRL’s request, the amended rules will replace the current HF restrictions with a 2.8 kHz bandwidth limit. “We agree with ARRL that a 2.8 kilohertz bandwidth limitation will allow for additional emissions currently prohibited under the baud rate limitations while providing sufficient protections in the shared RTTY/data subbands,” concluded the FCC Report and Order. ARRL President Rick Roderick, K5UR, hailed the FCC’s action to remove the symbol rate restrictions. Roderick stated that “this action will measurably facilitate the public service communications that amateurs step up to provide, especially at times of natural disasters and other emergencies such as during the hurricane season. Digital technology continues to evolve, and removing the outmoded data restrictions restores the incentive for radio amateurs to continue to experiment and develop more spectrum-efficient protocols and methods while the 2.8 kHz bandwidth limit will help protect the shared nature of our bands. We thank Congresswoman [Debbie] Lesko (AZ-08) for her efforts on behalf of all Amateurs to get these restrictions removed.” Source: ARRL https://www.arrl.org/news/arrl-hails-fcc-action-to-remove-symbol-rate-restrictions