Q. What is a Repeater Council?
A. A Repeater Council is an organization of volunteer Radio Amateurs recognized by the general Amateur Radio community, whose purpose is to review requests and make recommendations for Amateur installations using fixed frequencies in the bands above 29 MHz.
The name “Repeater Council” does not fully describe the frequency coordination function in today’s world. A more appropriate term would be “Frequency Coordination Council” or “Spectrum Management Council”. The term “Repeater Council” originated back in the days when FM voice repeaters were practically the only Amateur systems operating on fixed frequencies.
A “Frequency Coordination Council” has other responsibilities besides frequency coordination. For example, it is involved in band planning, working on approaches to solving technical problems and communication and cooperation with other local, regional and national organizations.
Q. What authority does the “Frequency Coordination Council” have?
A. The “Frequency Coordination Council” has no authority in law. It operates as an organization established and recognized by the general Amateur Radio community for the purpose of managing the allocation of fixed frequencies in the Amateur Radio spectrum above 29 MHz for the benefit of all Amateurs.
The “Frequency Coordination Council” has no authority to demand that Radio Amateurs conform to its policies or to coordinate frequencies through it. Amateurs cooperate with the “Frequency Coordination Council” because this approach to the use of these bands for fixed frequency installations has proven to be a workable and effective method for everyone’s benefit.
Q. What is Frequency Coordination?
A. Frequency Coordination is the process of choosing and recommending one or more specific frequencies for a system that will operate on fixed frequencies, such as a voice repeater, an ATV repeater, a packet system, a remote base, radio control or link, beacon station, etc. This is done with the objective of preventing or reducing potential interference to existing systems and to providing appropriate frequencies to new systems for the enjoyment of their users.
Q. Who is a Frequency Coordinator?
A. Your frequency coordinator is a fellow Radio Amateur who has volunteered to do the considerable work involved in the job. He or she and the other officers of the “Frequency Coordination Council” are giving something back into Amateur Radio for the benefit of the community as a whole and they deserve your cooperation and support.
Q. What are coordinated frequencies?
A. Coordinated frequencies are frequencies that have been allocated to and recommended for use of a specific Amateur Radio system after the frequency coordinator has considered the technical information of that system and of others on the same and adjacent frequencies.
Q. What information is needed for frequency coordination?
A. Quite a lot. The frequency coordinator needs to know the location and height of the system, its expected power output, antenna gain and pattern, and other pertinent data. The coordinator maintains a database of this information on existing and planned systems, both in his own area and in those of adjoining councils. Information is shared with coordinators of other councils to assist in choosing frequencies in places where the signal from a system or its users is likely to reach into another council area.
Q. If I get a coordinated frequency, what further obligations do I have?
A. The holder of a “coordinated frequency” has an obligation to file regular reports on the system, usually annually and at any time a change in the parameters of the system is planned. The “holder” of a frequency coordination is the licensee of the system, or in cases where the licence is held by an organization, its elected officers are the holders. The success of the frequency coordination function very much depends on the availability of accurate technical information on all systems in the geographic area. Failure to keep the council informed about your system can result in the loss of coordinated status and thus the assistance of the council in dealing with problems of interference, etc.
Also, holders of coordinated frequencies should participate in the work of the council, at least at general meetings and should pay their annual dues to support the council and its expenses for postage, telephone calls and supplies. When you pay your dues to the council you have privileges to vote on policy and technical matters.
Q. Is there a charge for frequency coordination?
A. No, there is no charge. However, on submitting your request for coordination you may be invited to include your first annual dues for membership in your local council. These dues are usually very modest.
Q. If I follow the recommendation of the frequency coordinator, will I have a clear frequency without interference from other systems?
A. There are limitations to a coordinator’s ability to find relatively clear frequencies. The frequency coordinator will recommend to you the frequency believed to be, in his/her judgement, the least likely to be interfered with and the least likely to interfere with existing systems, all factors considered. This is no guarantee however, as many factors impact on the possibility of hearing other stations on your input or output frequencies. Also, if your system interferes with an existing system, you will be asked to correct the situation. Resolving the problem might require you to change to a different frequency.
Q. Can the “Frequency Coordination Council” refuse to provide a frequency when asked to do so, especially when all the good frequencies seem to be taken?
A. The purpose of the “Frequency Coordination Council” is to recommend frequencies when requested to do so. When there are many repeaters or other systems in an area on the band you want to use and there are no “clear” frequencies available, you may be asked to share a frequency with one or more existing systems. When this is the case, you can use one or more techniques such as CTCSS sub-audible tones on your input and/or output frequencies to reduce interaction with other systems sharing the frequency.
Another alternative you may be asked to consider is the use of a different Amateur band. In many areas the 144 and 440 MHz bands are congested. In these areas, you should consider using the 50 or 220 MHz bands or the higher bands for your system. The availability of cheap 2 meter or 440 MHz radios is not considered a good reason for adding to the pileup on the “popular bands”, especially when other bands are relatively underutilized. There many benefits to the other bands such as lack of “intermod” interference and a lower expectation of interference from other stations during periods of enhanced tropospheric propagation.
Q. When I get a coordinated frequency, do I keep it forever?
A. Not necessarily. If you fail to cooperate in the resolution of interference problems in a reasonable fashion, or if you fail to file the necessary information with the “Frequency Coordination Council” or frequency coordinator on a regular basis as specified in council policy, you may lose the status of a coordinated system. Also, if you fail to put your system on the air or if it becomes inactive, you will be notified that you have a certain time to use the frequency as proposed, following which the coordination will be withdrawn and the frequency allocation will become available for assignment to another system.