Friday, August 29, 2014

WARC bands

In Meadville, PA, on the campus of Allegheny College there lies a 400 watt college radio station, 90.3 WARC-FM. There are are non-commercial station, operating on the south side of the FM band. There are probably wholly unaware of a segment of the Amateur Radio band that happens to bear their name: The WARC Bands.

The WARC bands are 30 meters, 17 meters and 12 meters. This was established in 1979 at the World Administrative Radio Conference in Geneva, Switzerland, which is how they got their name. But this conference no longer exists. It was the main technical conference of the ITU (International Telecommunication Union). The ITU was a advisory group that gathered delegates from member nations to amend/revise international Radio Regulations. It ceased to exist in 1992 when a Plenipotentiary  conference "restructured" the WARC into the World Radiocommunication Conference or WRC. More pics here.


That 1979 conference took 10 weeks, and that doesn't even counting the preparatory conference that preceded it in Panama.They started on September 24th and finally broke on December 6th. There were a total of 147 delegations and about 2,000 individual delegates. They considered 15,000 different proposals in that time and most of those were about the allocation of specific frequency bands for particular uses. I cannot imagine what it takes to get 2,000 people to agree on anything. Somehow the result was that these frequency bands to the Amateur Radio band:
30 meters (10.100–10.150 MHz)
17 meters (18.068–18.168 MHz)
12 meters (24.890–24.990 MHz)
There were caveats attached of course dividing individual slivers for certain services: CW, narrow band digital, beacons, wide band digital etc. Also there remains a "gentleman's agreement" that the WARC bands may not be used for amateur radio contesting, a sport in which hams try to rack up two-way communications competitively for both distance and quantity.