As the majority of readers probably know, the IARU Region 1 50MHz bandplan includes a ‘window’ for intercontinental traffic only. For stations in Europe, the window should exclusively be used to make QSOs with non-European stations. A great deal of respect should be also given to the intercontinental calling frequency (50.110) which must be used for intercontinental QSOs only or for a couple of DX calls, after which a QSY is almost compulsory.
Unfortunately these rules, useful to diversify the kind of traffic (and subsequently the quality/difficulty of QSOs), are seldom respected.
During the sporadic-E season, many European stations are ‘caught’ making QSOs inside the intercontinental window. Judging from what I hear, the great part of them are from middle-south of Europe (CT, EA, F, I, S5, 9A, LZ, YO, SV) with a situation close to anarchy for countries like ER, UT and EU.
Even if the greater part of such episodes are from the Mediterranean area, if we take a close look at the band during a contest (eg NAC) there are some OZ, PA, ES, G and DL stations that behave in a similar way.
To educate European operators to respect the rules is a really hard task. Frequently we answer an LZ station (for instance) on 50.110 because he’s transmitting from a new square, and this LZ generates, in a matter of moments, a huge pile-up and becomes a source of unbelievable QRM.
The most ridiculous/sad aspect (which also shows the scarcity of knowledge of six-metre propagation phenomena) is that if you try to explain to the LZ (and also to his corespondents) that they’re making traffic in the intercontinental window (probably disturbing real DX signals), you are criticised as the ‘frequency policeman’ or as the bad guy who tries to remind them of the rules that we have given to ourselves.
After this long introduction, let me now come to the main topic of this article: how can we discourage European-European traffic in the intercontinental window on six metres?
Here are my suggestions.
It would be wise, for the nations who haven’t adopted such method, to insert in the contest rules the statement that every operation inside the DX window is not allowed, and it would also be better if the DX window could be extended a bit more.
One might argue: "Isn’t sufficient to prohibit EU-EU traffic inside the DX window. I answer that that is useless because is not possible to perform efficient monitoring against people who usually break this rule.
A station might call on 50.111, declaring that he wants to contact only stations outside EU; but try to figure out - if a nearby friend answers, wouldn’t it be impolite not to pass him some points?
In Italy, since 1998, there has been a rule that between 50.090 and 50.150 all QSOs are not valid for national contests. After two years we have seen the benefits, not only for DX traffic, but also for contest-like traffic.
Against all the odds, since we introduced that rule, the DX stations, who wanted to run the contest and raise some contacts for it, have always moved to the contest section of the band. If propagation conditions changed they were free to move down the band and work good DX (eg ZS from north EU) without I contest QRM.
I’m aware that several ZS and SM contest managers have adopted this rule too, and I hope that this will happen also with OZ, G and PA managers. Moreover I hope that readers outside Italy will ask their contest managers to promote the adoption of this system in their own country.
The best system to discourage the usage of the intercontinental window from EU stations should be never to answer a CQ call made by a European station. But bear in mind that, for all your ‘holy silence’ probably not all stations will show the same amount of politeness.
So I would suggest either:
1. If an EU station works inside the DX window please do not report it on the packet cluster. If you can’t resist doing so (just to let others know that there’s an opening in progress), you can just report something like this "DX 50000 SV….. THE BAND IS OPEN!" (without indicating either QRG or callsign). That will probably diminish the number of people who are going to call him/her.
or 2. Contact him/her, and ask politely for a QSY beyond 50.130 (for SSB) and below 50.100 (for CW) explaining that it is good operating practice to leave the DX window free for DX stations in other continents. After this QSY it could be useful, but only at that point, to report on the DX cluster the station calling on the new frequency. Sometimes you will be called a ‘cop’, but those stations maybe forget that cops usually chase ‘criminals’, so you shouldn’t mind at all! If everybody could do this, I mean ask for a QSY, even the most xtal-bound operator would feel under accusation and would move his/her VFO, so let’s carry on with this practice.
A New Bandplan
I guess that the right moment to adopt a new band plan has come. Speaking about the Italian situation, I4CIL has submitted to our association a proposal for a new bandplan which includes a proposal to move the centre of DX activity to 50.300 (plus or minus 30 kHz) as it is on 144 MHz.
If other associations would like to support this proposal please write to I4CIL or to me for further information about this new idea.
If a lot of associations subscribe this proposal, I think that we could distribute the traffic on the band with much more ease. Also French six-metre enthusiasts would be able to use the band within their national rules and not be forced to be pirates when a DX station appears on the intercontinental calling frequency.
I look forward to receiving comments, proposals, protests, but above all support for this article.
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