Saint Lawrence Valley Repeater Council
Frequently Asked Questions - FAQs
These questions and answers pertaining to Repeater Council operations and Frequency Coordination are intended to provide a general overview of and introduction to the related areas that most amateurs may be curious about.
For more specific and more complete information, you are encouraged to
Q. What is a Repeater Council ?
A. A Repeater Council is an organization of volunteer Radio Amateurs which is recognized by the general amateur radio community, and 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 function of the organization 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 Repeater Council has other responsibilities besides frequency coordination. For example, it is involved in bandplanning, working on approaches to solving technical problems, and communication and cooperation with other local, regional, national and international organizations.
The Saint Lawrence Valley Repeater Council is an international organization, covering Eastern Ontario, the Counties of Franklin and St. Lawrence in New York State, and a portion of Quebec on the north side of the Ottawa River. The SLVRC has been in operation for over 20 years.
Q. What authority does the repeater council have ?
A. The repeater 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 radio amateurs.
The repeater council has no authority to demand that radio amateurs conform to its policies or to coordinate frequencies through it. Individual radio amateurs and their other organizations cooperate with the repeater 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 repeater council are putting something back into amateur radio, for the benefit of the community as a whole, and so 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.
An application form for requesting frequency coordination in the SLVRC area is available on this site. It defines the specific information needed by the frequency coordinator before a coordinated frequency can be assigned to a new system.
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 licencee of the system, or in cases where the licence is held by an organization, it is the elected officers. The success of the frequency coordination function very largely 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.
The SLVRC policy requires that technical information for each system be filed each year, so the Council will have up to date data on which new frequency allocations can be based.
Also, holders of coordinated frequencies should participate in the work of the council, at least at general meetings, and 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. The SLVRC has two general meetings each year.
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.
In the Saint Lawrence Valley Repeater Council the annual dues for individuals or organizations with coordinated frequencies are $10.00 (Canadian), and for other members, $5.00 C. Membership dues are collected each calendar year.
Q. If I follow the recommendation of the frequency coordinator will I have a clear frequency without interference from other systems ?
A. Frequency coordination is an art, not rocket science, and there are limitations to a coordinator's ability to find relatively clear frequencies. The frequency coordinator will recommend to you the frequency believed in his/her judgement to be least likely to be interfered with and least likely to interfere with existing systems, all factors considered. This is no guarantee. Many factors impact on the possibility of hearing other stations on your input or output frequencies. Also, if you 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 repeater council refuse to provide a frequency when asked to do so, especially when all the good frequencies seem to be taken ?
A. A repeater council's purpose 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 subaudible tones on your input and output frequencies to reduce interaction with other systems sharing the frequency.
Another alternative you might 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 even 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 are 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 propogation.
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 council 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.
If you have questions which are not adequately answered here, then refer to the SLVRC Policy,
Guidelines and Procedures, available on this site. If you need further clarification, you may contact
the Chairman, SLVRC
or the Frequency Coordinator, SLVRC.
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