CQ WW RTTY Contest Director Ed Muns, W0YK, recently wrote a response to someone who was commenting on the activity during the CQ WW RTTY Contest. Ed’s reply is equally true for the CQWW SSB and CW contest weekends so we wanted to share it here with everyone.

Note: The CQ WW rule II states “Observance of established band plans is strongly encouraged.”  Even during times of high activity, we need to share the bands in accordance with the band plans as best we can.


What does “the recognized RTTY portions of the bands” mean?  Each country’s telecommunications authority determines what modes can be used in specified portions of the amateur bands.  Contest entries must follow this rule and all other amateur service rules of their country.  Not doing so is grounds for disqualification in this contest.  However, the contest sponsor cannot police thousands of participants in hundreds of entities around the world with their separate diverse amateur service rules.

If you are referring to voluntary band plans, they are even more problematic.  There are hundreds of them, all unenforceable and with many conflicts between them, especially across world regions and countries.  More important, though, is that band plans assume normality.  A major contest is not at all “normal” use of amateur bands.  Outside of RTTY contests and DXpeditions, one is hard-pressed to find a RTTY transmission anywhere on the amateur bands.  Yet, during a major RTTY contest, the number of running stations, spaced out so as not to overlap each other, cannot fit within the “normal” RTTY band plan segments.  (But, still within the country’s amateur service band digital segments specified by its telecommunications regulations.)   I expect all amateurs, contesters and non-contesters, to value the high activity that contesting brings to our amateur bands at discrete times during the year.  This reduces the risk that the amateur service spectrum is reduced in favor of other services.

Here is my personal analogy.  I receive my postal mail at a post office box in my town’s Post Office.  The building is located adjacent to our town plaza which is turned into a farmer’s market every Sunday morning.  During this time, traffic congestion in this area is high, the public road directly at the Post Office is off limits and parking is impossible to find within blocks of the Post Office.  Accordingly, I am essentially denied reasonable access to my mail box every Sunday morning.  I could protest this outrage, or I could be thankful that the farmers market is one of many uses of our public plaza that helps justify its existence.  I appreciate having that area in our town.  It is shared space and since I know the farmers market is always, and only, on Sunday mornings, it is  small matter for me to adjust my life to not expect access to my mail box during that time.  This is a minor manageable personal inconvenience for the value of a town plaza.  I personally enjoy walking my dog there, meeting friends for a chat and attending the Jazz music series held on 10 Wednesday evenings during the summer.

Other similar examples are bicycle road races, distance foot races, parades, funeral processions, music events, political rallies, athletic events, etc.  All these specific one-time temporary events disrupt the “normal” use of our public roadways and subsequent access to certain areas of the community.  The important thing is that the public roadways are being put to lots of passionate use to justify their existence and maintenance.

All amateur interests need to share our common asset of the amateur service band segments.  It is much more efficient to accumulate our various interests and share our limited spectrum space across time slices rather than dedicating sub-segments to the various special interests.  Take the contesting special interest as an example.  If a fixed amount of space were to be allocated to contesting, it would be much too small to meet the activity level during contests.  Worse, most days of the year, the space wouldn’t be used at all, lying completely vacant when other special interests could use it.


CQ RTTY Contests Director