Coordination FAQ

What is Frequency Coordination

Basically, frequency coordination is a form of voluntary participation in an organized program intended to keep interference between repeaters and their users to a minimum.  To do this, repeater sponsors work with a local Frequency Coordinator (FC) to manage area frequencies.  In Alabama, the Alabama Repeater Council manages all coordination requests.

The FC maintains a database of repeater frequencies in active use (as well as new repeaters which are under construction but may not yet be in operation).  The FC recommends repeater operating frequencies (and perhaps other technical details) which will, hopefully be compatible with other existing repeaters.

What is a Frequency Coordinator?

An Amateur Radio Frequency Coordinator (FC) is, first, a volunteer.  He may be a single individual or an organization of volunteers who are recognized by the Amateur Radio community they serve as their ‘coordinator’.  He/They might participate in the program because they are interested in either the technical or the political aspects of coordination, but they all do it as a way of putting something back into Amateur Radio.  These days, no coordinator worth his salt is in it for the ego!  It’s too much work!  But all coordinators do get some form of self-satisfaction out of doing the job, or they wouldn’t bother.

Who benefits from a Frequency Coordination?

In a nutshell, everyone does.  Sponsors of existing coordinators repeaters are assured that the FC will attempt to protect their repeaters and their users from interference caused by new repeaters.  Likewise, sponsors of proposed new machines will get knowledgeable assistance from the FC selecting frequencies for their machines, so that they and their users can feel confident that their new operation will not adversely affect any existing repeaters, and they should experience little interference on their new machines.

How does Frequency Coordination work?

To make a recommendation, the FC needs some data about the proposed new repeater, such as its location, antenna height, and transmitter power. These items all affect, to one degree or another, the repeaters area of coverage.  The FC will review the data on the new repeater, then in conjunction with the data in his database, he will try to find an optimum frequency pair.  Most frequency coordinators will consult with the sponsors of nearby co-channel (same frequency) and adjacent-channel repeaters, and frequency with his adjacent-area counterparts to make sure there are not any valid objections to the new repeater. This way, sponsors of existing repeaters are given the opportunity to look out for their own interests.  Once a new coordination is issued, there is usually a limited construction period (usually 6 weeks or so), to get the new machines one the air.  It it’s not, or close after the deadline passes, the coordination is subject to cancellation. If extensions are needed, please contact the FC.

Is Frequency Coordination required?

No.  Participation in a frequency coordination program is strictly voluntary.  No FC as the ‘authority’ to tell a repeater sponsor what he can, or cannot do. However, the FCC has recognized that participation in a frequency coordination program by repeater sponsors is in the best interests of all amateurs.  Therefore, the FCC rules indicate that the sponsor of an un-coordinated repeater bears the primary responsibility for curing any interference between his repeater and another repeater which is coordinated

How can a Frequency Coordination be cancelled

There are two primary reasons for cancellation of a coordination

If a proposed new repeater never gets on the air, or if an existing repeater goes off the air, the coordination may be subject to “Whom It May Concern” cancellations after a limited amount of time, as set forth by the FC and the Council.

If any of the primary parameters which affect a repeaters coverage area are changed by the sponsor, the coordination can be voided.  For instance, if the repeater gets moved to a different location, or if the antenna height or transmitter power are changed, those changes would affect the coverage area, possibly creating new interference problems for the repeater’s neighbors.

What kind of problems does a Frequency Coordinator have?

Nowadays, there are probably two main problem areas:

First are problems created by the un-coordinated machines which pop-up from time to time.

Second, are problems caused by the proliferation of dual-band transceivers with built-in cross-band repeater capability.  Unfortunately, a poor choice of frequencies can cause interference problems which my go totally unknown to the use of the dual-band radio
In many areas, frequency coordinators have set aside specific frequency pairs for temporary, portable, or emergency repeater operations.  These frequencies should be considered first when setting up a temporary operation such as a parade or other public events, an emergency operation or a short-term experiment.