A brief history

For many decades the the lowest frequency radio amateurs had access to was 160 m (1.8 MHz). This changed in 1997 when CEPT/ERC Recommendation 62-01E gave radio amateurs access to the 2200 m band (135.7-137.8 kHz). Some years later the first suggestions to "fill the gap" between the 2200 m and 160 m bands appeared. As the frequency range 526-1606 kHz (535-1705 kHz in North America) is assigned to AM radio broadcasting we had to look for a spot around 500 kHz.

In 2005 a few German hams obtained experimental licenses to operate on 440 kHz (DI2... callsigns). Due to the fact that these experimental licenses did not allow (cross band) QSO's with radio amateurs they mainly operated as beacons. In 2006 a number of US American, and later also Canadian, hams also received experimental licences in the 465-515 kHz frequency range.

The frequency range 495-505 kHz had been the primary international distress frequency since 1912, but in the past decade VHF and satellite communication was taking over this function and the 495-505 kHz segment became more and more abandoned by the Maritime service. In 2007 UK hams gained access to the 501-504 kHz frequency range. Although the EIRP was limited to 100 mW (increased to 1 W in 2009 and 10W in 2010) and a special permit (Notice of Variation) was required this was an important step. Early 2008 Belgian hams also gained access to the 501-504 kHz range with 5 W EIRP and in the following months and years more and more, mainly European, countries provided an amateur radio allocation near 500 kHz.

Starting 2008, an allocation for amateur service near 500 kHz was discussed on CEPT and ITU level. During the 2012 World Radiocommunication Conference document 362-E was approved that gave the amateur service a world wide allocation between 472 and 479 kHz.