W3BE'S BE Informed!
Home1.0 W3BE Checklists1.1 RF Safety1.2 Antenna Structures1.3 Quiet Zones1.4 60 Meter Privileges1.5 Hams For Hire1.6 Hams At Sea1.7 Chinese Radios1.8.0 Reciprocal Privileges1.8.1 For Canadians1.8.2 Reciprocal I.D.1.8.3 More Reciprocal Q&A1.8.4 Hear Something Say Something1.9 Third Party Communications1.10 Incentive Licensing1.11 GEPs and GAPs1.12 Hamslanguage1.13 Visiting Operators1.14 Terms in Part 971.15 Amateur Station?1.16 Licenses & Call Signs1.17 All About Spectrum1.18 Transmitter Stability1.19 Selling Over Ham Radio1.20 Still an Amateur?1.21 Use My Station?1.22 Digi-Standards1.23 No Secrets1.24 Where's My License?1.25 Spectrum Management1.26 A Little Bit Commercial2.0 Ham Needs To Know2.1 VE System Management2.2 What A VE Does2.3 Remote Testing2.4 Get Your Pools Right2.8 GOTA Experience: License Qualifier?2.9.1 Get Your Ham Call Sign2.12 Former Hams2.13 Stereotype W2.14 VE's Universe2.15 More HF for Techs2.16 Can A VE Accept Pay2.17 VEC Supposed To Do2.18 Significance of license3.0 Smell Test3.1 Maintenance Monitoring3.2 International/domestic3.3 Excuses3.4 Heed The Rules!3.5 Regulatable3.6 No Broadcasting3.7 Station Records4.0 Which Call Sign?4.1 Self-assigned indicator4.2 Station ID4.3 ID Every 10 minutes4.5 Indicator Schedule4.6 Special Event 1 by 14.7 Non-Appended Indicator4.8 Club Station ID5.0 Our TPMSP Class5.1 VPOD5.3 Big Red Switch6.0 Constitution Go-By6.1 What Ia A Radio Club?6.2 School Radio Club6.3 Club Stations Control Op6.4 Radio Club Repeater Station7.0 EmComm7.2 RACES7.3 Commercial Communications7.11 Supposed To Be7.12 Emergency Responders & Part 978.0 Repeaters & Part 978.1 Auxiliary Stations & Part 978.2 Remote Bases & Part 978.3 Frequency Coordination8.4 Automatic Control & Part 978.5 The Internet & Part 9710.2 Deceased's Call Sign



   The high art of "No means Yes" government doublespeak is on display in Section 97.1(a). Therein, our regulator claims that – among five principles – it has designed the rules for our amateur service in places where it regulates to recognize and enhance the value of the amateur service to the public as a voluntary noncommercial communications service, particularly with respect to providing emergency communications.

   Yet, our regulator has reported to Congress that amateur radio emergency communications require not only stations in a position to originate the emergency message, but also (serve as) an alternative to the commercial communications infrastructure impacted by the emergency. This alternative infrastructure is the network of amateur radio operators and their stations that relay messages, build and maintain repeater stations and repeater networks, operate HF message networks to send messages greater distances than are practical with mobile or transportable transmitters, and develop new technologies to improve the reliability of these networks.

   So far, at least, Congress has been dragging its feet in updating the Communications Act accordingly. The United Nations International Telecommunications Union also seems to be out-to-lunch on the matter. Amateurs and other hams, meanwhile, are stunned with the massive prospect of having to serve as an alternative to the commercial communications infrastructure impacted by the emergency with only their meager spectrum allocations, imported radios, and covenant-imposed antenna restrictions. That is a very ambitious objective, indeed.

   Meanwhile, Section 97.113 has been amended to authorize a Section 97.103 station licensee or Section 97.105 control operator to participate on behalf of an employer in an emergency preparedness or disaster readiness test or drill. Such participation obviously entails some serious commercial communications.

   All of this is far beyond the notion that our amateur service is a spectrum sanctuary where duly authorized persons interested in radio technique solely with a personal interest and without pecuniary interest can carry out self-training, intercommunications and technical investigations.

   Could it be that our U.S. amateur service community is being set up for a spectrum takeover?

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   In places where the Federal Communications Commission is our regulator, the rules for our amateur radio and amateur-satellite radio services are codified within the United States Code of Federal Regulations Title 47. They reside primarily in Part 97. Parts 0, 1, 2, 17, and 214 also contain rules that apply to us. They latest can be viewed online via the e-CFR. This site contains a series of reports based upon questions and answers concerning those rules.   

   Our rules are not catalogues of restrictions. They are first and foremost permissions. Our regulator expects our United States amateur service community to utilize our allocated spectrum as an alternative to the commercial communications infrastructure impacted by an emergency.

   With lesser priority, they also still make it possible for amateurs, that is duly authorized persons interested in radio technique solely with a personal aim and without pecuniary interest, to carry out self-training, intercommunications, and technical investigations.

   Our rules were originally modeled on 19th century wireline telegrapher practices. During the 20th century, they were continuously adapted to emerging radio technology, with heavy reliance upon the control operator of each station observing accepted good practices. The 21st century promises smarter radio technology that should enable relaxation of that overbearing dependence upon cooperative human behavior.

   Thanks to everyone who posed the questions and to those insightful hams who provided answers, advice, views, details, editing, encouragement, and all sorts of support in making it possible.

  The topics are:

     No. 1 Basics

     No. 2 License Examinations

     No. 3 Compliance

     No. 4 Station Identification Announcements

     No. 6 Third Party Message-Stating Participants

     No. 5 Club Stations

     No. 7 Providing Emergency Communications (“EmComm”)

     No. 8 Special Operations


Q. As an amateur, it is very upsetting for me to see commercial activity creeping into our amateur radio service. It began to go off course following the 1993 Report and Order in Docket 92-136. Recent events show how important it is for it to be rescinded. Discussion Paragraphs 6 and 7 in that R&O are now being misused to “interpret” the outcome in some highly commercial contexts. I want my ham radio back!

A. That Docket addressed amendments to Part 97 that relaxed restrictions on the scope of permissible communications in our amateur service. Our regulator had proposed to amend the rules so as to permit greater flexibility for amateur stations while transmitting communications for public service projects and personal matters. All of this with the expectation of not altering in any way the nature and purpose of our amateur service. At that time, FCC-licensed amateur stations had been prohibited outright from transmitting any communications the purpose of which was to facilitate the business or commercial affairs on any party, or as an alternative to other authorized radio services.

   Rules codified in the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations are the rules. They mean what they say. “Interpreters” should be highly suspect. At best, their pontifications are often no more than their guess as to what someone might or might not get away with during a certain period in time. Sometimes, they are just their wishful thoughts. In truth, not even FCC staffers can overrule the rules adopted by their POTUS-appointed superiors, the FCC Commissioners.

   If there was an error in implementing a past decision, that should have been promptly addressed in a Petition for Reconsideration. A quarter century later, however, it would probably be best to revisit the issue with a new Petition for Rule Making. It might, for instance, be built upon evidence of how our regulator’s 1993 expectations have not been realized, how our amateur service community has radically changed, and how it is being damaged by Section 97.113.

For more Q/A on the amateur/commercial shifting line-in-the-sand dilemma, read:

   Can I Take a Paying Job at an Amateur Station? BE Informed No. 1.5;

   What Is an Amateur Station? BE Informed No. 1.15;

   It’s All About $pectrum - What Is Our Purpose Now ? BE Informed No. 1.17;

   Selling Stuff Over Ham Radio BE Informed No. 1.19;

   Am I Still an Amateur? BE Informed No. 1.20;

   Spectrum Management in Our Amateur Service BE Informed No. 1.25;

   Just A Little Bit Commercial BE Informed No. 1.26; and

   Section 97.113 Smell Test for Amateurs and Professional Communicators (Hams) BE Informed No. 3.0.

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What Was That Callsign?

   Contact Radio Amateur Callsign Historian Pete Varounis NL7XM before tossing out any old Callbook Magazine!  "Pete the Greek" offers us an old amateur station call sign lookup service.  He will find a first license date as shown in his extensive collection.  E-mail to twelvevdc@aol.com.

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File amateur radio interference complaint with the FCC: CLICK


   The quickest, easiest, and inexpensive way is to memorize the VEs' questions and the VECs' answers in BE Informed No. 2.9.1 W3BE's NOTES - Get Your Call Sign. Take/retake the free on-line practice examinations until you pass consistently. Then visit a VE session for a license examination.  

Read the Rules - Heed the Rules!

  Our ham radio is an internationally recognized hobby. It is comprised of millions of amateur operators worldwide who must know how to cause or allow their amateur stations to transmit properly. We utilize electromagnetic radiation technology that knows no political borders. We are, consequently, subject to wide ranging domestic and international regulation. A working knowledge of the relevant rules is essential to not endangering ourselves, our families, or our neighbors; and to not disrupting other radio communications.

What are the penalties for violating the rules?

   (a) If the FCC finds that you have willfully or repeatedly violated the Communications Act or the FCC Rules, you may have to pay as much as $10,000 for each violation, up to a total of $75,000. (See Section 503(b) of the Communications Act.)

   (b) If the FCC finds that you have violated any section of the Communications Act or the FCC Rules, you may be ordered to stop whatever action caused the violation. (See Section 312(b) of the Communications Act.)

   (c) If a Federal court finds that you have willfully and knowingly violated any FCC Rule, you may be fined up to $500 for each day you committed the violation. (See Section 502 of the Communications Act.)

   (d) If a Federal court finds that you have willfully and knowingly violated any provision of the Communications Act, you may be fined up to $10,000, or you may be imprisoned for one year, or both. (See Section 501 of the Communications Act.)

[48 FR 24890, June 3, 1983, as amended at 57 FR 40343, Sept. 3, 1992]

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