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What Is An
John B. Johnston W3BE
What exactly is an amateur station?
A. In places where the FCC regulates our amateur service, there is SEC. 3. [47 USC 153](2) of the Communications Act. It is supposed to be the final authority. It says the term “amateur station” means a radio station
operated by a duly authorized person interested in radio technique solely with a personal aim and without pecuniary interest.
In Section 2.1(a) of the FCC rules, it says: Where a term or definition appears in this part of the Commission's Rules, it shall be the
definitive term or definition and shall prevail throughout the Commission's Rules. For the term Amateur Station,
it simply means A station in the amateur service. Then it goes on to define the term Amateur Service: A
radiocommunication service for the purpose of self-training, intercommunication and technical investigations carried out by
amateurs, that is, by duly authorized persons interested in radio technique solely with a personal aim and without pecuniary
interest. The source of the definition is claimed to be the ITU Radio Regulations.
Additionally, it defines the
term Amateur-Satellite Service: A radiocommunication service using space stations on earth satellites for the same purposes
as those of the amateur service.
Section 2.1(c) defines the term station to mean: One or more transmitters or receivers or a combination of transmitters and
receivers, including the accessory equipment, necessary at one location for carrying on a radiocommunication service, or the
radio astronomy service. Note: Each station shall be classified by the service in which it operates permanently or temporarily.
Finally, there is our Section 97.3(a)(5). It says the term Station as used in our Part 97 means A station in an amateur radio service consisting of the apparatus necessary for carrying on radio-communications.
Q. How many amateur radio services are there?
A. In places where the FCC regulates, there are three. Our Section 97.3(a)(4) amateur service and amateur-satellite service are international in scope. The third, our Section 97.407 RACES (radio amateur civil emergency service), is supposed to be an area-wide, government-managed radio service utilizing our Section 97.301 radio spectrum, our Section 97.3(a)(1) amateur operators, and our Section 97.3(a)(5) amateur stations.
Q. But being a person interested in
radio technique solely with a personal aim and without pecuniary interest is not a condition of being granted an FCC license.
A. Right. A declaration
of one’s proper intent is not a requisite for a FCC amateur service license grant. Our regulator obviously opts for
trying to preserve the legitimacy of our amateur service by authorizing certain transmissions in Section 97.111 and prohibiting certain other communications in Section 97.113.
Q. Does the station licensee
have to be the owner of all of the station apparatus?
A. No. The Section 97.103 station licensee must, however, have sufficient Section 97.5(a) physical control of the station apparatus necessary to carry out the his/her responsibilities for the proper operation of the station in accordance
with the FCC rules.
Q. Is the control point a part of
its associated amateur station?
Yes. Each Section 97.3(a)(5) amateur station must have at least one Section 97.109(a) control point.
Q. What exactly is the control point?
A. Section 97.3(a)(14) defines that to be the location at which the control operator function is performed. OTA14 proffers: The word “point” usually refers to a narrowly localized place having a precisely indicated position.
In this context, the control operator must be situated such as to be able to exercise proper judgment while doing
those things that the control operator does: view and interpret all indicators showing the status of the regulated transmitting
parameters; manipulate appropriately the apparatus dials and switches controlling of these parameters; ensure that the message
content of each transmission is appropriate for the amateur service; making certain that the channel is not already occupied
before transmitting; etc.
the control point always have to be co-located with the rest of the station apparatus?
A. Not while the station is being Section 97.213 remotely controlled. Any Section 97.5 amateur station may be Section 97.213 remotely controlled. In such instances, the Section 97.109 control point and the designated Section 97.105 control operator are located at some distance from the rest of the station apparatus.
Q. Does an amateur station’s control point also have to be situated at a place where
the FCC regulates our amateur service?
One prevailing assumption seems to be that it does not for a remotely controlled FCC-licensed amateur station utilizing the
Internet as its Section 97.213 wireline point-to-point control link. That theory, however, is not explicitly confirmed – or prohibited - in our rules. If it ever comes into question,
a negative decision could be triggered by an unfortunate situation influencing our regulator’s judgment at the time.
Most of us therefore prefer that
our assumption be confirmed and codified before some over-imaginative high risk-taking ham becomes way too clever for our
own good. For example, our homeland security authorities may not view favorably radio stations that are transmitting from
places where the FCC regulates our amateur service being remotely controlled by foreigners at locations beyond our authorities’ jurisdiction.
Q. What are the duties of the control operator?
A. The designated Section 97.105 control operator is the person responsible for the transmissions from that amateur station, including causing/allowing the station to transmit
radio communications properly and preventing any prohibited transmissions.
Q. Does the station licensee have to be present at the station’s transmitting site?
A. Not necessarily. All Section 97.5 station apparatus, however, should be under the physical control of the Section 97.103 station licensee before the station may transmit on any amateur service frequency from any place that is within 50 km of the Earth's surface
and at a place where the amateur service is regulated by the FCC. But that obligation can oftentimes be satisfied even
while the station licensee is absent from the station’s transmitting site.
Q. What is a base station?
A. Section 2.1(a) defines the term base station - at least as used in the FCC rules - as A land station in the land mobile service.
It then defines the term Land Station as: A station in the mobile service not intended to be used while
in motion. See Part 90 Private Land Mobile Radio Services. Certain two-way VHF and UHF radios are adaptable across several other radio services. This has become increasing so with
the availability of software defined radios. Caution! There is a speedbump up ahead. Just because an SDR is usable in amateur
stations, doesn’t necessarily make it similarly acceptable in other FCC-regulated radio services wherein the use of
non-certificated units is disallowed.
Does anyone have to be present at the station’s transmitting site?
A. No, unless human presence is necessary to the Section 97. 103 station licensee maintaining physical control of the Section 97.5(a) station apparatus. The Section 97.105 control operator, moreover, must be at the station’s Section 97.109(a) control point. While the station is being Section 97.109(b) locally controlled, its Section 97.109(a) control point is supposed to be co-located with the other station apparatus at the transmitting site.
Q. Can there be multiple amateur stations transmitting
from the same location using the same call sign?
A. Yes. The rules, at least, do not place a numerical limit on the number of amateur stations at
any one location all transmitting the same call sign in their Section 97.119 station identification announcement. There is, however, Section 97.103(a). It says “The station licensee is responsible for the proper operation of the station in accordance with the FCC
Rules.” So, it is the Section 97.103 station licensee who must decide on how much responsibility he/she is willing to manage concurrently.
Q. Can multiple amateur stations transmit simultaneously from the same location, or
multiple locations, all with the same call sign?
A. Yes, provided all of the station apparatus is under the Section 97. 5(a) physical control of the Section 97.103 station licensee as exposed in the Section 97.119 station identification announcement.
Section 97.103 station licensee must also designate the Section 97.105 control operator of each station. That designation, therefore, could carry the stipulation that the designated Section 97.105 control operator will also carry out the Section 97.5 physical control duty on behalf of the Section 97.103 station licensee. The FCC, however, will presume that the Section 97.103 station licensee is also the designated Section 97.105 control operator, unless documentation to the contrary is in the station records.
Q. Does an amateur station’s apparatus also include all of its antennas?
A. Yes. All of the antennas necessary
at one location for carrying on radio-communications are accessory apparatus. All of the station’s radiating and/or
receiving elements, their supporting structures, and any appurtenances mounted thereon, necessary for carrying on radio-communications,
constitutes the antenna structure. Read Section 17.2(a).
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July 27, 2016
Supersedes all previous editions