W3BE'S BE Informed!
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BE Informed No. 1.21

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Who Can Use

My Ham Station?

John B. Johnston W3BE

Q. Who - other than the control operators that I choose to designate - can use my ham station?

A. If, by your term use my ham station, you mean a third party entrusting to you his/her message for transmission relay, the answer is: almost anyone. Section 97.115(a) authorizes your Section 97.5 amateur station to transmit messages for a third party to certain other stations. Unless the person is otherwise prohibited by Section 97.115(b)(2), he/she may even participate in stating his/her message where your Section 97.105 control operator is present at your station's Section 97.3(a)(14) control point and is continuously monitoring and supervising his/her Section 97.115(b) third party participation.

   In the instance of your Section 97.5 amateur station, obviously, its transmission of every message is the prerogative of you, the Section 97.103 station licensee. It is you who is responsible for the proper operation of the station in accordance with the rules. You must designate your station’s Section 97.105 control operator; and you must make your station and your station records available for inspection upon request by an FCC representative.

Q. Other than persons not accepted by me, who can't use my amateur station?

A. Section 97.115(b)(2) prohibits a third party from participating in stating her/his message where he/she is a prior amateur service licensee whose license was revoked or not renewed after hearing and re-licensing has not taken place; suspended for less than the balance of the license term and the suspension is still in effect; suspended for the balance of the license term and re-licensing has not taken place; or surrendered for cancellation following notice of revocation, suspension or monetary forfeiture proceedings. The Section 97.115(b)(2) third party may not be the subject of a cease and desist order which relates to amateur service operation and which is still in effect.

Q. In addition to self-training, intercommunication and technical investigations, what other uses are authorized?

A. Section 97.113(b) authorizes Section 97.5 amateur stations to provide communications directly related to the immediate safety of human life or the protection of property to broadcasters for dissemination to the public where no other means of communication is reasonably available before or at the time of the event. 

   Section 97.113(c) authorizes Section 97.5 amateur stations to retransmit propagation and weather forecast information intended for use by the general public and originated from United States Government stations, and communications, including incidental music, originating on U.S. Government frequencies between a manned spacecraft and its associated Earth stations. Prior approval for manned spacecraft communications retransmissions must be obtained from NASA. Such retransmissions must be for the exclusive use of amateur radio operators. Propagation, weather forecasts, and manned spacecraft communications retransmissions may not be conducted on a regular basis, but only occasionally, as an incident of normal amateur radio communications.

   Section 97.113(a)(3)(i) authorizes an amateur station licensee or control station operator to participate on behalf of an employer in an emergency preparedness or disaster readiness test or drill, limited to the duration and scope of such test or drill, and operational testing immediately prior to such test or drill.

   In Part 97 Subpart E, there are four authorizations for providing emergency communications. They include: Section 97.401 Operation during a disaster; Section 97.403 Safety of life and protection of property; Section 97.405 Station in distress; and Section 97.407(c) Radio amateur civil emergency service.

Q. A friend wants to use my station during a contest. HW NW?

A. Then, you - the Section 97.103 station licensee - must designate your friend as your station's

Section 97.105 control operator for your desired contest period. As Section 97.7 says: When transmitting, each amateur station must have a control operator. The control operator must be a person (a) For whom an amateur operator/primary station license grant appears on the ULS consolidated licensee database, or (b) Who is authorized for alien reciprocal operation by Section 97.107.

Q. But he is not a ham. He doesn't need to know all of that VE stuff because will be using my station.

A. Not so according to our regulators. The elemental international regulation is codified in ITU-R M. 1544 minimum qualifications of radio amateurs. It recommends (1) That administrations take such measures as they judge necessary to verify the operational and technical qualifications of any person wishing to operate an amateur station; and (2) That any person seeking a license to operate an amateur station should demonstrate (certain) theoretical knowledge. 

   In places where the FCC regulates our amateur service, those international regulations are satisfied in Section 97.503: A written examination must be such as to prove that the examinee possesses the operational and technical qualifications required to perform properly the duties of an amateur service licensee. The examination question pools represent what it is that our VEs consider necessary to know.       

Q. Is there any other way he can use my station without obtaining a license?

A. There is the VPOD (Verbalizing Person or Device) Protocol theory. It hypothesizes that because Section 97.3(c)(5) does not limit who or what provides the speech and other sounds during a phone emission transmission by a Section 97.5 amateur station, non- and under-licensed persons can verbalize the messages as well as the designated Section 97.105 control operator.

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October 13, 2016

Supersedes all prior editions