W3BE'S BE Informed!
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BE Informed No. 8.5

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The Internet


Part 97

John B. Johnston W3BE

Q.  Section 97.213 says: A control link using a fiber cable or another telecommunication service is considered a wireline. Does this rule also authorize our amateur stations to be connected with the Internet?

A. No, it doesn’t do that. Part 97 neither authorizes nor prohibits an amateur station from being connected with the Internet. The Internet is a worldwide system of interconnected computer networks that has opened up opportunities to provide a long haul communications capability within our HF/VHF/UHF systems. The Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) has been especially useful.

   Section 97.213 telecommand (remote control) applies only to the use of a Section 97.213(a) wireline control link between a Section 97.5 amateur station and its Section 97.109(a) control point.  

Q. I have a remotely controlled station in suburban Chicago. My friend has a ham license in the United Kingdom. Can he legitimately be the control operator of my station from England via the Internet? 

A. Yes, as long as you – the Section 97.103 station licensee – designate him as the Section 97.105 control operator of your station. The U.S. and the U.K. have a reciprocal operating arrangement. Section 97.5 and Section 97.107 authorize your U.K. friend to be either or both the station licensee and/or the control operator of an amateur station in places where the FCC regulates our amateur service. Here are your choices:

   Choice One: The station transmits your primary station call sign in the Section 97.119 station identification announcement. This establishes you as the Section 97.103 station licensee, responsible for the proper operation of the station. You and your friend are both accountable for the duties of its Section 97.105 control operator being performed properly. The FCC will presume that you, the station licensee, are also the control operator unless there is documentation to the contrary. So, keep a written record.

   Choice Two: Relinquish Section 97.5(a) physical control of the station apparatus to your U.K. friend. This establishes your friend alone as being responsible for performing properly the duties of both the station licensee and its control operator. You are not accountable. The station should transmit your friend’s U.K.-assigned station call sign, appended with identifier /W9/ to his U.K. call sign in the Section 97.119 station identification announcements.

Q. May the control point for my station near Chicago be located outside the United States?

A. Provisionally yes. The issue of whether or not the Section 97.109(a) control point of a station that is transmitting from a place where the FCC regulates the amateur service can be located in another country, however, is not specifically addressed in our rules. If it ever is, the decision could be negatively influenced by a specific situation - an international crisis, perhaps - prevailing at the time.

   Section 97.109(a) says that each amateur station must have at least one control point, so it is a part of the station. There exists the basis for eventually declaring that the Section 97.109(a) must also be at a place where the FCC regulates our amateur service. Our security providers may not always appreciate our tolerance for there being amateur stations transmitting from within our United States that are licensed and controlled by persons who are beyond their reach in other countries. Most hams probably prefer that the current permissive arrangement be codified before some over-imaginative ham becomes way too clever for our own good.

   Section 97.101(a) says: In all respects not specifically covered by FCC Rules, each amateur station must be operated in accordance with good engineering and good amateur practice. For these reasons, OTA29 in Geps & Gaps says: Each remotely controlled station should have at least one control point at a place where the FCC regulates our amateur service.

Q. How could he possibly have physical control of my station apparatus while he is a continent away?

A. He could make arrangements with someone – maybe you - to do it for him. 

Q. I am a fan of EchoLink and IRLP. How does my situation apply in a system where I come out on an RF link inside of the U.S. without physically being in the U.S. at the time?

A. The terms EchoLink and IRLP (Internet Radio Linking Project) do not appear in Part 97. If your FCC license grant appears on the ULS, or if you are authorized for Section 97.107 alien control operator privileges, you may be the Section 97.105 control operator of an amateur station transmitting from a place where the FCC regulates our amateur service. You may also be its Section 97.103 station licensee.

   The only other possibility is for the Section 97.105 control operator of an amateur station to cause a Section 97.115 third party message to be transmitted for you. You may participate in stating the message where the control operator is present at the station control point and is continuously monitoring and supervising your participation.

Q. For those periods when the station is retransmitting messages being received via the Internet, it would not be retransmitting the transmission of another amateur station on a different channel or channels. Would it still be a repeater?

A. No. It would be a non-special operations amateur station that retransmits messages obtained via the Internet, most likely either a locally controlled or a remotely controlled base station.

Q. Could the control point be in the other country, with the station being under telecommand by relying upon the Internet as the wireline control link with the station?

A. Yes, as long as that is the decision of the Section 97.103 station licensee.

Q. Who is the station licensee?

A. The Section 97.103 station licensee is the person whose name and mailing address appears on the ULS for the call sign given in the Section 97.119 station identification announcement. In the case of a station transmitting under Section 97.107 reciprocal authority, consult the authorities in the county issuing the license.

Q. I use Echolink as a client, not in sysop or repeater mode. In this case I have a long mike cable but no control over the transmitter. When using a station in another country, do CEPT, reciprocal agreements, etc. not apply because I cannot be a control operator? Is my USA call sign alone sufficient to identify, or do I identify as though I were in that country (except every 10 minutes if that country allows less often)? How do I know which other USA and per-country rules are in effect for a given station?

A. The regulations in force in the county where the radio transmissions take place would apply. Check with the authorities in the countries of interest. Were the transmissions to occur in place where the FCC regulates our amateur service, for example, you obviously could not be the Section 97.105 control operator during times while you have no capability to control the station.

Q. A Technician Class operator here in Florida told me that he was joining our phone net by going through the Internet and coming out on a 20-meter station in Pennsylvania.  He said there was no control operator at the PA station, so he was going to use his own call sign. Would this be permissible?

A. No. Section 97.301 authorizes transmitting frequency bands and segments to an amateur station according to the class of operator license grant held by its Section 97.105 control operator. It shows no 20-meter frequency bands or segments being authorized to an amateur station holding a Technician Class operator. If a station without a control operator is transmitting on our 20-meter band from any place where the FCC regulates our amateur service, our Maintenance Monitors should be alerted promptly.

Q. May a Technician Class operator use a club station to access 20 meters through the IRLP?

A. No. Section 97.301 does not show any segment of the 20-meter band as being available to a FCC-licensed amateur station having a Section 97.105 control operator who has been granted a Technician Class operator license. That band is available only to General, Advanced, and Amateur Extra Class operators. 

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August 20, 2016

Supersedes all prior editions