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. Not in those exact words. Our amateur service community deems the Internet to be “another telecommunication service,” and as such, is eligible for utilization as a Section 97.213(a) wireline control link.

Q. I have a remotely controlled station in suburban Chicago. My friend has a ham license in the United Kingdom. Can he 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.

W3BE-O-GRAM:  Section 97.109(a) says that each amateur station must have at least one control point, so it is a part of the station. That raises the issue of whether 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.

   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. 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.

   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. For those periods when our repeater 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 be a repeater?

A. No. It would not be a Section 97.205 repeater station during times when it is not communicating as: An amateur station that simultaneously retransmits the transmission of another amateur station on a different channel or channels. See the definition codified in Section 97.3(a)(40).

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 there. 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 being transmitted on 20-meters by a 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 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 2, 2017

Supersedes all prior editions