W3BE'S BE Informed!
Home1.0 W3BE Checklists1.1 RF Safety1.2 Antenna Structures1.3 Quiet Zones1.4 60 Meter Privileges1.5 Take A Paying Job?1.6 Hams At Sea1.7 Imported 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 What Is Our Purpose Now?1.18 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 Commercial1.27 What is CW?2.0 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?2.12 Former Hams2.13 The Hunt for 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 License Grant2.19 Enough Operator Classes?3.0 Smell Tests3.1 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 ID4.4 Make the Source Known4.5 Indicator Schedule4.6 Special Event 1 by 14.7 Non-Appended Indicator4.8 Club Station ID5.0 Alternatives To Exams5.3 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 Control, Telecommand & Part 978.3 Frequency Coordination8.4 Automatic Control & Part 978.5 The Internet & Part 978.6 Beacons & Part 978.7 Automatic Control & Part 978.8 Frequency Coordination & Part 9710.0 Comments in RM-1170810.2 Deceased's Call Sign10.3 A New Era for Ham Radio10.4 New Era Q/A10.5 Four Operator Classes10.6 Novice ArtifactQUIZ

BE Informed No. 1.8.4

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These are dangerous times

Hear Something – Say Something

John B. Johnston W3BE

Q. We had to pass tests to prove that we have the right stuff that our VEs deem necessary to performing properly the duties of an amateur service licensee in places where the FCC regulates our amateur service. But reciprocal hams are excused from those tests. Our VEs’ questions, moreover, are taken from the pools maintained by the very same VECs’ who want to make our amateur service available to as many citizens as possible. So foreign national citizens are empowered to grab up good FCC call signs by taking advantage of our VECs’ highly ambitious goal for recruiting citizen-operators.

A. Our regulator should be aware that a few companies in Asia manufacture most of our amateur radios. Hams worldwide, utilize many of the same brands and models to conduct their Section 97.117 international communications. Currently, there are no countries banned from intercommunicating with amateur stations in our United States.

   Moreover, ITU-R M.1544 minimum qualifications of radio amateurs 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. In places where the FCC regulates our amateur service, this work is outsourced to our volunteer examiners.

   2. That any person seeking a license to operate an amateur station should demonstrate theoretical (i.e., hypothetical, academic, notional, imaginary, conjectural, speculative, abstract) knowledge of: Radio Regulations (international, domestic); Methods of radio communication (radiotelephony, radio telegraphy, data and image); Radio system theory (transmitters, receivers, antennas and propagation, measurements); Radio emission safety, Electromagnetic compatibility; and Avoidance and resolution of radio frequency interference.

    These interactions should make for reasonable expectations that the rules for our amateur service in the various reciprocal countries match up well enough with our FCC Part 97 as to not make any significant difference.

Q. How many foreign ham operators are located in places where the FCC regulates our service?

A. No one knows. Our amateur service community doesn’t have even a clue. Neither might our regulator.

Q. Have any undocumented aliens residing in our United States received a FCC call sign?

A. Possibly - maybe even probably. Applicants/licensees are not asked to prove – or even disclose - their nationality.

Q. Alien hams – Section 97.107 reciprocal or FCC-licensed - are free to cause or allow amateur stations to transmit from places where the FCC regulates our service. Don’t all of these foreign hams causing radio transmissions around our country pose a security risk to us?

A. Apparently not enough to warrant action. The FCC has a Public Safety & Homeland Security Bureau for such matters. Our Maintenance Monitors, moreover, seem unconcerned about their inability to interact with resident aliens.

Q. Can foreign nationals prepare and administer the examinations for FCC license grants?

A. Yes, if they are otherwise qualified. Read Section 97.525(b). It says that no volunteer-examiner coordinator may discriminate in accrediting a volunteer examiner on the basis of national origin.

Q. Why is this being done to us?

A. One reason is likely that those hams from our U.S. amateur service community who travel to foreign lands can sometimes carry on their amateur service activities there more conveniently under an existing reciprocal arrangement. Another reason is that we have VEs who are anxious to bring about regular increases in the number of operator grants – particularly in the burgeoning basic citizen-Technician Operator class - shown on the ULS. They regard growth as proof of successful achievement. The underlying theory must be that there is no limit to the number of stations that can share our amateur radio spectrum allocations nor to the capacity of the FCC licensee database.

Q. How does the FCC get away with surrendering its licensing responsibility to foreign powers?

A. It doesn’t really do that per se. A reciprocal alien’s amateur station permissions are actually codified in Section 97.107 Reciprocal operating authority. It says: A non-citizen of the United States (“alien”) holding an amateur service authorization granted by the alien's government is authorized to be the control operator of an amateur station located at places where the amateur service is regulated by the FCC, provided there is in effect a multilateral or bilateral reciprocal operating arrangement, to which the United States and the alien's government are parties, for amateur service operation on a reciprocal basis.

   The FCC will issue public announcements listing the countries with which the United States has such an arrangement. No citizen of the United States or person holding an FCC amateur operator/primary station license grant is eligible for the reciprocal operating authority granted by this section. The privileges granted to a control operator under this authorization are: (more). (c) At any time the FCC may, in its discretion, modify, suspend or cancel the reciprocal operating authority granted to any person by this section. 

Q. Can a foreign national operate an amateur station in his/her home country under a reciprocal arrangement on the basis of possessing a FCC call sign?

A. That would depend upon the wording in the reciprocal arrangement and the rules/policy in the home country. In our United States, for instance, such is prohibited by Section 97.107. It says No person holding an FCC amateur operator/primary station license grant is eligible for the reciprocal operating authority granted by this section.

Q. Does that mean that an alien can’t have both reciprocal authority and a Section 97.17 ULS license grant?

A. Exactly. An alien having full privileges under a Section 97.107 reciprocal arrangement can forgo some of those privileges in places where the FCC regulates should they obtain a FCC basic Technician or intermediate General Class operator license grant. Holding an expert Amateur Extra Class license is necessary for full privileges.

Q. Our regulator has it backwards. It has our VEs to determine whether its licensees are qualified for amateur service duties. It has its ULS to keep track of the whereabouts of its licensees. But it excuses alien hams from any of this oversight whatsoever. This has to be fixed.

A. The quick fix would be to require FCC license grants for all reciprocal hams. Possibly direct our VEs to give examination credits for the foreign license held by reciprocal hams. Then, the ULS would show all amateur stations/operators eligible for communicating activity in places where the FCC is our regulator. Our amateur service community and our maintenance monitors should have the necessary contact information immediately at hand.

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July 23, 2016

Supersedes all prior editions