W3BE'S BE Informed!
ALTERNATIVES TO VE CERTIFICATION
 
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BE Informed No. 5.0

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Alternates to VE-certification

John B. Johnston W3BE

Q. I worked hard to get my license. Now I am aware of operators on our ham bands who did not pass exams. What gives?

A. Alternatives to VE-certification protocols (“AVEPs”) are springing up that slash examination preparation, administration, and coordination administrative delays dramatically.

Q. What is an AVEP?

A. Apparently, it is some sort of protocol where a VE-certified Section 97.105 control operator entrusts his/her knowledge and privileges onto un- or under-licensed operators. Sometimes it is accomplished orally on-the spot.      

Q. Where are AVEPs authorized in the rules?

A. They aren’t specifically authorized yet. They seem to be mainly based upon a convoluted reading of Section 97.115(b). It says: The third party may participate in stating the message where:

   (1) The control operator is present at the control point and is continuously monitoring and supervising the third party's participation; and

   (2) The third party is not a prior amateur service licensee whose license was revoked or not renewed after hearing and re-licensing has not taken place; suspended for less than the balance of the license term and the suspension is still in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 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. A young non-ham recently checked into our 2-Meter training net. He was a Scout working toward the Radio Merit Badge. His father is K4***, the call sign the young man used. He was present, monitoring his son’s activity and insuring that proper procedure was used. I am being informed that the father - as the control operator - was supposed to both open and close the transmission using his own voice to state his call sign. True? Who has to identify the station? Is it the control operator or is it the third party?  

A. Not necessarily either person. The responsibility for a Section 97.5 station transmitting the Section 97.119(a) station identification announcement ends up with the Section 97.103 station licensee making certain that the station transmits its assigned call sign on its transmitting channel at the end of each communication, and at least every 10 minutes during a communication, for the purpose of clearly making the source of the transmissions from the station known to those receiving the transmissions. There is no “how-to” rule for this.

Q. What about the propriety of the non-ham son being the AVEP control operator?

A. The father should be able to determine whether his son’s participation – as a Section 97.115(b) third party message speaking participant is appropriate:

   Firstly, he should know whether his son’s participation is being continuously monitored and supervised by the Section 97.105 control operator whose presence is supposed to be at the Section 97.3(a)(14) control point.

   Secondly, he should know whether his son is not 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.

   Thirdly, he should know whether his son is not the subject of a cease and desist order which relates to amateur service operation and which is still in effect.

   Fourthly, he should know whether his son does not wish to operate the amateur station. ITU-R M. 1544 codifies recommendations for the minimum qualifications of radio amateurs. First on the list is: 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. If the son wishes to operate the station, therefore, he should obtain a Section 97.5(b)(1) operator/primary station license grant.

   Additionally, there is the unlikelihood that his son's Section 97.115(b) third party message speaking participant communications - being transmitted on the 2-meter VHF band - will encounter any station within the jurisdiction of any foreign government whose administration has not made arrangements with the United States to allow amateur stations to be used for transmitting international communications on behalf of third parties.

   Finally, there is the issue of the salty language sometimes encountered on our ham bands. Most notorious for this disparaging behavior are our R-rated 75, 40, and 20 meter bands. Whether a minor should be introduced into such social conduct is something for only the parents to decide. Here, it was the father doing the facilitating.

Q. That “anything goes" mindset is destructive, as is that "everyone gets Amateur Extra Class privileges" and the other nonsense that goes with Field Day. Should our once-valued protection against encroachment by unqualified communicators become routinely compromised, there may be no U-turn on the superhighway to our amateur radio morphing into CB on steroids. 

A. Our future is in the sights of our amateur service community organizers. They seem to be focused currently on the needs of the next generation of hams.

Q. Radios imported from Asia do not need technically knowledgeable operators. They are highly reliable and have the most important rule limitations (power, channels, emission types) built in. The VEs’ exams are unnecessary and that father and the contest hams know it.

A. They are very affordable. 

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October 14, 2017

Supersedes all prior editions