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BE Informed No. 1.9

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One, Two, and

Third Party Communications

John B. Johnston W3BE

Q. Our Club officers have some very creative interpretations of the FCC rules for third party communications. Please clarify just what it is all about.

A. It might be helpful to better accept and respect the rules for Section 97.115 third party communications by first having a solid understanding of the rules for Section 97.111(b) one party and Section 97.111(a) two party communications.

   One party communications are one-way amateur station transmissions of messages for which no response from another amateur station is necessarily expected. Section 97.111(b) says: In addition to one-way transmissions specifically authorized elsewhere in this part, an amateur station may transmit the following types of one-way communications:

   (1) Brief transmissions necessary to make adjustments to the station;

   (2) Brief transmissions necessary to establishing two-way communications with other stations;

   (3) Telecommand;

   (4) Transmissions necessary to providing emergency communications;

   (5) Transmissions necessary to assisting persons learning, or improving proficiency in, the international Morse code; and

  (6) Transmissions necessary to disseminate information bulletins.

  (7) Transmissions of telemetry.

   First, consider an FCC-licensed amateur station transmitting Section 97.111(b) one-way communications from a place where the FCC regulates our amateur service. These transmissions are not intended for reception by the general public, either direct or delayed. Section 97.113(b) prohibits amateur stations from Section 97.3(a)(10) broadcasting to the general public on amateur service frequencies.

   The call sign transmitted in its Section 97.119 station identification announcements establish the Section 97.103 station licensee. It is the duty of that station licensee to designate the Section 97.105 control operator. The designated control operator should be positioned at the station’s Section 97.109(b) control point. Section 97.3(a)(14) says the control point is the location at which the control operator function is performed. When the control operator causes or allows the station to transmit, he or she takes on certain duties. All operational and technical decisions and actions necessary to ensure the immediate proper operation of the station are the exclusive duties of the control operator. Our volunteer examiners have previously certified that the person is qualified to perform these duties properly.

   Section 97.7 says that the control operator must be a person for whom an amateur operator/primary station license grant appears on the ULS consolidated licensee database, or who is authorized for alien reciprocal operation. Section 97.3(a)(13) says that the control operator is an amateur operator designated by the licensee of the station to be responsible for the transmissions from that station to assure compliance with the FCC rules. The class of operator license held by the Section 97.105 control operator determines the Section 97.301 transmitting frequency privileges of the station.

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   Next, consider an FCC-licensed amateur station transmitting two-way Section 97.111(a) two or more party communications from a place where the FCC regulates our amateur service. Messages are sent from the Section 97.105 control operator (first party) positioned at the Section 97.109(b) control point of the transmitting station. The messages are directed to the control operator (second party) at another amateur station. When the other second party’s station is located at a place other than place where the FCC regulates our amateur service, it should be configured as allowed by the regulatory authority in charge. Section 97.111(a) authorizes these two-way transmissions:

      (1) Transmissions necessary to exchange messages with other stations in the amateur service, except those in any country whose administration has given notice that it objects to such communications. The FCC will issue public notices of current arrangements for international communications;

      (2) Transmissions necessary to exchange messages with a station in another FCC-regulated service while providing emergency communications;

      (3) Transmissions necessary to exchange messages with a United States government station, necessary to providing communications in RACES; and

      (4) Transmissions necessary to exchange messages with a station in a service not regulated by the FCC, but authorized by the FCC to communicate with amateur stations. An amateur station may exchange messages with a participating United States military station during an Armed Forces Day Communications Test.

   Section 97.117 says: Transmissions to a different country, where permitted, shall be limited to communications incidental to the purposes of the amateur service and to remarks of a personal character. Section 97.3(a)(4) says our amateur service is a radiocommunication service for the purpose of self-training, intercommunication and technical investigations carried out by amateurs, that is, duly authorized persons interested in radio technique solely with a personal aim and without pecuniary interest.

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   Finally, consider Section 97.3(a)(47). It defines Section 97.115 third party communications as a message from the control operator (first party) of an amateur station to another amateur station control operator (second party) on behalf of another person (third party). Section 97.115(a) authorizes an amateur station to transmit messages for a third party to:

     (1) Any station within the jurisdiction of the United States.

     (2) Any station within the jurisdiction of any foreign government when transmitting emergency or disaster relief communications and any station within the jurisdiction of any foreign government whose administration has made arrangements with the United States to allow amateur stations to be used for transmitting international communications on behalf of third parties. No station shall transmit messages for a third party to any station within the jurisdiction of any foreign government whose administration has not made such an arrangement. This prohibition does not apply to a message for any third party who is eligible to be a control operator of the station.

   At the discretion of the control operator, a third party - if otherwise eligible - may participate in stating his/her message under the authority 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.

   The FCC rules do not authorize any privileges to a third party. Should the third party, therefore, desire to “operate” the station, the Section 97.103 station licensee must – at his/her discretion - designate her/him – if otherwise eligible - as the Section 97.105 control operator.

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November 28, 2016

Supersedes all prior editions