W3BE'S BE Informed!
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BE Informed No. 8.0

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Part 97

John B. Johnston W3BE

Q. What is a repeater?

A. Section 97.3(a)(40) defines a repeater – at least as the term is used in Part 97: An amateur station that simultaneously retransmits the transmission of another amateur station on a different channel or channels.

Q. Why do we need a definition of a repeater?

A. Because there are special accommodations for repeaters in Section 97.205 that are exclusively for amateur stations conforming to the definition of a repeater.

Q. An auxiliary station is also an amateur station that simultaneously retransmits the transmission of another amateur station on a different channel or channels. Are they afforded the special privileges for repeaters?

A. No, a Section 97.201 auxiliary station is unique. It is defined in Section 97.3(a)(7)An amateur station, other than in a message forwarding system, that is transmitting communications point-to-point within a system of cooperating amateur stations. The accommodations afforded thereto are tailored specifically to that special operation. For Q/A on this topic, read Auxiliary Stations & Part 97 BE Informed No. 8.1.

Q. A remote base is another amateur station that simultaneously retransmits the transmission of another amateur station on a different channel or channels. Are they afforded the special privileges for repeaters?

A. No, a remote base station should only be intercommunicating with other amateur stations. Any repeating that takes place should be confined to point-to-point (P-T-P) communications within a system of cooperating amateur stations. For Q/A on this topic, read Remote Base & Part 97 BE Informed No. 8.8.

Q. Can the repeater bands be used for simplex station transmissions?

A. Yes. But Section 97.101 cooperation usually requires us to give high priority to our  

Section 97.205 repeaters. OTA21 admonishes: Although non-repeater transmissions are authorized in the various repeater sub-bands, it is good amateur practice for such transmissions to generally give way to a repeater.  

 Q. While traveling in another city, I asked for directions over a repeater. I was told to "get off this frequency – this is a closed repeater!” Don’t repeaters have to be open to all users eligible for the repeater input channel?

A. No. Our repeater providers are not obligated to make their stations available to every possible user. Section 97.205(e) says that limiting the use of a repeater to only certain user stations is permissible. 

   Your Section 97.3(a)(22) frequency coordinator, however, might take into consideration a potential repeater provider’s policy in this regard when recommending transmit/receive channels and associated operating and technical parameters for such stations.

Q. Can our repeater monitors be considered as the control operators of our repeater?  

A. Not unless your Section 97.103 station licensee designates each monitor as the Section 97.105 control operator for a specific time slot.

Q. While our 2-meter repeater is linked with our 10-m repeater, it brings on claims that our 10-meter repeater control operator should not allow 2-meter user stations with Technician class control operators to be repeated onto 10-meters. Correct?

A. That is not prohibited by rule. Section 97.301(a), however authorizes the entire 2-meter band to an amateur station having a Technician Class control operator. So, such stations are entitled to be users of repeater stations receiving in the 2-meter repeater segments. Should the control operator of your 10-meter repeater intend to deny access to it by user 2-meter stations having Technician Class control operators, he/she can exercise the authority provided by Section 97.205(e): limiting the use of a repeater to only certain user stations is permissible. 

Q. But a station with a Technician Class control operator is not authorized to transmit on the 10-meter repeater segment 29.5 – 29.7 MHz.

A. Right. In the instance you describe, however, your 10-meter repeater is supposed to have a Section 97.105 control operator holding a class of operator license higher than Technician. Just because 2-meter transmissions are being retransmitted on the 10-meter repeater does not designate the Section 97.105 control operator of the 2-meter user station as also the Section 97.105 control operator of the 10-meter station.

Q. What about the propriety of a club having a pair of two meter repeaters transmitting simultaneously?  

A. There is no FCC rule as to the maximum number of stations any one Section 97.103 station licensee is authorized. How much responsibility he/she is willing to manage simultaneously under the authority of the same station license is something for that station manager to determine.

Q. Where in the rules do I find the technical standards for repeaters?

A. There are no special technical standards in our rules just for repeaters. Part 97 Subpart D contains the essential technical standards that apply to all of our amateur stations. In fact, it is our amateur service community that establishes detailed standards, such as our repeater channel spacing and input offsets. 

Q. Section 97.205(c) says a 2-meter repeater may receive and retransmit only on two designated segments: 144.5 – 145.5 MHz and 146.0 – 148.0 MHz. May we choose either segment for receive and either segment for transmit?

A. Yes, and our amateur service community has been successful in doing this through careful planning and general observance of its band plans.

Q. CW is a different mode from MCW. But I can't find where the FCC rules say that MCW is a valid method of identifying. May a repeater to use MCW to ID?

A. Yes, it is. Look at Section 97.3(c)(5). The emission type term Phone is defined to include MCW for the purpose of performing the station identification procedure, or for providing telegraphy practice interspersed with speech.

Q. A couple of local amateurs want to set up their dual band VHF/UHF radios for cross-band operation. Doesn’t a dual band radio have to have an IDer in it so when it is operating cross-band it gives the proper ID every 10 minutes just like repeaters do?

A. No amateur station has to have a built-in ID capability, but when transmitting it is required to transmit Section 97.119(a) station identification announcements for the purpose of clearly making the source of the transmissions from the station known to those receiving the transmissions. No station may transmit unidentified communications or signals, or transmit as the station call sign, any call sign not authorized to the station. A dual-band radio configured as a cross-band repeater is such an amateur station. The how-to is something for the Section 97.103 station licensee to determine.

Q. I am the trustee for a local club repeater. I was asked by a local couple if they are permitted to speak in their native Portuguese on the repeater. My understanding is that it is allowed so long as they ID every 10 minutes in English. I was then informed that this is correct if communicating simplex, but not if communicating via repeater.   My main concern is that neither I nor any of our control operators speak Portuguese and therefore cannot maintain control. Right?

A. Right. The Section 97.105 control operator would have to have some way of determining that any communications being transmitted - in a language that he or she does not understand - is compliant with the transmissions authorized in Section 97.111 and that they are not any of the transmissions prohibited by Section 97.113. As for the Section 97.119 station identification announcement, for any FCC-licensed amateur station being identified by a phone emission, it must be in the English language.

Q. As our club station license trustee, I often monitor our repeater just in case a user causes a violation. When I am not available, I rely upon other club members to monitor it. This has worked well for us so far. But should ever a user cause a violation that we could have prevented, who would be accountable?

A. The Section 97.103 station licensee is responsible for the proper operation of the station in accordance with the FCC rules. Section 97.103(b) says the station licensee (you) must designate the station control operator. The FCC will presume that the station licensee (you) is also the control operator unless documentation to the contrary is in the (your) station records. When the control operator is a different amateur operator (not you) than the station licensee (you), then both persons are equally responsible for proper operation of the station.

   You do have some leeway. Section 97.205(g) says that the control operator of a repeater that retransmits inadvertently communications that violate the rules in Part 97 is not accountable for the violative communications.

Q. Our repeater transmits under automatic control. Doesn’t that excuse me from some degree of accountability?

A. No. Section 97.3(a)(6) automatic control is the use of devices and procedures for control of a station when it is transmitting so that compliance with our rules is achieved without the control operator (you) being present at a control point. If your use of devices and procedures isn’t getting the job done properly, you shouldn’t be relying on them. For Q/A on this topic, read Automatic Control & Part 97 BE Informed No. 8.4.

Q. How do repeaters get away with transmitting without a control operator?

A. They should be utilizing the Section 97.109(d) automatic control option. Section 97.205(d) authorizes a repeater to do so. Even then, there is supposed to be a designated  Section 97.105 control operator, but not necessarily stationed at the Section 97.3(a)(14) control point.

Q. I can’t find anything in Part 97 to cover this: Two interconnected repeaters with different call signs. Each one repeats the call sign of the other. Is that OK?

A. It can be. There is no rule prohibiting interconnected repeaters but there is a how-to challenge in making proper Section 97.119 station identification announcements. No station may transmit as the station call sign any call sign not assigned to the station. It must be made clear for our Maintenance Monitors and other listeners which call sign is for which station.

Q. So, repeater A retransmits the signals originating from repeater B.  Each repeater has their own specific call sign ID but the ID of repeater B is also being transmitted on repeater A. Listeners are hearing both call signs. So, how are the maintenance monitors and listeners to determine who is responsible for transmissions from a specific station transmitter?

A. The how-to is something else for the Section 97.103 station licensees to provide a workable solution.  

Q.  Our club would like to implement a VHF repeater linked with an HF repeater.  Section 97.205(b), however, does not authorize any segment in any HF band where a repeater can receive and retransmit except the 29.5 - 29.7 MHz of the 10-meter band. Correct?

A. Yes. Obviously, our VHF and UHF bands are deemed to be the most suitable for our repeaters while our HF bands are considered worldwide as DXing preserves, other than on the near-VHF high end of our 10-meter band. What you describe might be a remote base station.

Q. My VHF repeater uses VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) as if it were a long multi-wire cable. It enables persons at very long distances - even in faraway countries - to intercommunicate with hams in our locality. Some of these persons utilize a microphone >amateur station>computer/VoIP>repeater. Others utilize a microphone>computer>VoIP>repeater. During such intervals when my station is transmitting the speech of a faraway person utilizing a microphone>computer>VoIP>repeater configuration, it is obviously not simultaneously retransmitting the transmission of another amateur station on a different channel or channels. So, during those times is my station eligible for the special operations automatic control accommodation afforded to repeaters by Section 97.205?

A. No. But that should make no practical difference because there would be no opportunity to utilize automatic control. In the configuration that you describe, the faraway person can only be (1) the Section 97.105 control operator designated for your station or (2) be a Section 97.115(b) third party participant.

   In the first instance, you – the Section 97.103 station licensee – would designate the far away person as the Section 97.105 control operator for your station. Then your station would be the Section 97.213 remotely controlled with its control point being wherever the control operator is situated.

   In the second instance, you – or some other amateur operator you designate as the control operator of your station - must be on duty at your station control point making appropriate decisions and manipulating the apparatus as necessary to comply with Section 97.115(b).

Q. In the remote base option (1), may my station still transmit within the repeater segments?

A. Possibly yes. For one consideration, take note of the threshold power limits for which Section 97.13(c)(1) requires the licensee to perform a routine RF environmental evaluation. They are specified differently for a repeater than for a non-repeater station.

   For another thing, in many locations, a non-repeater station sharing a channel with a repeater is normally not a good amateur practice. But, in this instance of a remote base/repeater station – if your Section 97.3(a)(22) frequency coordinator agrees – practicality may justify it being done.

    During those times when it is transmitting something other than the transmissions of another amateur station, the station is not a repeater in the context of that term as used in Part 97. Our amateur service community, it would seem, accepts that doing all of the

things that a Section 97.205 repeater station does some of the time, or doing some of the things a Section 97.205 repeater station does all of the time, somehow entitles a station to enjoy some or all of the special operations accommodations for repeaters any old time.

Q. We use D-Star, radio-to-radio. My friend is a US citizen with a FCC license and resides, temporarily, in Japan. He is licensed there also. Can he route a call to me via his computer to the Internet to a gateway stateside that routes his call to me? He'd in effect be operating remotely through the gateway and a repeater local to me.

A. There is no specific rule for that addresses that matter. So, it must be analyzed in the context of the rules that do exist and the information presented in your question.

   Firstly, the FCC has declared that D-Star fits the definition of a Section 97.205 repeater station. The significance of the word simultaneous in the Section 97.3(a)(40) definition of a repeater was addressed in PR Docket No. 93-85. Thus, it is eligible for the Section 97.205 special operations accommodations for repeater stations. Those repeaters enjoy Section 97.3(a)(22) frequency coordination protection and are authorized to be under Section 97.3(a)(6) automatic control. Our amateur service community, moreover, has implemented effective channelization band plans for these repeaters.

   Secondly, your friend does not appear to be causing or allowing an amateur station to transmit within area where our amateur service is regulated by the government of Japan. So, it is beside the point whether he has authority to do so.

   Thirdly, his communications journeys between Japan and the United States are via the internet, not amateur radio. So, there is no amateur service issue there.

   Fourthly, there is the assumption that he is not the station licensee of the repeater that is at a place where the FCC regulates our amateur service. If so, that is another non-issue.

   Fifthly, there is the matter of whether or not he is the Section 97.105 control operator designated for the repeater. That must be decided by the Section 97.103 station licensee.

Q. As I read the question this user in Japan is not entering the system on an RF frequency so he is not using a “repeater” but a remote base.  Can users in Japan be designated control operators when they do not have an FCC license?

A. No. For any amateur station transmitting from a place where the FCC regulates our amateur service, Section 97.7 says there must be a designated Section 97.105 control operator. Section 97.3(a)(13) says a control operator is: An amateur operator designated by the licensee of a station to be responsible for the transmissions from that station to assure compliance with the FCC Rules. Section 97.7 says: When transmitting, each amateur station must have a control operator. The control operator must be a person:(a) For whom an amateur operator/primary station license grant appears on the ULS consolidated licensee database, or (b) Who is authorized for alien reciprocal operation by §97.107 of this part.

Q. One of our local 160-meter chat groups "simulcast" their transmissions on a local 2-meter repeater. Stations can access the 160 meter conversations through the repeater. This seems contrary to the rule that repeaters can be used on HF, only above 29.5 MHz. Is there something that I am missing here?

A. No. Section 97.205(b) says: A repeater may receive and retransmit only on the 10 m and shorter wavelength frequency bands except the 28.0-29.5 MHz, 50.0-51.0 MHz, 144.0-144.5 MHz, 145.5-146.0 MHz, 222.00-222.15 MHz, 431.0-433.0 MHz, and 435.0-438.0 MHz segments.

   When in a 2-meter/160-meter configuration, your 2-meter station is not a Section 97.205 repeater station. In which case, note Section 97.113(d). It says that no amateur station, except an auxiliary, repeater, or space station, may automatically retransmit the radio signals of other amateur stations. The retransmissions of the160-meter chat group, therefore, would each have to be caused non-automatically by the 2-meter station control operator.

Q. I have experienced a situation where someone just programmed another member’s primary station call sign on the repeater IDer without realizing that he had just declared the new the repeater station licensee.

A. Let’s hope that the new Section 97.103 station licensee of the repeater was agreeable to accepting the responsibility and it is in writing.

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July 31, 2017

Supersedes all prior editions