W3BE'S BE Informed!
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BE Informed No. 4.2

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About That

Station Identification Announcement

John B. Johnston W3BE

Every signal being transmitted on our amateur service bands should be coming from an identifiable amateur station. Each time your station transmits a Section 97.119(a) station identification announcement, you are telling its listeners that its signal is emanating from a U.S. government authorized station; that you are its license grant holder; and that you have the station apparatus under your physical control. The call sign transmitted can lead anyone to the ULS where your name and address are shown. This protocol results in more responsible use of a valuable public resource.

   Your Section 97.119(a) station identification announcement should never be compromised. It exposes personal identities. It is indispensable in our uniquely unstructured, open architecture radio service. It helps to create and maintain a culture of rule compliance and following Section 97.101(a) good engineering and amateur practices. It is our major deterrent against would-be rule violators and pirates. It also discourages mischief-makers from causing annoying interference to our intercommunications. It enables Maintenance Monitoring and our own self-policing. The essential requirement is very simple. Section 97.119(a) requires very little of us: 

   Each amateur station, except a space station or tele-command station, must transmit 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. No station may transmit unidentified communications or signals, or transmit as the station call sign, any call sign not authorized to the station.

   Note that Section 97.119(a) does not specify who it is that must speak, key or otherwise perform the station identification announcement. It simply requires that the station transmit its assigned call sign. The station Section 97.105(a) control operator must insure the immediate proper operation of the station. The Section 97.103(a) station licensee, moreover, is responsible for the proper operation of the station in accordance with the FCC rules. When the designated Section 97.105(a) control operator is a different person  than the Section 97.103(a) station licensee, both persons are equally responsible for proper operation of the station. This would obviously include causing or allowing the station to transmit its assigned call sign as required. The assigned call sign is the one shown on the ULS for the station license grant under which the station is transmitting. 

   Although the call sign transmitted in the Section 97.119(a) station identification announcement must be exactly as assigned, Section 97.119(b)(2) says that when it by a phone emission, use of a phonetic alphabet as an aid for correct station identification is encouraged. It must, however, be spoken in the English language. 

Q. Does a repeater have to ID?

A. Absolutely. The term “each,” as used in Section 97.119(a) is all inclusive: our Section 97.5(a)(1) primary stations, our Section 97.5(a)(2) club stations, and our Section 97.5(a)(3) military recreation stations, including those transmitting as a Section 97.201 auxiliary station, a Section 97.203 beacon station, or a Section 97.205 repeater station. Only our Section 97.207 amateur-satellite service space stations and our Section 97.211 space telecommand stations are exempt.

Q. Hams are using mobile radios that offer repeater capability. There is no ID capability built into these radios to identify them when being used in the repeater mode. Consequently, in some instances, no one has a clue as to the person responsible for their transmissions.    

A. It is always the Section 97.103(a) station licensee who is responsible for the proper operation of the station in accordance with the FCC rules, including Section 97.119.

Q. So, how can we find out who is the station licensee?

A. When it is a legitimate Section 97.5 amateur station, it will be transmitting its assigned call sign every 10-minutes or less. With that information, you can consult the ULS for the name and address of the responsible Section 97.103 station licensee.

Q. We wish. But the only call signs transmitted by this type of station are those in the repeated transmissions of its user stations. That does not always help us track down the station licensee of the unidentified repeater. Unless the licensee of one of the user stations is also the licensee of the repeater station, we have nothing to go on.

A. In which case, direction-finding may be helpful. If you are successful in locating the maverick repeater while it is transmitting, one of the following should occur: If it is being Section 97.109(b) locally controlled, the Section 97.105(a) control operator should be positioned at the co-located Section 97.3(a)(14) control point. If the repeater is being Section 97.109(c) remotely controlled (telecommand), there must be posted in a conspicuous place at the station location a photocopy of the station license document and a label with the name, address, and telephone number of the Section 97.103 station licensee and at least one designated Section 97.105(a) control operator.

   In either case, you should be able to determine its Section 97.103 station licensee. If the repeater, however, is under Section 97.109(d) automatic control, you may be up a blind alley unless the Section 97.103 station licensee – if there is one - considers similar posting to be a good amateur practice.

   After a century of making station identification announcements, hams should have implemented an automatic ID system by now. Even a car broadcast radio displays the station call sign and other information. With the identities of the station licensee, control operator, location, type of special operation, list of apparatus, etc., being displayed automatically at receiving stations, the rules could be greatly simplified and Maintenance Monitoring and our observing become a whole lot easier. Such capability also promises to eliminate the self-assigned indicators hams sometime append to their call signs to convey information they want listeners to know.

Q. I believe each station under Section 97.109(d) automatic control – like those under Section 97. 109(c) remote control - should also have posted in a conspicuous place at the station location a photocopy of the station license and a label with the name, address, and telephone number of the station licensee and at least one designated control operator.

A. Your suggestion has been added to GEPS and GAPS as OTA30.

Q. I am further recommending a procedure for the identification of those repeaters where there is no automatic ID.  It can be accomplished by any user just announcing in the ID, “This is (user call sign) through the (station licensee call sign) repeater.” For temporary situations, this practice results in clearly making the source of the transmissions known to those receiving them.

A. Your second suggestion has been added to GEPS and GAPS as OTA31.

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September 4, 2016

Supersedes all prior editions