FCC News: Man Fined $7,000, Spread Spectrum Rules Revised

The ARRL Letter, a weekly e-mail newsletter from the ARRL, reported this week on two actions by the FCC. In one case, a CB radio operator is fined $7,000 by the FCC for refusing to allow them to inspect his station. The second item is a rule change that allows amateurs to use higher power from spread-spectrum communications.

CBer Fined $7,000
One of the questions on the Tech test reads, “When must the station licensee make the station and its records available for FCC inspection?” The answer: “Any time upon request by an FCC representative.” When I discuss this question, I always joke that I’ve never heard of the FCC requesting an inspection. That’s no longer the case.

The FCC not only requested an inspection of a Merced, CA man’s CB station, but fined him $7,000 when he twice refused to let them do it. Not too smart, unless he was trying to hide other stuff that would have gotten him into even more trouble.

FCC Changes Spread-Spectrum Rules
In a Report and Order released March 4, 2011, the Federal Communications Commission has eliminated the requirement that amateur stations transmitting Spread Spectrum use Automatic Power Control (APC) to reduce transmitter power. At the same time, the Commission has reduced the maximum power of a Spread Spectrum emission from 100 W PEP to 10 W PEP.

This should make it easier for hams to experiment with spread-spectrum techniques. I’ll look forward to seeing a QST or QEX article on this topic sometime soon.

FCC Allows GPS to be Jammed?

Under the Bush administration, the FCC seemed fascinated with BPL—even to the point of irrationality. Now, we may be seeing that same kind of behavior by the Obama adminstration’s FCC, although this time they seem to be fascinated with wireless connectivity. So much so that they may allow a company, Lightsquared, to interfere with GPS receivers. Lightsquared is in the process of setting up a satellite-based, 4G-LTE broadband network.

A recent article in GPS World reports, “On January 26, the FCC waived its own rules and granted permission for the potential interferer to broadcast in the L Band 1 (1525 MHz—1559 MHz) from powerful land-based transmitters. This band lies adjacent to the GPS band (1559—1610 MHz) where GPS and other satellite-based radio navigation systems operate.” According to the article, Lightsquared plans to install up to 40,000 high-power transmitters across the United States.

The article also reports on some simulation testing done by Garmin and Trimble, two manufacturers of GPS receivers, that really raises some concerns. The test report shows that a consumer devices, such as a GPS receiver in an automobile, began to experience jamming at a power level representing a distance of 3.6 miles (5.8 kilometers) from the simulated LightSquared transmitter. The consumer device lost a fix at 0.66 miles (1.1 kilometers) from the transmitter.

They also simulated an aviation receiver. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)-certified aviation receiver began to be jammed at a distance of 13.8 miles (22.1 kilometers) and experienced total loss of fix at 5.6 miles (9.0 kilometers) from the transmitter.

Interesting stuff, no?  I wonder how much Lightsquared payed its lobbyists to get this by the FCC?

New Rules Governing Vanity, Club Station Call Signs Coming February 14

SB QST @ ARL $ARLB030
ARLB030 New Rules Governing Vanity, Club Station Call Signs to Take Effect February 14

ZCZC AG30
QST de W1AW
ARRL Bulletin 30 ARLB030
From ARRL Headquarters
Newington CT December 16, 2010
To all radio amateurs

SB QST ARL ARLB030
ARLB030 New Rules Governing Vanity, Club Station Call Signs to Take Effect February 14

On Wednesday, December 15, new rules affecting vanity and club station call signs within the Amateur Radio Service were published in the Federal Register. They can be found on the Web in PDF format. These new rules will go into effect on February 14, 2011.

Thirteen months ago, the FCC announced its intention of modifying Part 97 as it applies to the vanity call sign system and club station call signs, aligning the rules to prior Commission decisions. Last month, the Commission released a Report and Order (R&O), outlining its decision. Along with the changes to the call
sign rules, the FCC made “certain minor, non-substantive amendments” to portions of Part 97.
NNNN
/EX

FCC’s Spectrum Dashboard

Many hams feel that they “own” the ham bands. Nothing could be further from the truth, though. In the UHF and microwave regions, we share those bands with other services.

Don’t believe me? Try out the FCC Spectrum Dashboard. According to this website,

The Spectrum Dashboard allows new ways for citizens to search spectrum in the United States. Use the dashboard to find out how spectrum is being used, who owns spectrum licenses around the country, and what spectrum is available in your county.

It covers the frequency range 225 MHz – 3.7 GHz, which are the frequencies generally deemed the best for wireless broadband service, and therefore, the frequencies most sought after right now.

You can do all kinds of searches, including:

  • search by frequency band,
  • search by service,
  • search by location, and
  • browse through the spectrum.

I just did a search for frequencies used by the amateur radio service and discovered that we share the 420 – 450 MHz band with the following services:

  • Industrial/Business Radio Service
  • Public Safety Radio Service
  • Radiolocation Service

This is a great tool for any ham interested in spectrum issues.

SkyWarn Recognition Day, 12/4/10

This is an edited version of a press release from the ARRL……Dan

Newington, CT Nov 17, 2010 — The National Weather Service’s annual SKYWARN Recognition event will take place Saturday, December 4. Cosponsored by the National Weather Service (NWS) and ARRL, the national association for Amateur Radio, SKYWARN Recognition Day is the National Weather Service’s way of expressing its appreciation to Amateur Radio operators for their commitment to keep communities safe.

While the 2010 hurricane season has been fairly quiet in the US, amateur radio operators are also deeply involved with the Hurricane Watch Net (HWN). The HWN, which organized in 1965, began as an informal group of amateurs that has developed into a formal relationship with the National Hurricane Center in Miami via its Amateur Radio station WX4NHC. Ham radio operators and volunteers at Miami work together when hurricanes threaten, providing real-time weather data and damage reports to the Hurricane Center’s forecasters.

Over 100 National Weather Service regional offices will be participating in this year’s event to recognize the community service of ham radio people.

For full information see the NOAA website.

Frequently Asked Questions about SKYWARN Recognition Day

What is SKYWARN Recognition Day?
SKYWARN Recognition Day (SRD) was developed in 1999 by the National Weather Service and the American Radio Relay League. It celebrates the contributions that volunteer SKYWARN radio operators make to the National Weather Service. During the day SKYWARN operators visit NWS offices and contact other radio operators across the world. Information regarding SRD is updated at http://hamradio.noaa.gov.

Why are the National Weather Service and the American Radio Relay League cosponsoring the event?
The NWS and the ARRL both recognize the importance that amateur radio provides during severe weather. Many NWS offices acquire real time weather information from amateur radio operators in the field. These operators, for example, may report the position of a tornado, the height of flood waters, or damaging wind speeds during hurricanes. All of this information is critical to the mission of the NWS which is to preserve life and property. The special event celebrates this special contribution by amateur radio operators.

When is SKYWARN Recognition Day?
This year SKYWARN Recognition Day begins at 0000 UTC on December 4, 2010. It will last 24 hours.
How many NWS stations are participating in the event?
It is estimated that around 100 NWS stations will participate this year.

Is this a contest or what?
No, this is not a contest, so no scoring will be computed. This is simply a group of stations transmitting from NWS offices during the same time. Similar event occurs every year on the amateur radio calendar. For example, hams operate from lighthouses across the world during one weekend and from naval ships/submarines during another.

QST magazine usually lists Special Event stations in a compiled list every month. Will our station be listed there?
If you want your individual station to be listed in the Special Event section of QST magazine, you must submit your information following the ARRL submission policies. You can go to www.arrl.org/contests/spev.html for complete information on how to do this. Remember, though, the deadline to get this information to QST is fast approaching.

We would like to publicize the event in the media. Can we do it?
You bet.

Is there a national point of contact?
Yes, there are three points-of-contact. Contact either:
Matt Mehle (Matthew.Mehle@noaa.gov) Dave Floyd (David.L.Floyd@noaa.gov) Scott Mentzer (Scott.Mentzer@noaa.gov)

Is this an annual event?
Yes. This is the 12th consecutive year that the event has been held.

FCC Proposes Additions, Changes to Amateur 5 MHz Allocation

From the 5/13/10 issue of the ARRL Letter:

Acting on a 2006 Petition for Rulemaking filed by the ARRL, the FCC has issued a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM), ET Docket No 10-98 to modify the rules that govern amateurs’ secondary use of five channels in the 5 MHz frequency range known as 60 meters. The proposed changes would substitute a new channel for one that is seldom available because of occupancy by the fixed service, which is primary in this range. Also proposed is an increase in power from 50 to 100 W effective radiated power (ERP) and the addition of CW, PSK31 and PACTOR-III modes with provisions to ensure that such operations would be compatible with the primary service. The proposed changes can be found beginning on page 8 of the NPRM.

Read the complete article.

ARRL Bulletin: FCC Seeks Comments on Newly Proposed Rules for Amateur Radio Operators and Emergency Drills

Personally, I don’t see what the big fuss is about. I suppose allowing employees to do this might set a bad precedent, but it’s clear that this exception is being made only for emergency drills…….Dan

QST de W1AW
ARRL Bulletin 14 ARLB014
From ARRL Headquarters
Newington CT April 26, 2010
To all radio amateurs

SB QST ARL ARLB014
ARLB014 FCC Seeks Comments on Newly Proposed Rules for Amateur Radio Operators and Emergency Drills

In March, the FCC released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that proposed to amend the Part 97 rules governing the Amateur Radio Service. The new rules would provide that, under certain limited conditions, Amateur Radio operators may transmit messages during emergency and disaster preparedness drills, regardless of whether the operators are employees of entities participating in the drill.

On April 22, a summary of the NPRM was published in the Federal Register and the FCC is seeking comments on it. Comments must be filed on or before May 24, 2010 (30 days after publication in the Federal Register); reply comments must be filed on or before June 7, 2010 (45 days after publication in the Federal Register).

Instructions on how to file comments are listed beginning on page 5 of the NPRM. The NPRM is available on the web in PDF format.
NNNN
/EX

Help Say No to This Proposed Rule

Usually, I don’t pay much attention to Notices of Proposed Rule Making (NPRMs) by the FCC. But this one—WT Docket 09-209—has got my attenion. The proposed rules would clarify certain rules regarding vanity callsigns and revise the rules applicable to club stations.

It’s the latter that I’m concerned about. The revision would add the following wording to 97.5(b)(2):

After [date reserved], no additional club station license grant will be made to a club whose trustee already holds a club station license grant for that club.

In other words, clubs will only be allowed to hold a single club call sign, unless the club already has more than one, even if there are good reasons to hold more than one club call sign. Our club, for example, has four club call signs:

  • W8PGW is our long-held club call sign.
  • WC8RC is the call sign we use at our club station at the Washtenaw County Red Cross.
  • WA2HOM is the call sign we use at the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum.
  • W8CWN is another call sign that we use occasionally at the Hands-On Museum. This was the call sign of Dr. Richard Crane, one of the founders of the Hands-On Museum, and we requested it to honor Dr. Crane.

None of these callsigns were obtained for frivolous reasons and they all serve a purpose. Should this rule be enacted, however, clubs who have similar operations would be unable to get more than a single club call sign. This sounds like a solution looking for a problem to me.

I urge you to contact the FCC and ask them to strike this from the NPRM. You can make comments in the following ways: via the Federal eRulemaking Portal or via the FCC website. Comments must be submitted by March 26, 2010; reply comments are due no later than April 12, 2010.

International Amateur Radio Union E-Letter, January 2010

In this issue:

  • A Message From IARU President Tim Ellam
  • Haiti Earthquake Report

—————————————-

A Message From Tim Ellam, VE6SH/G4HUA

Secretary Stafford requested that I provide an update on IARU activities for the IARU E-Letter. I am pleased to do so.

Some recent activities:

  • IARU Secretary Rod Stafford, W6ROD and IARU Coordinator for Emergency Communications, Hans Zimmermann, F5VKP/HB9AQS have attended meetings of the ITU Development Sector and are preparing for the World Telecommunications Development Conference to be held in Hyderābād, India in May.
  • IARU Vice President Ole Garpestad,LA2RR and I presented our credentials to ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun Touré, HB9EHT. We were fortunate to have a lengthy discussion with Dr. Touré where we outlined the goals for IARU within ITU. Dr. Touré expressed his appreciation of the activities of the IARU and the Amateur Service in general.
  • Prepare for the upcoming ITU Plenipotentiary Conference to be held in Veracruz, Mexico in October. Items on the agenda for this important meeting include the election of ITU officials and the consideration of changes to the ITU Convention and Constitution that may impact the role of observers such as the IARU. Region 2 Secretary Ramon Santoyo V, XE1KK is working with the Mexican society, FMRE, to arrange an amateur station for this event.
  • Vice President Garpestad and I attended meetings of ITU-Working Party 5A. In particular, we took part in Working Group 1 headed, for the first time, by new Chairman Ken Pulfer VE3PU. This gave us a chance to meet in person with a number of the members of the WRC-12 team. Both Ole and I were very pleased with the efforts that are being made in Working Group 1 and Working Party 5.
  • At our recent meeting in Christchurch, the AC established a common position with respect to the WRC-12 agenda items that are of interest to the Amateur Services.
  • Amateur Radio Administrative Courses (ARACs) are in the process of being planned in both Laos and Oman for later this year.
  • Developed a plan to have the IARU better represented before some Regional Telecommunication Organizations.
  • Put in place a proposal to have more than one AC meeting a year with the additional meeting to be held on a “virtual” basis either through radio conferencing or teleconferencing.
  • Communication amongst the AC members and the team preparing for WRC-12 has been assisted by the establishment of two email reflectors. This, I think, went a long way in enhancing our discussions during the AC meeting which was held in Christchurch, New Zealand last October.

I am very pleased with the cooperative approach of the AC members and our WRC-12 team and I think it bodes well for our future activities.

When I was first elected to this position, I provided the AC members with my view of our goals for 2009-2014. It is my hope that we should strive to make the IARU the global voice of the Amateur Radio Services and the world’s leading organization of Amateur Radio Member Societies. I believe we are well along in that process.

One of our other goals is to provide more effective communication to Regions and Member Societies. Hopefully we are improving in that respect through some of the mechanisms we now have in place, such as this E-Letter. We also wanted interact with our Member Societies more frequently than we have in the past. Ole, Rod and I have been able to do that in the past few months by our attendance at various Hamfests or in meeting with Societies directly. We both plan to have similar meetings throughout 2010.

Finally, I would like thank each of you for your continued support of the IARU and its activities. Our work together will continue to enhance the position of the Amateur Radio Services.

Please feel free to contact me or any member of the officer team if you have any questions or issues that you would like to raise. I can be reached by email at ve6sh@iaru.org.

—————————————-

Haiti Earthquake
Note: The following account of the activities related to the response to the earthquake in Haiti that took place on January 12, 2010 is taken from the ARRL web site and provides information that is available as of January 14, 2010.

On Tuesday, January 12 at 4:53 PM Haiti time (2153 UTC), a magnitude 7.0 earthquake hit 10 miles (15 kilometers) west of Port-au-Prince, the island nation’s capital. Communications in and out of Haiti have been disrupted. The ARRL encourages US amateurs to be aware of the emergency operations on the following frequencies: 7.045 and 3.720 MHz (IARU Region 2 nets), 14.265, 7.265 and 3.977 MHz (SATERN nets), and 14.300 MHz (Intercontinental Assistance and Traffic Net); the International Radio Emergency Support Coalition (IRESC) is also active on EchoLink node 278173.

There was no firm estimate on how many people were killed by Tuesday’s quake. Haitian President Rene Preval said the toll could be in the thousands: “Let’s say that it’s too early to give a number.”

Tuesday’s quake was felt in the Dominican Republic, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, and in Eastern Cuba, but no major damage was reported in either place. The January 13 edition of The Daily DX reported that the Rev John Henault, HH6JH, made contact late Wednesday morning with the Intercontinental Assistance and Traffic Net (IATN) on 14.300 MHz; this is the IARU Global Center of Activity frequency for emergency communications. He said that he was safe, but had no power and no phone service. He was operating on battery power and hoping to get a generator running later in the day. The edition also noted that Pierre Petry, HH2/HB9AMO — who was in Cap Haitien (about 140 km north of Port-au-Prince) is safe; Petry is in Haiti working for the United Nations World Food Program.

On Wednesday afternoon, Fred Moore, W3ZU, assisted Jean-Robert Gaillard, HH2JR, with a phone patch to his friend Ariel in Miami. “It’s bad, it literally is bad,” Gaillard told Ariel. “We don’t know how many people are dead. We do not know what to expect. It’s chaos, I’m telling you — it’s real chaos. We are really in a disaster area. It’s really a war zone. Many, many buildings in the downtown area are stripped from the ground with many people buried underneath them – you name it, it’s bad.” Gaillard, who lives in Port-au-Prince, was using his neighbor’s generator to make the contact. “It’s really chaotic. I’ve never been in a war, but this is what a war zone would be like. Dead bodies all over the place, dead bodies buried. All I can tell you is that I’m okay, my house is okay. We’ve had 30 aftershocks, the main one yesterday. We are expecting some more shocks, so I’m a bit nervous to be inside the house.”

According to IARU Region 3 Disaster Communications Chairman Jim Linton, VK3PC, members of the Radio Club Dominicano (RCD) — the Dominican Republic’s IARU Member-Society — and Union Dominicana de Radio Aficionados (UDRA) are preparing to go to Port au Prince on the morning of Friday, January 15, where they will install HI8RCD/HH, an emergency radio communications station and a mobile station.

FEMA (U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency) Administrator Craig Fugate advised that US assets should not self-deploy to affected areas. “Initial reports from Haiti in the wake of yesterday’s earthquake are concerning and troubling,” he said. “During times like these, the emergency response community always stands ready to assist those in need. The United States Department of State has the lead for foreign disaster assistance, and US assets should deploy only if tasked to do so by the State Department. The most urgent need that the response community can fulfill at this time is supporting ongoing disaster relief fund-raising efforts.”

On Thursday, January 14th, planes carrying teams from China and France, Spain and the United States landed at Port-au-Prince’s airport with searchers and tons of water, food, medicine and other supplies — with more promised from around the globe. US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said that “tens of thousands, we fear, are dead” and said United States and the world must do everything possible to help Haiti surmount its “cycle of hope and despair.” The US Army said a detachment of more than 100 soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division was heading out from Fort Bragg in North Carolina, looking for locations to set up tents and other essentials in preparation for the arrival of another 800 personnel on Friday. That’s in addition to some 2200 Marines to be sent, as the military prepares to help with security, search and rescue missions and the delivery of humanitarian supplies. More than a half-dozen US military ships also are expected to help, with the largest, the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, arriving later Thursday.

Calls to emergency services weren’t getting through because systems that connect different phone networks were still not working, said officials from a telecommunications provider in Haiti. The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is deploying 40 satellite terminals and 60 units with broadband facility to re-establish basic communication links, along with experts to operate them. The ITU will also set up “a reliable, responsive and complete cellular system designed to enable vital wireless communications aimed at strengthening response and recovery mechanisms in a disaster zone,” said ITU Emergency Communications Division Chief Cosmas Zavazava. The ITU has allocated a budget of more than $1 million US dollars to strengthen the disaster response effort in Haiti.

ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun Touré, HB9EHT, expressed his solidarity with the people of Haiti and offered his condolences to the bereaved victims of the disaster. “The whole world is in shock following the devastation and untold misery caused by the earthquake in Haiti,” Dr Touré said. “ITU will do everything possible to provide assistance to the people of Haiti by re-establishing telecommunication links which will be vital in the rescue and rehabilitation efforts in the days ahead.”

“The scope of the disaster clearly shows that the response to this is going to be a long term effort,” said ARRL Media and Public Relations Manager Allen Pitts, W1AGP. “The ARRL has been in contact with communications leaders of the American Red Cross and Salvation Army, as well as other key Amateur Radio operators throughout the region. As teams from the hundreds of responding agencies worldwide are formed for deployment, many will have Amateur Radio components. ARRL is committed to providing communications aid to our served agencies and working with the international community in this time of crisis. At this time there are no known requests from agencies for amateurs to travel to Haiti, but this can change. If it develops that there are ARES® assignments for a deployment in Haiti, these will be vetted and processed through each Section’s Section Emergency Coordinators.”

The situation in Haiti is still chaotic. More information will be posted on the ARRL web site (www.arrl.org) as soon as possible. Information is being validated and shared between many amateur groups and news sources as it unfolds.

—————————————-

If you have any information that would be appropriate to publish in this electronic newsletter, please contact me at w6rod@iaru.org.

Rod Stafford W6ROD
IARU Secretary

—————————————-

The IARU E-Letter is published on behalf on the Administrative Council of the International Amateur Radio Union by the IARU International Secretariat. Editor: David Sumner, K1ZZ, IARU Secretary.

Material from The IARU E-Letter may be republished or reproduced in whole or in part in any form without additional permission. Credit must be given to The IARU E-Letter and The International Amateur Radio Union.

FCC Looks to Revise, Clarify Vanity Call Sign Rules

QST de W1AW
ARRL Bulletin 35 ARLB035
From ARRL Headquarters
Newington CT November 30, 2009
To all radio amateurs

SB QST ARL ARLB035
ARLB035 FCC Looks to Revise, Clarify Vanity Call Sign Rules

On Wednesday, November 25, the FCC issued a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) — WT Docket No. 09-209 — seeking to amend the Commission’s Amateur Radio Service rules to clarify certain rules and codify existing procedures governing the vanity call sign system, as well as revise certain rules applicable to club stations.

According to the FCC, almost 80,000 licensees have replaced their sequentially issued Amateur Radio call signs with a vanity call sign since the program began in 1996. When the program began, the Commission established what they called “the broad outlines” of the vanity call sign system, concluding that call signs generally should not be available for reassignment for two years following the death of a licensee, or expiration or termination of the license for that call sign. In doing so, the Commission made exceptions for former holders of the call sign, close relatives of a deceased former holder and club stations of which a deceased former holder was a member.

The Commission did not, however, specify all of the procedures governing the vanity call sign system, but indicated that the procedures “would be set out in the Public Notices announcing ‘starting gates’ for the groups receiving initial priority and that the procedures would be adjusted from gate to gate as experience dictated.” The procedures announced in the Public Notices announcing the gates are still in effect, but they are not set forth in the Commission’s Rules.

The NPRM states that the FCC “now believe[s] that certain provisions should be codified in our rules, and others added, so that the vanity call sign system will be fair, equitable and transparent to all amateur service licensees. The Commission also decided in the Vanity Report and Order [issued in 1996] to resume issuing new club station licenses. We believe that certain rule changes to the club station licensing rules may be appropriate.”

Further information can be found on the Web.
NNNN
/EX