delara news Delaware Amateur Radio Association, Delaware OH   VOL 36 NUMBER 3

Ham Radio News

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FCC Personal Radio Service Revisions Will Affect

GMRS, FRS, CB, Other Part 95 Devices (from ARRL


In a lengthy Report and Order (R&O) in a proceeding (WT Docket No. 10-119) dating back 7 years, the FCC has announced rule changes affecting the General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS), the Family Radio Service (FRS), the Citizens Band Radio Service (CBRS or “CB”), as well as other applications that fall under the FCC’s Part 95 Personal Radio Services (PRS) rules and regulations. Part 95 devices typically are low-power units that communicate over shared spectrum and, with some exceptions, do not require an individual user license from the FCC. As the R&O explains, common examples of PRS devices include “walkie-talkies;” radio-control cars, boats, and planes; hearing assistance devices; CB radios; medical implant devices; and Personal Locator Beacons. “This draft Report and Order completes a thorough review of the PRS rules in order to modernize them, remove outdated requirements, and reorganize them to make it easier to find information,” the FCC said in a summary attached to the R&O. “As a result of this effort, the rules will become consistent, clear, and concise.” GMRS and FRS devices are used for personal communication over several miles; compact FRS handhelds, often sold in pairs, are widely available. While GMRS and FRS share spectrum, GMRS provides for greater communications range and requires an FCC license; FRS does not. “The rules will increase the number of communications channels for both GMRS and FRS, expand digital capabilities to GMRS (currently allowed for FRS), and increase the power/range for certain FRS channels to meet consumer demands for longer range communications (while maintaining higher power capabilities for licensed GMRS),” the FCC explained. The amended rules eventually will eliminate combination FRS/GMRS radios for the most part, but allow up to 2 W PEP output for FRS transceivers. “[M]any current users of GMRS/FRS combination radios do not obtain licenses to operate over the GMRS frequencies in those radios,” the FCC said. “Much of this problem likely arises as a result of the mass consumer marketing of combination devices for sale to the public in large quantities to users who do not know about or do not understand the licensing requirements attached to such radios and obligations associated with operating in the GMRS.” The FCC said it no longer will certify FRS devices that incorporate GMRS capabilities or capabilities of other services. Existing GMRS/FRS combination radios that operate at power levels of less than 2 W ERP will be reclassified as FRS devices; existing GMRS/FRS radios that operate above that power level will be reclassified as GMRS devices, requiring an individual license. Radios that can transmit on GMRS repeater input channels will continue to be licensed individually and not by rule. “We believe the 2 W limit for FRS is appropriate, because many of the existing combination GMRS/FRS radios already operate under that level with no significant complaints about interference or other problems, and it provides a reasonable balance between the desire for increased range over the prior FRS power levels and battery life,” the FCC said. The FCC said changes to the decades-old Citizens Band (CB) rules will remove outdated requirements, including certain labeling requirements. DXing on Citizens Band will become legal too. Once the new rules are effective, CBers will be allowed to contact stations outside of the FCC-imposed — but widely disregarded — 155.3-mile distance limit. The revised CB rules further clarify how hands-free devices can be used with CB radios and will allow the use of wireless microphones with CB radios. “We find the record persuasive regarding the consumer demand for this feature, and it will promote safety on the highways by reducing driver distraction for those using CB [radios],” the FCC said. The FCC left in place the current power limits for the CB Radio Service. The rule changes will phase out the use of voice-scrambling or “obscuring” features in all Part 95 devices, and it will ultimately prohibit manufacture, importation, or sale of any devices incorporating such features, “regardless of whether the Commission has previously certified that radio.” Overall, the FCC said, its action “achieves a thorough review of Part 95 rules and creates a new rule structure where common administrative rules are consolidated to reduce duplication, and individual subparts are structured with a common numbering scheme.” The FCC said the changes remove “outdated and unnecessary rules, while clarifying others.” Most of the new Part 95 rules will become effective 30 days after their publication in The Federal Register. - ARRL Letter

US Fish and Wildlife Service Seeks Comments on Baker

Island DXpedition Compatibility

The US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) appears open to a DXpedition to Baker Island in the Pacific, which has not been activated for 15 years. Baker and Howland Islands (KH1) is the fourth most-wanted DXCC entity, according to the Club Log DXCC Most Wanted List. On April 24, the FWS released a Draft Compatibility Determination for Amateur Radio Operation for public review and comment. The comment period ends on May 8. Public access to the Baker Island National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) is managed through a special use permit (SUP). Baker and Howland Islands are part of the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument (PRIMNM), created by former President George W. Bush under the authority of the Antiquities Act of 1906. The monument was expanded by President Barack Obama. "Amateur Radio operation is an existing use at Baker Island NWR; however, it is not a common use," the FWS said in opening the Draft Compatibility Determination for comment. "The Service last permitted an Amateur Radio operator group to access Baker Island NWR in April 2002. The SUP authorizing this use will include stipulations, conditions, and restrictions to ensure compatibility and mitigate for potential anticipated impacts to refuge resources." Comments may be submitted via e-mail to Monument Superintendent Laura Beauregard. Include "Baker Amateur Radio Comments" in the subject line. The FWS allowed that while Amateur Radio is not a wildlife-dependent public use, it does offer "some value as a source of public information about wildlife resources and to bring public attention to the Refuge," the FWS said. Baker Island is 1,830 nautical miles southwest of Honolulu -- an 8-day voyage. Visitors to Baker Island would be accompanied by an FWS representative, who would approve the landing zone. The FWS would also have to approve QSL cards to ensure that they include "an informative or educational statement about the Refuge." The FWS called QSLs "a valuable outreach tool." "By allowing Amateur Radio operators to visit the PRIMNM refuges, the refuges benefit through the ability of staff to visit remote island sites to monitor wildlife populations and habitats, detect invasive species introductions, and perform management actions that would otherwise require the Service to charter a vessel," the FWS, said, pointing out the mutual advantage to the Service of accompanying a DXpedition to the island. The 2002 K1B Baker Island DXpedition logged 96,000 contacts. -- Thanks to The Daily DX, FWS

Ohio Columnist Alerts Locals to Upcoming Ham


Fairborn Daily Herald columnist Bill Taylor, N8YGS, is giving readers in the Fairborn, Ohio area a heads up regarding the thousands of radio amateurs soon to be descending upon Xenia, Ohio for Hamvention® -- being held there for the first time, May 19-21, at the Greene County Fairgrounds and Expo Center.   "It seems to me that folks hereabouts should be forewarned that in a few weeks we will be subjected to what might be called an 'invasion,'" Taylor wrote. "Oh, it won't be by zombies, aliens from outer space, or locusts -- nope, it's going to be by very friendly 'hams,' known more formally as 'Amateur Radio operators.'" A member of ARRL and of the Hamvention-sponsoring Dayton Amateur Radio Association (DARA), Taylor pointed out that past Hamvention attendance has been in the 25,000 range. "As for attendance this year, that's a bit of a question because of the change in venue," Taylor wrote, "but we can still expect thousands of folks visiting our county, many for the first time." Taylor told ARRL that he's planning "at least a couple more columns about Hamvention and Amateur Radio, including one next week." He said his editor is "very supportive" of Hamvention and plans to devote as many column inches as possible to the event. -ARRL letter

Emergency Communications Driving Increase in Amateur Radio Operators

Hams standing by and ready to help during disasters or other events. BY JAMES CARELESS / APRIL 11, 2017  Emergency Management Magazine More Americans than ever have been licensed by the Federal Communications Commission as Amateur Radio operators, and those in the know say that emergency communications is driving their passion to be “hams.” “There has been a tremendous amount of interest in emergency preparedness since 9/11 and Katrina, and this is true for the Amateur Radio community as well,” said Mike Corey, the emergency preparedness manager for the American Radio Relay League (ARRL). “Emergency communications is a gateway into Amateur Radio, and many join our ranks through an interest in being better prepared themselves and as a way to serve their community.” The publics growing interest in amateur radio for emergency communications is a legacy of 9/11, when Americans saw their cellular telephone networks become overwhelmed by excess traffic and system outages. When regular phone service fails, Amateur Radio operators fill the communications gap with their independent transceivers and battery power backups. Amateur Radio operators played a substantial role in restoring vital communications links in the wake of 9/11, hurricanes, tornadoes and other major disasters that have affected the United States. They assist in directing first responders to victims, providing real-time situational updates from the disaster scene to emergency management agencies, and offering victims a way to contact their families and friends when normal communications channels have failed. “Generally, Amateur Radio operators assist other organizations and agencies by adding communications capacity when normal means of communications are down or overloaded,” Corey said. “Amateurs work with local emergency management, first responders, hospitals, National Weather Service, National Hurricane Center and VOADs [Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters] and the Red Cross and Salvation Army. Many also use amateur radio as part of their own family communications plan and use the skills they learn as amateurs to assist neighbors during emergencies and disasters.” Emergency managers have taken note the usefulness of amateur radio operators during manmade and natural disasters — and many have ongoing relationships with their local ham communities. This includes assigning Amateur Radio operators specific roles within each agency’s emergency response plan, and even setting space aside for hams in their EOCs. This is certainly the case in Colorado. In 2016, the state Legislature officially designated qualified hams as members of Colorado’s new Auxiliary Emergency Communications Unit, under the authority of the state’s Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, in the Department of Public Safety. As a result of this new law, Colorado ARES teams are now part of their state’s emergency management team, with their own roles with their state’s emergency management plans and facilities. It is worth noting that hams also aid emergency managers in less dire situations. For instance, “throughout the United States, amateurs assist the National Weather Service’s SKYWARN program in providing ground truth reports during severe weather events,” Corey said. All told, the growing number of Amateur Radio operators in the U.S. are self-funding, fully equipped communicators, many of whom want to support local emergency managers and first responders any way they can.
© DELARA News, the official monthly newsletter of the Delaware Amateur Radio Association, Delaware, OH