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Author Topic: Selling "airtime" on ham radio  (Read 114929 times)
N3QE
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Posts: 2287




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« Reply #45 on: August 28, 2012, 10:23:56 AM »

I have no problem at all with rental stations. Neither does the ARRL, they've allowed the rental stations to advertise in the back of QST since forever.

After the QSO... I know that several of the rental stations have the policy of requiring 100% QSL'ing by their renters. A fine example of good citizenship (if also some self-promotion!!!)
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KE2TR
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Posts: 177




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« Reply #46 on: August 31, 2012, 03:44:57 AM »

The only reason I think some folks might be against it is some of the old timers have issues with if you didnt build the station yourself and worked that new one on the honor roll well to them it doesnt count but thta type of thinking goed back to the 60's and 70's, its old school. Today we gotta think about keeping this hobby alive for at least another 10 years, many of the bands even if there open have little use compared to 10 or 20 years ago, only when a contest is on they seem open. The mean age for this hobby is 50-80 years old and giving someone a chance to op at a station thats world class might just keep these fellows/gals in the hobby who just might not be able to have a station at there home at all gives more fuel to to keep the hobby burning. To N1CX, what is your friggin problem, are you one of these old farts that complain about everything, you remind me of some old buzard in the 60's that use to hold court on 75mtrs and say no lid's no kids no space cadets, is this the way you wanna have hams think of you. Man time marches on and this is a new age, you should embrase new ideas instead of knocking them down, maybe since you didnt think of it first your jealous but something is very clear your jealous or your a contant complainer of new ideas, a nay sayer to anything that doesnt work in your own little world. Now for the leagal issue, the ARRL has zero problem with this, the FCC has zero problem with this, aparently the legal advisors have found ni issues with it but it doesnt seem to get past your thick skull that its leagal. Many here have stated that there fine with it but you and I will say it again but I have no idea why you have such a personal issue with it.
BTW your station cant be remoted like the newer radio's can, sorry.
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AA4PB
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Posts: 12893




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« Reply #47 on: August 31, 2012, 08:33:45 AM »

Unattended Internet remote base operation presents some issues that are a bit different than renting property where presumably you have some face to face contact with the renter. That's because to be legal you have to designate the remote user, who is off in cyberspace somewhere, who you may not personally know, whom you have never met, as the control operator for your station. You need to develop systems to ensure that the operator is who he says he is, that he is properly licensed, and that you can contact him if a legal issue arises.

In addition, if you are operating as a business to make a profit then you may also run into some local regulations like perhaps collecting sales tax from users physically located in your same state or perhaps zoning issues involving operating a business from your residence.

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K5TED
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Posts: 747




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« Reply #48 on: September 02, 2012, 07:14:26 PM »

Seems this is not as much about the actual legality of a pile of equipment being rented out for use, as it is a case of indignance at the thought of someone being able to buy their way into possibly winning a contest without having to actually put in the physical effort, time and cash layout of building the station on their own.

Imagine the hair pulling, caterwauling, foot stomping and empty threats that'll be tossed around the first time a rent-a-station crew wins a major contest. I can even imagine a scenario where the rent-a-station crew is QRM'ed, attacked on-air, harrassed and the target of intimidation by those who feel their whole hobby life is threatened.

Consider what ham radio is all about? How is renting a contest station instead of building it from scratch different than buying a rig instead of building it from scratch? Radio manufacturers have as much pecuniary interest in the traffic that will be passed on the radios they sell for profit as does the owner of the rent-a-station. What about the guy who owns the local ham radio store, and is a licensed ham? He has a pecuniary interest in every raio he sells for the purpose of passing some sort of traffic.

Is there a stipulation that a pile of equipmet must be licensed? In other words, can a complete, operational station be constructed and owned by an individual or club that does not hold an amateur radio license? I believe that answer would be yes, since the station is not technically an amateur radio station until an amateur radio operator keys it up. Until then, it is a pile of equipment. Anyone can own a pile of equipment and do with it what they please as long as there is a licensed operator at the helm on transmit and the equipment is operated in spec on the duly assigned spectrum. No?

§ 97.5 Station license required.
(a) The station apparatus must be under the physical control of a person named in an amateur station license grant on the ULS
consolidated license database or a person authorized for alien reciprocal operation by §97.107 of this part, before the station may
transmit on any amateur service frequency.
  Until then the equipment is just equipment.

Let's go one further. What if I am the owner of said rent-a-station, and to make a name for it I hire a group of amateur radio operators to participate in a contest with the promise to pay them a dollar per contact?

What if..... I am owner of said station and I am a licensed amateur radio operator, and I hire a group of unlicensed individuals to operate my station in a contest with my complete oversight as control operator, and I pay them a doller per contact?

§ 97.7 Control operation required.
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.


I digress..

Back to the question...

Is it legal to rent out radio equipment for use on the amateur bands? That is the crux of the biscuit....

I say, YES.

 

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WB6DGN
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Posts: 619




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« Reply #49 on: September 04, 2012, 10:07:14 PM »

Quote
Is there a stipulation that a pile of equipmet must be licensed? In other words, can a complete, operational station be constructed and owned by an individual or club that does not hold an amateur radio license? I believe that answer would be yes, since the station is not technically an amateur radio station until an amateur radio operator keys it up. Until then, it is a pile of equipment. Anyone can own a pile of equipment and do with it what they please as long as there is a licensed operator at the helm on transmit and the equipment is operated in spec on the duly assigned spectrum.

Four pages of bickering and these few lines sum up the entire issue.  How many "hams in waiting" buy their station and spend their time listening all over the bands until they take their test and are duly licensed?  I've never heard anyone criticizing them for that; usually words of encouragement follow such a post.  As long as that transmitter is not putting out RF into a deliberate radiator (aka, antenna) there is NO control operator nor station license needed.  This interpretation of the regulations, by the way, is the action of a very trusting agency of government.  I suspect that if these regulations were being written today, no such "leeway" would exist and the presence of a transmitter would presume that such transmitter WILL be used.  At one time, the US government respected and trusted its citizens (IMAGINE THAT! Hard to believe, isn't it?).
So, folks, keep making noise about this NON ISSUE.  You just MAY see a change in the regulations that NOBODY wants.
Tom
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AB3CX
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Posts: 632




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« Reply #50 on: September 25, 2012, 07:43:51 PM »

All I have to say is that the guys who put contest stations together don't always operate them themselves. They bring in all sorts of good ops and ringers to run the pileups for them.  Hoew is that fair??  Not sitting at the key for 48 hours straight, it should be illegal to win, right?  So now those super ops or wannabes can rent a remote station for a while, and to some hams that's intolerable.  I know some of the hams involved in this new aspect of the hobby; if you think they didn't sit down with their lawyers and study every aspect of this endeavor in advance, you are not too perceptive.  This discussion probably sounds exactly like what was being said when logging programs started sending CW.  Some people think their way is the old way and the only way; those fellas just get huffy, it's OK.
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W1QJ
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Posts: 1458




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« Reply #51 on: October 18, 2012, 05:11:00 AM »

Nobody is mentioning the names of the providers of this service, so I won't either.  Suffice to say however the people behind this happen to be VG friends of mine.  I called a dinner meeting with them and my partner to discuss this very issue at hand.  They have 4 lawyers on retainer for all aspects to provide this service.  I can assure you these lawyers looked at the legality of this and it is indeed legal.  If you would like to refute this you can hire your 4 lawyers to do so but to speculate on your own behalf (not being a lawyer) is just wrong.  As of last count there are 4 locations and more being sought.  I doubt anyone would move to this level without first checking out the legality.  It's legal, and it's growing.
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AA4PB
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Posts: 12893




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« Reply #52 on: October 18, 2012, 10:58:19 AM »

It sounds like some are saying that an unlicensed person can set up an amateur station and provide remote access to it via the Internet. A licensed remote operator can then operate the station remotely under his own call sign, even though he has no physical access to the station equipment.

To me, that seems quite different than a situation where the "guest operator" is local and has physical access to the equipment he is using. It also seems different than the situation where the remote station is operated under the license of the owner who has physical access and joint responsibility for proper operation and maintenance. According to the FCC, the station licensee and the control operator have joint responsibility for the proper, legal operation of the station. I think it could become a little hard to enforce rules when the two are in different parts of the world, don't know each other and have little contact other than a credit card transaction.  Undecided
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N1CX
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Posts: 127




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« Reply #53 on: October 18, 2012, 01:40:33 PM »

You can pay any lawyer you want and he'll tell you what you want to hear. That's true with just about anything. That's why they're snakes.

Just because a lawyer says it's ok doesn't make it right, nor does it make it legal and legit in the spirit of ham radio and/or the eyes of the FCC.

I'm glad this thread started some discussion on this, we'll see where it ends up later on.

Would really like to know how these guys are skirting all local zoning laws........ I'm sure the town of Boothbay isn't aware of what they're doing.

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K1HC
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Posts: 52




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« Reply #54 on: October 19, 2012, 10:24:59 AM »

If someone were to charge a fee to send a message via ham radio then that would be a violation of the portion of Part 97 being discussed in this thread.  However, renting out a station is not a violation, as so many have pointed out in making comment.  I'm not one of the attorneys who may have been consulted by the ARRL on this question but I am an ARRL volunteer counsel with 34 years experience in working with Federal regulations.  Everyone is entitled to their personal opinion, so if one doesn't like the idea of renting out a station, so be it. There is just nothing in Part 97 prohibiting it. 
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KB4QAA
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Posts: 2407




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« Reply #55 on: October 19, 2012, 01:55:12 PM »

A non-ham can build a station.

However, the "Control Operator" must be licensed.   Unless some additional means, other than the internet, is provided for the internet operator to be able to shut down and adjust the radio, it does not meet this FCC requirement.
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AA4PB
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« Reply #56 on: October 19, 2012, 05:57:23 PM »

The question is not whether it is legal to rent out a station. The question is whether the control operator really has "control" of the station when he is accessing it only via the Internet, doesn't have physical access to the equipment, very likely doesn't even know exactly where the equipment is physically located, has no idea if meets FCC requirements for RF exposure, etc.

Now if there is a station licensee then he has physical access and can take responsibility for those things. He can designate the remote users as control operators but he becomes jointly responsible with them for proper operation. If the licensee is wise he will properly screen his "control operators" to ensure they are who they say they are, that they are properly licensed, and that he has a way to contact them if he receives a violation notice from the FCC. The licensee's license is on the line if a violation occurs.

Renting a vacation home with a station in it is a different matter because the control operator has physical access to the equipment at the time and presumably there is a lot more interaction between the licensee and the control operator.

It appears to me that that the Internet remote base operators (at least those whose sites I have visited) are being pretty cautious about their operation. If it gets to a point where you just log in a put in a credit card number to rent an hour on the station then matters may become different. If the station owner is not licensed then that opens a whole different can of worms.

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K7WFM
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Posts: 5




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« Reply #57 on: October 20, 2012, 07:42:07 AM »

Whether this type of operations is legal in the FCC eyes or not, this has got to be, no IS the lamest thing I've read about in amateur radio to date.

Someone paying for access to a remote station, probably not even aware of how this station is configured, over the interwebs to play radio with the big *****.

The entire concept is repulsive to me and I see business fail written all over it.




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AA4PB
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« Reply #58 on: November 02, 2012, 05:08:32 PM »

It appears to me that Part 97 requires the station to ID with the call sign of the licensee - not that of the remote control operator. That would preclude any remote operator from winning any contests under his own personal call sign.
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K5TED
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« Reply #59 on: November 07, 2012, 08:11:10 AM »

It appears to me that Part 97 requires the station to ID with the call sign of the licensee - not that of the remote control operator. That would preclude any remote operator from winning any contests under his own personal call sign.


There are some exceptions. The bolded parts are the key to this answer..

§ 97.109   Station control.

(a) Each amateur station must have at least one control point.

(b) When a station is being locally controlled, the control operator must be at the control point. Any station may be locally controlled.

(c) When a station is being remotely controlled, the control operator must be at the control point. Any station may be remotely controlled.


§ 97.103   Station licensee responsibilities.

(a) The station licensee is responsible for the proper operation of the station in accordance with the FCC Rules. When the control operator is a different amateur operator than the station licensee, both persons are equally responsible for proper operation of the station.

(b) The station licensee must designate the station control operator. The FCC will presume that the station licensee is also the control operator, unless documentation to the contrary is in the station records.

(c) The station licensee must make the station and the station records available for inspection upon request by an FCC representative.


§ 97.105   Control operator duties.

(a) The control operator must ensure the immediate proper operation of the station, regardless of the type of control.

(b) A station may only be operated in the manner and to the extent permitted by the privileges authorized for the class of operator license held by the control operator.

§ 97.5   Station license required.

(a) The station apparatus must be under the physical control of a person named in an amateur station license grant on the ULS consolidated license database or a person authorized for alien reciprocal operation by § 97.107 of this part, before the station may transmit on any amateur service frequency from any place that is:

(1) Within 50 km of the Earth's surface and at a place where the amateur service is regulated by the FCC;


§ 97.119   Station identification.

(a) Each amateur station, except a space station or telecommand 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.

Here is the relevant rule that brings this all together:

§ 97.213   Telecommand of an amateur station.

An amateur station on or within 50 km of the Earth's surface may be under telecommand where:

(a) There is a radio or wireline control link between the control point and the station sufficient for the control operator to perform his/her duties. If radio, the control link must use an auxiliary station. A control link using a fiber optic cable or another telecommunication service is considered wireline.

(b) Provisions are incorporated to limit transmission by the station to a period of no more than 3 minutes in the event of malfunction in the control link.

(c) The station is protected against making, willfully or negligently, unauthorized transmissions.

(d) 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 is posted in a conspicuous place at the station location.



§ 97.3   Definitions.

(a) The definitions of terms used in part 97 are:


(13) Control operator. 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.

(14) Control point. The location at which the control operator function is performed.

(44) Telecommand. A one-way transmission to initiate, modify, or terminate functions of a device at a distance.




My interpretation is that a pile of equipment may be operated by a duly licensed amateur, within the privileges of the license, as long as the documentation exists that assigns that licensee as the control operator. No different than if you were to rent a handie talkie for use at some event or camping trip. As long as you have wireline control, and there is a transmit time limiter that can sense loss of control and shut down the transmitter within 3 minutes of loss of control.

This may presume that the entire Internet link is over terrestrial wire or fiber links. Since this would be very difficult to verify for the consumer of such, there does exist the simple system that is used by commercial radio stations all across the land... Telephone remote control. This could be a commercial type transmitter remote control, or a homebrew analog phone with a relay attached to the ringer that would trigger a radio to standby. It just needs to work.

There are probably some scenarios implementing a mixture of V/U repeaters, a radio link system, or 10m repeater link to serve as an "auxiliary station" that might comply with the intent of the rules.

If an owner of a pile of equipment posts documentation designating the current lessee of the pile of equipment as the control operator, and the pile of equipment can be controlled over the internet, and also dialed up on the phone and shut down, then this would be perfectly within Part 97 rules. The control operator uses his own callsign, stays within his license privileges, and all is good. When the lease is up, the control operator documentation is removed, and the station reverts to being a pile of equipment waiting for the next lessee.

Ideally, but not exclusively, this sort of system would be under the guidance of a duly FCC licensed amateur radio operator who could also go through the formality of transferring control operation to and from lessees, and performing routine station maintenance.
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