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Author Topic: required/optional prefixes/suffixes and call area  (Read 11025 times)
N3II
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« on: March 20, 2017, 01:56:11 AM »

I'm a US ham living (and operating) in Europe for a while. Here there are in general more requirements still in place about the use of prefixes and suffixes, and callsign numbers correlate often to the region of the country where one's station is located.

I find this information in the callsign really helpful, especially while operating: among other things it helps geographically locate a station immediately without your having to be online to look it up.

I have a sense that we used to be more strict about that in the US. The looser rules on call sign numbers in US call signs seems to me to be a real disadvantage (even/especially with all the vanity call signs now). Can anyone explain why we got more lax (or point me in the direction of an answer).

Thanks & 73,
David - DL/N3II
« Last Edit: March 20, 2017, 02:01:30 AM by N3II » Logged
W3HF
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« Reply #1 on: March 20, 2017, 03:08:25 AM »

David -

You're right, things used to be more strict. FCC loosened those rules in 1978 or 1979, when they eliminated the requirement that callsigns had to match the district where the address of record was. We used to have to change callsigns when moving from (say) NJ to California (which I did in 1979). But I was able to keep my WA2 call as the rules had just changed.

When relocations were allowed without a matching callsign, it was inconsistent to enforce portable/mobile identifiers so they went away. My guess is that the FCC wasn't as concerned about the considerations you mention.

On the other hand, with the proliferation of computer-based and online callsign lookups, it's much easier to figure out quickly where someone is than it was back in the days of paper callbooks.

Steve
W3HF
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N9KX
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« Reply #2 on: March 20, 2017, 11:43:39 AM »

David -

You're right, things used to be more strict. FCC loosened those rules in 1978 or 1979, when they eliminated the requirement that callsigns had to match the district where the address of record was. We used to have to change callsigns when moving from (say) NJ to California (which I did in 1979). But I was able to keep my WA2 call as the rules had just changed.

When relocations were allowed without a matching callsign, it was inconsistent to enforce portable/mobile identifiers so they went away. My guess is that the FCC wasn't as concerned about the considerations you mention.

On the other hand, with the proliferation of computer-based and online callsign lookups, it's much easier to figure out quickly where someone is than it was back in the days of paper callbooks.

Steve
W3HF

Hi Steve,

The way I remember it, and I think this is what you have outlined above, is that your callsign number had to match your district, so you had two options if you moved out-of-district:

1. Get a new callsign with the new district's number
2. Retain your callsign but always identify as _#_ _ / # so that it was clear what district you were operating in.

It sounds like you are saying that the FCC was convinced that #2 was somehow inconsistent(?)  If so could you please elaborate?

Also, your point, that today with the proliferation of online callsign look-ups the out of district callsign numbers are not such a big deal, is well-taken. 
(at least until the internet goes down -- which seems rare these days -- or for one reason or another one has no online access)
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K8EZB
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« Reply #3 on: May 15, 2017, 11:48:40 AM »

Just re-licensed after almost 60 years off the air. Was able to recover my previous General call sign (K8EZB) as a vanity call sign. Now getting up to speed in several areas before pressing the PTT switch. Much is familiar even after such a long lapse. Lots of new things to learn re regulations and transmission modes. I am intending to set up multiple fixed stations in Region 1 where I now reside. One will be at my residence address as shown on my license. At least two others will be at other addresses. I am unclear how to identify my station when operating a station at an address other than the address on my license. I am assuming that K8EZB/1 might be the proper ID. Any authoritative advice on this?

Thanks,

RB
« Last Edit: May 15, 2017, 11:53:36 AM by K8EZB » Logged
KS2G
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« Reply #4 on: May 15, 2017, 06:31:16 PM »

I am unclear how to identify my station when operating a station at an address other than the address on my license. I am assuming that K8EZB/1 might be the proper ID. Any authoritative advice on this?

There is no regulatory requirement to indicate in which call district or at what location you are operating.
Where-ever you are within the jurisdiction of the FCC (at your home address or elsewhere) your LEGAL identification is just K8EZB ... your "assigned call sign". (See rules exceprt below.)

That said, you are free to informally use an indicator denoting your location -- such as K8EZB/1 or "K8EZB-Portable", etc.

ยง97.119   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.

(c) One or more indicators may be included with the call sign. Each indicator must be separated from the call sign by the slant mark (/) or by any suitable word that denotes the slant mark. If an indicator is self-assigned, it must be included before, after, or both before and after, the call sign. No self-assigned indicator may conflict with any other indicator specified by the FCC Rules or with any prefix assigned to another country.
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K8EZB
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« Reply #5 on: May 15, 2017, 07:00:36 PM »

Quote
There is no regulatory requirement to indicate in which call district or at what location you are operating.

Thanks! Easier than I expected!

RB
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W3HF
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« Reply #6 on: May 16, 2017, 05:25:12 AM »


... The way I remember it, and I think this is what you have outlined above, is that your callsign number had to match your district, so you had two options if you moved out-of-district:

...
2. Retain your callsign but always identify as _#_ _ / # so that it was clear what district you were operating in.

It sounds like you are saying that the FCC was convinced that #2 was somehow inconsistent(?)  If so could you please elaborate?

Oops, I forgot that there was a question in here, and I didn't respond. Sorry about that.

I don't think #2 was really allowed. The licenses at the time had separate fields for mailing address and "fixed station operation location". I'm pretty sure the callsign had to match the station location, not the mailing address. Unless you somehow still had a presence at the old address (like it was a relative's residence) I don't think you could leave the station location unchanged when you moved even if you did change the mailing address. After all, that would technically be a fraudulent application--stating a station location when you had no legal right to have a station there. And when you changed the station location, you'd automatically get a new callsign, matching the district of the new location--there was no option to retain the old callsign.

I'm sure there were some people that did that, for example, continuing to use their parents' address after moving away. (I did that for the whole time I was in college, though college was really just a temporary address; "home" really was my permanent address.) But those are cases where there still was a legal connection to the old address. Without that connection, I would have viewed it as fraud.
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W9ZIM
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« Reply #7 on: May 16, 2017, 08:22:56 AM »

Can anyone explain why we got more lax (or point me in the direction of an answer).

That's an interesting question, and I can't find the answer.
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KD8IIC
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« Reply #8 on: May 16, 2017, 07:11:30 PM »

  ZIM; Where have you been since the 70's?HuhHuh
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W9ZIM
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« Reply #9 on: May 19, 2017, 04:19:23 AM »

  ZIM; Where have you been since the 70's?HuhHuh

I've been a licensed amateur since around 1994, so I got into the hobby long after the FCC change that particular rule.  I'm just not sure why they changed it.
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W3HF
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« Reply #10 on: May 19, 2017, 06:13:25 AM »

Can anyone explain why we got more lax (or point me in the direction of an answer).

That's an interesting question, and I can't find the answer.

I don't recall if the FCC gave any specific reason back when the change happened. Maybe something is in an old issue of QST. But my speculation is a combination of the following two perspectives.

1. I believe the original reason for requiring fixed station locations was to provide a mechanism for enforcement, primarily investigations of interference. Back in the early 1930s, only fixed station operation was permitted unless you notified the FCC in advance of every specific planned portable/mobile operation. This was relaxed later in the 30s to the requirement that you identify as portable or mobile with the call district you were in. That rule stayed in place until the change we're talking about in the late 70s. Over this period, I suspect technology improved to the point where FCC's capability to DF stations in real time eclipsed a need to have station locations documented a priori. If enforcement actions didn't need station locations to be documented in the licenses, that paved the way for simplification of the license system (by deleting the station location requirement entirely).

2. The US population was becoming more mobile--more people were moving larger distances over their lifetimes. This meant more license modifications being required, and more callsigns being "used up." FCC had (by the mid-70s) completely exhausted the W 1x3s and K 1x3s in all districts, the WA 2x3s in most districts, and even the WB 2x3s in some districts (at least for initial issue). Eliminating a need to issue a new callsign for a licensee move meant that callsigns would "last longer" (in the general sense).

Note that these reasons only consider the FCC perspective. They have nothing to do with the considerations we amateurs have of why we may want callsigns to indicate locations (like "why am I hearing a 7-land station on my 440 repeater in NYC?", or "gotta catch that KH6 on 80m PSK--darn, he's really in Tennessee"). I don't believe the FCC would have viewed those reasons as compelling, compared to the ones above.
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WB6BYU
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« Reply #11 on: May 19, 2017, 11:34:05 AM »

I think it had to do with being able to find and/or notify you in case your station was causing interference.

"Back in the day" we also had to send in a notice of portable operation if we were going to be away from
our home address for more than 3 days.  I remember sending a lot of these: at Scout camp for a summer,
at college, working for the Forest Service during the summer, etc.  In some cases, describing the station
location was not trivial:  in one village I provided a bearing and distance from the post office flag pole.

I suspect that, as the population became more mobile, the number of such notifications became a burden,
and the FCC realized that they really weren't very useful (as long as they could still contact you by mail
through your official mailing address.)  It may also be that their HF DF system became more effective,
so that they didn't need to know in advance where you were located.
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W9ZIM
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« Reply #12 on: May 21, 2017, 05:09:32 PM »

Note that these reasons only consider the FCC perspective. They have nothing to do with the considerations we amateurs have of why we may want callsigns to indicate locations (like "why am I hearing a 7-land station on my 440 repeater in NYC?", or "gotta catch that KH6 on 80m PSK--darn, he's really in Tennessee"). I don't believe the FCC would have viewed those reasons as compelling, compared to the ones above.

And see, I don't understand why hams still have that mentality, because it has been decades since the numeral reliably indicated the zone.
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W3HF
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« Reply #13 on: May 22, 2017, 06:06:42 AM »

Note that these reasons only consider the FCC perspective. They have nothing to do with the considerations we amateurs have of why we may want callsigns to indicate locations (like "why am I hearing a 7-land station on my 440 repeater in NYC?", or "gotta catch that KH6 on 80m PSK--darn, he's really in Tennessee"). I don't believe the FCC would have viewed those reasons as compelling, compared to the ones above.

And see, I don't understand why hams still have that mentality, because it has been decades since the numeral reliably indicated the zone.

Yes, it's been decades since the rules change. But even with that, the vast majority of license holders have mailing addresses that match the district in their callsign. VanityHQ used to publish that statistic--my recollection was that it was around 88% as of a few years ago. (Does anyone have a current reference for that statistic?)
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W9ZIM
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« Reply #14 on: May 22, 2017, 06:57:01 AM »

Well, in my case, I applied for W9ZIM even though I live in 8-land, because I found "8Z" to be difficult to enunciate.  The hard T in "eight" makes for a rough transition to the Z sound, and it often came out sounding like "WAZIM".  W9ZIM rolls off the tongue, and I really like the phonetic "Whiskey Niner".
« Last Edit: May 22, 2017, 07:01:27 AM by W9ZIM » Logged
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