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Amateur Radio Info & Exams - Regulations 1

These are regulations you need to know to pass the US Technician exam. As Techs are primarily allowed in the VHF and UHF bands, the questions mainly cover this spectrum. If you also take the higher exams, these include questions relating to the HF bands, where they are able to operate, and to things like being a Volunteer Examiner. If you are doing to exam to obtain an Australian licence, note that while ITU rules means that Australia has similar rules, there are some rules which are less restrictive, some more restrictive. Thus you should make sure you read the LCD, the Licence Conditions Determinations, published by ACMA, the Australian regulator. Note also that, even if the US restricts sailing Amateurs in the western Pacific to 430 to 440 MHz, in compliance with ITU guidelines, these guidelines do not prevent Australia from allowing access to a frequencies outside this within its territory, as this is unlikely to interfere with users outside Australia. Also, Australia allows voice on 30m (10 MHz), which most countries, including the US, don't.

Role of FCC

Amateur Radio is regulated by the Federal Communications Commission, an agency of the Federal government of the United States. This agency also regulates business and lower level government radio communications, CB, telephone services, and some aspect of the Internet, plus terrestrial broadcasting, but not satellite TV, which explains the quite strict restrictions on language and cast lacking attire on some US shows, but not others. Federal government communications, including military are regulated by other agencies.

The FCC regulations are Title 47 of the Code of Federal Regulations, and so are part of US administrative law, meaning that the FCC can change parts without reference to Congress, or the President. Instead, the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking is open for public consultation for a period, then either enacted or rejected.

Amateur Radio, or the "Amateur Service" and the "Amateur Satellite Service" is also subject to the regulations of the ITU, the International Telecommunications Union, a United Nations body. The FCC is supposed to comply with ITU regulations, such as the formation of callsigns, and the use of radio bands, amateur and otherwise.

Basis and purpose

Rule 97.1 states the following as the purpose of Amateur Radio.

The rules and regulations in this part are designed to provide an amateur radio service having a fundamental purpose as expressed in the following principles:

  (a) Recognition and enhancement of the value of the amateur service to the public as a voluntary non-commercial communication service, particularly with respect to providing emergency communications.

  (b) Continuation and extension of the amateur's proven ability to contribute to the advancement of the radio art.

  (c) Encouragement and improvement of the amateur service through rules which provide for advancing skills in both the communication and technical phases of the art.

  (d) Expansion of the existing reservoir within the amateur radio service of trained operators, technicians, and electronics experts.

  (e) Continuation and extension of the amateur's unique ability to enhance international goodwill.

Permitted activities

Subject to band specific rules, Amateurs are allowed to use a wide range of "modes" of operation. The "entry level" option on the VHF and UHF bands is FM, frequency modulation, using hand-helds or "mobile" radios, but below 28 MHz FM is generally not permitted, due to its wide bandwidth. More advanced transceivers are able to operate in the single side-band mode (SSB), with upper side-band being used by convention. These are more efficient. AM, "ancient modulation", or rather, amplitude modulation is also permitted. CW, or Morse Code is allowed in all bands, generated by straight key, paddle or automated key, or computer.

Amateurs are permitted to use telemetry and telecommand, respectively meaning reading measurements from a distance, and controlling the operating of equipment remotely.

Mode restricted sub-bands

Of the bands available to Technician operator, all three of the VHF bands have sub-bands where the mode of operation is restricted, compared to the rest of the band. The lower 0.1 MHz (100 kHz) of both 6 metres and 2 metres are CW only sub-bands. These are thus 50 to 50.1 MHz, and 144 to 144.1 MHz. The lower portion of 1.25 metres is restricted to packet data forwarding only, from fixed stations. The stations using this are required to register with the ARRL, and to avoid interference to marine Automated Maritime Telecommunications System (AMTS), and other services.

Restriction by ITU Region

The world is divided into three regions by the International Telecommunications Union, Region 2 being the Americas, including Hawaii. But US territories such as Guam are in Region 3 (as is Australia), and US hams can operate on yachts close to Europe or Africa (Region 1); and in both these regions some bands are different. An example for Europe is emergency services in the 420 - 430 MHz band, or 146 to 148 MHz band, and so the US restricts operation in these areas to 430 to 440 MHz, rather than the 420 to 450 allowed in the continental US; likewise to 144 to 146 MHz, rather than extending to 148 MHz. Note that if a US amateur steps ashore in another country which allows them to operate as a visitor, then the local rules apply, so operation may be allowed below 430, or above 440 MHz.

All of Russia, plus the Middle East is Region 1, most of Asia, and Oceania is in Region 3. These are different to ITU zones, of which there are 90.

Relevant Questions

These are actual questions from the NCVEC question pool for Technicians.

For regulations questions, numbers in the square brackets are FCC rule the question in about. These are not printed on the exams. Also, answers and distractors may be presented in a different order to here.

T1A01 [97.1]
Which of the following is a purpose of the Amateur Radio Service as stated in the FCC rules and regulations?
A. Providing personal radio communications for as many citizens as possible
B. Providing communications for international non-profit organizations
C. Advancing skills in the technical and communication phases of the radio art
D. All of these choices are correct

The first two may sound like parts of 97.1, but the problem with A is the idea of it being personal communications, rather than non-profit service relating mainly to emergencies. While Amateurs may support global NGOs, such as the Red Cross in providing a response to disasters, routine communications are provided by their employees, volunteers, or commercial organisations. It is the advancement of skills, answer C.

T1A02 [97.1]
Which agency regulates and enforces the rules for the Amateur Radio Service in the United States?
B. The ITU
C. The FCC
D. Homeland Security

The Federal Communications Commission is the US Government agency responsible for enforcing the rules for ham radio, answer C. The ITU is a global body, without law enforcement functions. FEMA is the emergency management body, and Homeland Security a large government department.

Which part of the FCC regulations contains the rules governing the Amateur Radio Service?
A. Part 73
B. Part 95
C. Part 90
D. Part 97

Just remember Part 97, answer D. You will notice these rule numbers in these questions, but they are not on the exam papers. 73 is a Morse abbreviation meaning best wishes.

T1A04 [97.3(a)(23)]
Which of the following meets the FCC definition of harmful interference?
A. Radio transmissions that annoy users of a repeater
B. Unwanted radio transmissions that cause costly harm to radio station apparatus
C. That which seriously degrades, obstructs, or repeatedly interrupts a radio communication service operating in accordance with the Radio Regulations
D. Static from lightning storms

Saying "Trump belongs in one of Putin's gulags" on a repeater is not illegal, at least not yet, but would probably get a lot of people over-excited. Transmissions from one transmitter are unlikely to damage other stations, unless power is high, and antennas are very close. Static may cause interference to radio communications, but they are not directly made by humans. It is answer C. Not that the interference does not have to be deliberate to be unlawful, something like a plasma TV, or a poorly designed pool filter motor speed controller can cause such interference.

T1A05 [97.1 (e)]
Which of the following is a purpose of the Amateur Radio Service rules and regulations as defined by the FCC?
A. Enhancing international goodwill
B. Providing inexpensive communication for local emergency organizations
C. Training of operators in military radio operating procedures
D. All of these choices are correct

Amateurs are permitted to communicate with other Amateurs around the world, and to discover that, just maybe people in other countries are not as His Orangeness would have them believe. Answer A. Routine communications for local emergency agencies is provided by commercial providers, and the agency's employees or their volunteers. Perhaps a pool of people with an understanding of radio was, or maybe still is, a military advantage, but this is not a stated aim.

T1A06 [97.101 (d), 97.303 (o)(2)]
Which of the following services are protected from interference by amateur signals under all circumstances?
A. Citizens Radio Service
B. Broadcast Service
C. Land Mobile Radio Service
D. Radionavigation Service

Radionavigation services are a series of beacons, etc necessary for the navigation of aircraft and vessel, and includes things like GPS & GLONASS, so avoidance of interference is essential, answer D. The other services are CB; entertainment and news broadcasting; and business and sub-national government communications services.

T1A07 [97.3(a)(46)]
What is the FCC Part 97 definition of telemetry?
A. An information bulletin issued by the FCC
B. A one-way transmission to initiate, modify or terminate functions of a device at a distance
C. A one-way transmission of measurements at a distance from the measuring instrument
D. An information bulletin from a VEC

The bulletin ones are silly, but the other two are "tele", meaning "at a distance"; and the "metry" means measuring, so answer C. While the term can be used generically for both, in terms of the regulations, it is the measuring aspect. A similar question deals with "telecommand".

T1A08 [97.3(a)(22)]
Which of the following entities recommends transmit/receive channels and other parameters for auxiliary and repeater stations?
A. Frequency Spectrum Manager
B. Frequency Coordinator
C. FCC Regional Field Office
D. International Telecommunications Union

Unlike in some countries, such as Australia, where the regulator licences each repeater, in the US any group or person can set up their own repeater. Given the limited spectrum available, this can cause problems, such as either an operator easily triggering multiple repeaters, or the outputs interfering with each other. Repeater operators in an area should appoint a person as "Frequency Coordinator", to allocate frequencies for repeaters, and things like simplex accesses to Echolink and IRLP (Internet linked stations). Answer B.

T1A09 [97.3(a)(22)]
Who selects a Frequency Coordinator?
A. The FCC Office of Spectrum Management and Coordination Policy
B. The local chapter of the Office of National Council of Independent Frequency Coordinators
C. Amateur operators in a local or regional area whose stations are eligible to be auxiliary or repeater stations
D. FCC Regional Field Office

The local or regional repeater operators are supposed to select the Frequency Coordinator, answer C.

T1A10 [97.3(a)(5)]
What is the FCC Part 97 definition of an amateur station?
A. A station in the Amateur Radio Service consisting of the apparatus necessary for carrying on radio communications
B. A building where Amateur Radio receivers, transmitters, and RF power amplifiers are installed
C. Any radio station operated by a non-professional
D. Any radio station for hobby use

There are other hobby or non-professional radio uses, such as CB radio, and even radio controlled models. A station does not have to be a building, and can include a radio in a vehicle, boat, aircraft, or even a hand-held radio; thus answer A.

T1A11 [97.101 (d)]
When is willful interference to other amateur radio stations permitted?
A. Only if the station being interfered with is expressing extreme religious or political views
B. At no time
C. Only during a contest
D. At any time, amateurs are not protected from willful interference

Deliberate interference is not permitted at any time, answer B. (The correct spelling is "wilful", but double-L is used in the exam.)

Which of the following is a permissible use of the Amateur Radio Service?
A. Broadcasting music and videos to friends
B. Providing a way for amateur radio operators to earn additional income by using their stations to pass messages
C. Providing low-cost communications for start-up businesses
D. Allowing a person to conduct radio experiments and to communicate with other licensed hams around the world

Broadcasting, especially of music is generally unlawful, as is commercial use of Amateur bands. Experiments, and communicating with other Amateurs are among the objects of Amateur Radio, answer D.

T1A13 [97.3(a)(45)]
What is the FCC Part 97 definition of telecommand?
A. An instruction bulletin issued by the FCC
B. A one-way radio transmission of measurements at a distance from the measuring instrument
C. A one-way transmission to initiate, modify or terminate functions of a device at a distance
D. An instruction from a VEC

Again, drop the administrative ones, look at the "at a distance ones, and see that the "command" bit means "initiate, modify or terminate functions", and circle answer C.

T1A14 [97.303(d)]
What must you do if you are operating on the 23 cm band and learn that you are interfering with a radiolocation station outside the United States?
A. Stop operating or take steps to eliminate the harmful interference
B. Nothing, because this band is allocated exclusively to the amateur service
C. Establish contact with the radiolocation station and ask them to change frequency
D. Change to CW mode, because this would not likely cause interference

Aviation radar, or "radiolocation" stations operate in the 1200 to 1300 MHz spectrum, and if you are within perhaps a few hundred kilometres of the Canadian or Mexican border, or in the Caribbean, it is possible your signals could interfere with such stations. If this occurs, you need to stop operating in this band, or reduce power, or use a directional antenna pointing away from the station, or other measures.

What is the ITU?
A. An agency of the United States Department of Telecommunications Management
B. A United Nations agency for information and communication technology issues
C. An independent frequency coordination agency
D. A department of the FCC

The I in International Telecommunications Union indicates it is an International organisation, and the only one which matches this is United Nations agency, answer B.

T1B02 [97.301]
Why are the frequency assignments for some U.S. Territories different from those in the 50 U.S. States?
A. Some U. S. Territories are located in ITU regions other than region 2
B. Territorial governments are allowed to select their own frequency allocations
C. Territorial frequency allocations must also include those of adjacent countries
D. Any territory that was in existence before the ratification of the Communications Act of 1934 is exempt from FCC frequency regulations

The 50 States, including Hawaii are in ITU Region 2. Further west, territories such as Guam are in Region 3, which includes Oceania. Thus, for example, 1.25m, or 220-225 MHz is verbotten, and 70 cm shrinks. Answer A. Radio regulations and allocations in these territories are still up to the FCC, but should follow ITU guidelines.

Questions T1B03 to T1B07 were covered on the Frequency & Wavelength page.

T1B08 [97.303]
Which of the following is a result of the fact that the amateur service is secondary in some portions of the 70 cm band?
A. U.S. amateurs may find non-amateur stations in the bands, and must avoid interfering with them
B. U.S. amateurs must give foreign amateur stations priority in those portions
C. International communications are not permitted on 70 cm
D. Digital transmissions are not permitted on 70 cm

The Secondary status means that there are other "Primary" users in the band, and that Amateurs must avoid interfering with them, answer A.

T1B09 [97.101(a), 97.301(a-e)]
Why should you not set your transmit frequency to be exactly at the edge of an amateur band or sub-band?
A. To allow for calibration error in the transmitter frequency display
B. So that modulation sidebands do not extend beyond the band edge
C. To allow for transmitter frequency drift
D. All of these choices are correct

Oscillators in modern radios, which set that transmit frequency, while quite accurate, can be never the less have errors, and can drift slightly, due to factors such as temperature. With older radios, including those with a mechanical / analogue tuning dial, it was often necessary, for good operating practice, to adjust the dial against frequency standard stations, such as WWV and WWVH, then tune to the desired frequency; but if set on a cold radio, as the radio heats up, it will drift. If you are operating at the band edge using upper side-band, or at the bottom of the band, or bottom of the "phone" or voice section, using lower side-band, then your signal will go outside the authorised spectrum. Using AM (double-sideband) or FM, which spread in both directions mean that the emission will be outside the band, whether at the bottom or top of the authorised band.

T1B10 [97.301(e), 97.305(c)]
Which of the bands above 30 MHz that are available to Technician Class operators have mode-restricted sub-bands?
A. The 6 meter, 2 meter, and 70 cm bands
B. The 2 meter and 13 cm bands
C. The 6 meter, 2 meter, and 1.25 meter bands
D. The 2 meter and 70 cm bands

The lower 0.1 MHz (100 kHz) of both 6 metres and 2 metres are CW only sub-bands. The lower portion of 1.25 metres is restricted to packet data forwarding only. Answer C. The UHF band restrictions are geographic, etc, NOT mode related.

T1B11 [97.301(a), 97.305 (a)(c)]
What emission modes are permitted in the mode-restricted sub-bands at 50.0 to 50.1 MHz and 144.0 to 144.1 MHz?
A. CW only
B. CW and RTTY
C. SSB only
D. CW and SSB

CW only! Answer A. The other modes are permitted high up the band.

T1B12 [97.301]
Why are frequency assignments for U.S. stations operating maritime mobile not the same everywhere in the world?
A. Amateur maritime mobile stations in international waters must conform to the frequency assignments of the country nearest to their vessel
B. Amateur frequency assignments can vary among the three ITU regions
C. Frequency assignments are determined by the captain of the vessel
D. Amateur frequency assignments are different in each of the 90 ITU zones

The ITU, and thus the FCC, specify different frequency allocations in the different ITU regions, of which there are three. Answer B.

T1B13 [97.305(c)]
Which emission may be used between 219 and 220 MHz?
A. Spread spectrum
B. Data
C. SSB voice
D. Fast-scan television

This is a highly restricted Data-only sub-band, used for packet message forwarding, so B.

On to: Regulations 2

You can find links to lots more on the Learning Material page.

Written by Julian Sortland, VK2YJS & AG6LE, December 2017.

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