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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 llite 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.

Technicians are only allowed voice in the 10 metre bands (specifically, SSB only). The power limit is 200 watts PEP for Technicians on HF.

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.


The FCC issues the station callsigns used by Amateurs. Callsigns indicate that the licence is issued by the United States (the FCC), and in some cases the class of licence, and state or territory. A person can only hold a single US callsign.

It is however possible to obtain a "1x1" special event callsign; and clubs can hold more than callsign for various reasons, including as a memorial for a deceased member.

In Australia, if you are wealthy, you can have several callsigns, provided you pay the fees and taxes. Some keep their old "Z-call", meaning Limited licence, which indicated the person had not passed a Morse test, so could only use VHF and up; plus a "2 letter" call. Note that Z-calls can now use MF & HF bands. Or they may hold one for their VK2 home in NSW, and a VK4 for their farm in Queensland.

You can also hold callsigns in several countries, although the need for this is in some cases diminishing.


Beacons operate on 10m, VHF, UHF, to assist amateurs in understanding propagation; and to know when an "opening" occurs, meaning that the ionospheric or tropospheric conditions are allowing long distance (DX) contacts.

Off the exam, but the IARU Beacon network operates on 20, 17, 15, 12, and 10 metres; or 14.100, 18.110, 21.150, 24.930, and 28.200 MHz. Eighteen stations around the world transmit in 10 second slots over 3 minutes. By knowing the time, or reading the Morse, it is possible to know which station you are hearing. The ID is at 100 watts, but the last 4 seconds are a second each at 100, 10, 1, and 0.1 watts. The US ones are Maui, Hawaiʻi; in Santa Clara COunty, CA; and on the UN Building in New York City, using a United Nations callsign, 4U1UN. Down-under there is one in Perth, WA, and in Masterton, NZ.


RACES is one of several emergency support groups, using operators certified by a civil defence group.

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 contractors. 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. Homeland Security
C. The FCC
D. All of these choices are correct

The Federal Communications Commission is the US Government agency responsible for enforcing the rules for ham radio, answer C. FEMA is the emergency management body, and Homeland Security a large government department.

T1A03* [97.119(b)(2)]
What are the FCC rules regarding the use of a phonetic alphabet for station identification in the Amateur Radio Service?
A. It is required when transmitting emergency messages
B. It is prohibited
C. It is required when in contact with foreign stations
D. It is encouraged

Using correct phonetics is encouraged, answer D (for Delta). This should be the NATO / ITU / ICAO / IMO spelling alphabet, but you will hear older veterans using the alphabet from the time of their service, and made-up ones using city names. If there is a chance of an inquest, you really want your emergency message sent as correctly as possible. "There is a motor vehicle accident in Fredville, at West Street, cross of Miora Road, that's Mike India Oscar Romeo Alpha. You can use "I spell" ahead of the phonetics. Or "The driver has decamped north on Smith Street in a red Commodore, New South Wales plate, Sierra Foxtrot Five Niner Charlie November". It is also a courtesy to operators with limited English to use the correct terms. Many European operators would have completed a year of military service after school, and learnt these.

T1A04* [97.5(b)(1)]
How many operator/primary station license grants may be held by any one person?
A. One
B. No more than two
C. One for each band on which the person plans to operate
D. One for each permanent station location from which the person plans to operate

To stop hoarding of callsigns, US amateurs are only allowed to have one licence and thus only one US callsign. Even if you have a station at a holiday house, or at a parent's house which you visit periodically, you use your own call. Answer A.

T1A05* [97.7]
What is proof of possession of an FCC-issued operator/primary license grant?
A. A printed operator/primary station license issued by the FCC must be displayed at the transmitter site
B. The control operator must have an operator/primary station license in his or her possession when in control of a transmitter
C. The control operator's operator/primary station license must appear in the FCC ULS consolidated licensee database
D. All of these choices are correct

The licence in active once it appears in the FCC's Universal Licensing System, answer C. The FCC no longer routinely prints and mails station licences, however you can either request one, on regular paper only, or print the PDF version. The print includes a small page for framing, and a strip which can be folding over and laminated to form a wallet-sized version. It is however the ULS entry which is the proof.

T1A06* [97.3(a)(9)]
What is the FCC Part 97 definition of a "beacon"?
A. A government transmitter marking the amateur radio band edges
B. A bulletin sent by the FCC to announce a national emergency
C. An amateur station transmitting communications for the purposes of observing propagation or related experimental activities
D. A continuous transmission of weather information authorized in the amateur bands by the National Weather Service

A beacon is a transmitter, usually sending its callsign using Morse code (CW) to assist in determining the possibility of long-range propagation. Many are in the VHF and UHF bands. If you monitor these, using a multi-mode radio, you can tell when conditions allows DX. Answer C.

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 appointed by the FCC
B. Volunteer Frequency Coordinator recognized by local amateurs
C. FCC Regional Field Office
D. International Telecommunications Union

Unlike in some countries, such as Australia, where the regulator licences each repeater (and they have special R calls, like VK2RNS), in the US any group or person can set up their own repeater, using their own licence and callsign. 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 local 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)(38), 97.407]
Which of the following describes the Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES)?
A. A radio service using amateur frequencies for emergency management or civil defense communications
B. A radio service using amateur stations for emergency management or civil defense communications
C. An emergency service using amateur operators certified by a civil defense organization as being enrolled in that organization
D. All of these choices are correct

RACES uses specifically registered licensed Amateur personnel, on Amateur bands, to provide emergency and civil defence, up to and including after a nuclear strike, answer D. My understanding is that RACES supports government agencies; ARES non-government groups, but that many operators make themselves available for both services.

T1A11~ [97.101 (d)]
When is willful interference to other amateur radio stations permitted?
A. To stop another amateur station which is breaking the FCC rules
B. At no time
C. When making short test transmissions
D. At any time, amateurs are not protected from willful interference

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

T1A12 - T1A14 deleted

What is the International Telecommunications Union (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 term International indicates it is an International organisation, and the only one which matches this is United Nations agency, answer B.

T1B02⇅≈ [97.301, 97.207(c)]
Which amateur radio stations may make contact with an amateur radio station on the International Space Station (ISS) using 2 meter and 70 cm band frequencies?
A. Only members of amateur radio clubs at NASA facilities
B. Any amateur holding a Technician or higher-class license
C. Only the astronaut's family members who are hams
D. Contacts with the ISS are not permitted on amateur radio frequencies

The important part of this question is not so much the space aspect (in 97.207(c) which authorises space operations and specifies bands and band segments for this), but the 2m and 70cm bands, which are only authorised for Technicians and higher (97.301), answer B. Novices can't use these bands, so clearly can't "uplink" on these bands. COLOR="#777777">Renumbered from T8B04, with modification.

T1B03= [97.301(a)]
Which frequency is within the 6 meter band?
A. 49.00 MHz
B. 52.525 MHz
C. 28.50 MHz
D. 222.15 MHz

Two ways to get the answer: 300 / 6 = 50 MHz, but there are two similar answers, so better to rely in knowing the band runs from 50 to 54 MHz. So 52.525 MHz is the answer, answer B. This frequency is the global FM calling frequency on this band. 49 MHz is an unlicensed low power walkie-talkie band, the others are in other ham bands.

T1B04= [97.301(a)]
Which amateur band are you using when your station is transmitting on 146.52 MHz?
A. 2 meter band
B. 20 meter band
C. 14 meter band
D. 6 meter band

300 / 146.52 = 2.0475 metres, very close to answer A, the name of the popular VHF band. This is the FM calling frequency (simplex) for this band, used because the 30 kHz spacing is used in North America. 6 and 20 m are two other Amateur bands, dunno where 14 comes from, I suppose it is the frequency of the 20 metre band.

T1B05* (B) [97.305(c)] What is the limitation for emissions on the frequencies between 219 and 220 MHz? A. Spread spectrum only B. Fixed digital message forwarding systems only C. Emergency traffic only D. Fast-scan television only

This segment in restricted to registered fixed digital message (packet) forwarding systems only, answer B.

T1B06* [97.301(e), 97.305]
On which HF bands does a Technician class operator have phone privileges?
A. None
B. 10 meter band only
C. 80 meter, 40 meter, 15 meter and 10 meter bands
D. 30 meter bands only

SSB voice (phone) is allowed only on 10 metres, answer B for Bravo. Techs do have CW privileges on a few HF bands. No US amateur is allowed voice on the last, but VKs do.

T1B07* [97.305(a), (c)]
Which of the following VHF/UHF frequency ranges are limited to CW only?
A. 50.0 MHz to 50.1 MHz and 144.0 MHz to 144.1 MHz
B. 219 MHz to 220 MHz and 420.0 MHz to 420.1 MHz
C. 902.0 MHz to 902.1 MHZ
D. All of these choices are correct

It is the two lower VHF bands, 6m and 2, answer A.

T1B08~ [97.303]
Which of the following is a result of the fact that the Amateur Radio Service is secondary in all or portions of some amateur bands (such as 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 in those portions
D. Digital transmissions are not permitted in those portions

The Secondary status means that there are other "Primary" users in these bands, 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 still drift. If you are operating at the upper 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, means 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 following HF bands have frequencies available to the Technician class operator for RTTY and data transmissions?
A. 10 meters, 12 meters, 17 meters, and 40 meters
B. 10 meters, 15 meters, 40 meters, 80 meters
C. 30 meters only
D. 10 meters only

10 metres is the only HF bands where Technicians have privileges beyond CW, and this includes RTTY and data. Answer D.

T1B11* [97.313]
What is the maximum peak envelope power output for Technician class operators using their assigned portions of the HF bands?
A. 200 watts
B. 100 watts
C. 50 watts
D. 10 watts

This is 200 watts PEP. Answer A, for Alpha. As CW is a pure wave, the PEP and average power are the same in this case, and thus this exceeds the power VK hams can use for this mode...

T1B12* [97.313(b)]
Except for some specific restrictions, what is the maximum peak envelope power output for Technician class operators using frequencies above 30 MHz?
A. 50 watts
B. 100 watts
C. 500 watts
D. 1500 watts

It is 1500 watts, answer D. Technician was the old "no-code" licence, allowing operation on VHF, UHF, and up, as the Limited "Z-call" licence did in Australia; and both have/had full rights on these bands, Limiteds becoming "Advanced".

T1B13 removed.

On to: Regulations 2

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

Written by Julian Sortland, VK2YJS & AG6LE, February 2018.

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