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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 in the USA 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 broadcasting. It closely regulates content on over-thar-air broadcasting, but not cable and satellite TV, which explains the quite strict restrictions on language and cast lacking attire on some US shows, but not others (eg, those from HBO). 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, amplitude modulation is also permitted, nicknamed "ancient modulation". CW, or Morse Code is allowed in all bands, generated by straight key, paddle or automated key, or computer.

The only HF band on which Technicians are allowed to use voice is the 10 metre band, and this is restricted to SSB only. CW / Morse is permitted on selected bands, as it is for "grandfathered" Novices. The power limit is 200 watts PEP for Technicians and Novices 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, and to some extent in the 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; and likewise to 144 to 146 MHz, rather than 144 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 in Region 1. Most of Asia is in Region 3, as is Oceania.

These regions are different to ITU zones, of which there are 90.

Off on a tangent, some countries are geographically in (western) Asia, but are members of European institutions. Examples are Georgia and Azerbaijan, both one-time Soviet republics. Those having broadcasters with full membership of the European Broadcasting Union may compete in the Eurovision Song Contest. One associate member also does, SBS in Australia. Scotland currently does not, as it is, in early 2022, a constituent nation of the UK. #INDYREF2 will likely change this.

As of March 2022, while Russia's criminal actions have resulted in them being thrown out of sporting and cultural events, and their broadcasters from the EBU, they remain members of the CEPT and ITU. Their accomplice Belarus's broadcaster is already out due to its use as a propaganda tool of the government, and oppression of staff. Amateur contacts with Russia remain legal, and their participation of the Amateur agreements appears to remain active.

Various large US broadcasters, including NPR, are associate members of the EBU.


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.

Technician and General operator callsigns are issued from the same pool, and are 2x3 in the "lower 48" states. In Alaska Generals get a 2x2, from a special pool, and likewise in smaller regions in the Pacific and Carribean. There is a small list for Antarctica. Extra class hams get callsigns 2x2 calls from a different pool, such as my AG6LE.

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. They however can no longer obtain more than one callsign, and to obtain a new vanity call must relinquish other callsigns.

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, although this is generally not a requirement.

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

Only the ability of overseas (or "alien") Hams to operate in the US is covered on the exam, but these are several of the arrangements:


Most or all European countries are members of the Conference of European Postal and Telecommunications Administration, including Belarus and Russia. Despite the idiocy called Brexit, the UK remains a member, including the Crown Dependencies, but not the British Overseas Territories.

Their Recommendation T/R 61-01, agreed to by many, but not all members allows operation across much of Europe by member countries' operators with a licence complying with their standards, typically the country's highest grade(s) of licence. The parts of France outside Europe are covered; as are Greenland and the Faroe Islands, as part of the Danish Realm. The Netherlands's overseas countries and territories are signatories, including those in Region 2.

A second agreement, ECC Recommendation (05)06, to which fewer members have signed up, allows Novice level operators to operate in other signatorys' territories. Some counbtries, such as Georgia and Azerbaijan are CEPT members, but not part of either agreement.

Several countries outside the CEPT are participants in these systems. US Extra and Advanced licence holders benefit from T/R 61-01, and Generals from (05)06. US Novices and Technicians do not. Australian Advanced licence holders benefit from T/R 61-01.

The documents are: T/R 61-01 and 05(06)


There is also an agreement between the USA and Canada; while the International Amateur Radio Permit is a document US hams can obtain from the ARRL, permitting amateur operations in certain other countries in the Americas.


Beacons operate on 10m, VHF, and 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.

The typical beacon transmits its callsign in Morse, sometimes between periods of solid carrier. A few send very slow Morse, which computers can decode from very weak signals.

Something like hearing marine VHF stations from a significant distance can indicate DX on 2 metres is also possible.

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 exact 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 one in Masterton, NZ.


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

Phonetic Alphabet

The International Radiotelephony Spelling Alphabet, also named for several aviation, military, and marine users, is recommended for use in Amateur Radio:

Alfa, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, Echo, Foxtrot, Golf, Hotel, India, Juliett, Kilo, Lima, Mike, November, Oscar, Papa, Quebec, Romeo, Sierra, Tango, Uniform, Victor, Whiskey, X-ray, Yankee, Zulu

The pronunciation of several numerals is varied, for clarity. The most significant is "niner" for 9. Zero is used for 0. "November Niner Hotel" or "Kilo Zero Alfa" are examples. The decimal point may be said as "decimal", such as "Three Decimal Six Megahertz".

Note that these do NOT appear on the exam, simply a reference to the recommendation to use a "phonetic alphabet".

Graphics can be seen here and here, and a PDF here.

"Phonetic" is not an accurate term for this alphabet, as the term properly refers to a set of letters and symbols used by those who study languages to indicate pronunciation, and to discuss regional variations.

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 part of the Basis and Purpose of the Amateur Radio Service?
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 these choices are correct

It is the advancement of skills relating to radio, answer C.

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. For personal communications Citizens' Band and Family Radio Service radios are are available.

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.

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 encouraged
C. It is required when in contact with foreign stations
D. All these choices are correct

Using phonetics is encouraged, answer B, for Bravo.

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. They are also good for number places, such as, 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.

If using a repeater, and signals are clear, phonetics tend not to be necessary, unless spelling difficult names.

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 the same callsign. Answer A.

T1A05 [97.7]
What proves that the FCC has issued an operator/primary license grant?
A. A printed copy of the certificate of successful completion of examination
B. An email notification from the NCVEC granting the license
C. The license appears in the FCC ULS database
D. All 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. A continuous transmission of weather information authorized in the amateur bands by the National Weather Service
D. An amateur station transmitting communications for the purposes of observing propagation or related experimental activities

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 D.

T1A07 [97.3(a)(41)]
What is the FCC Part 97 definition of a space station?
A. Any satellite orbiting Earth
B. A manned satellite orbiting Earth
C. An amateur station located more than 50 km above Earth's surface
D. An amateur station using amateur radio satellites for relay of signals

This is a station more than 50 km above the Earth's surface, answer C.

This is well above aircraft operating altitude, but below satellite and space station altitude.

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

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.

In some countries, such as Australia, the regulator licences each repeater, and they have special R calls, such as VK2RNS.

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]
What is 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.

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.

T1B01 [97.301 (e)]
Which of the following frequency ranges are available for phone operation by Technician licensees?
A. 28.050 MHz to 28.150 MHz
B. 28.100 MHz to 28.300 MHz
C. 28.300 MHz to 28.500 MHz
D. 28.500 MHz to 28.600 MHz

Technicians can use SSB on 28.300 MHz to 28.500 MHz, answer C.

T1B02 (B) [97.301, 97.207(c)]
Which amateurs may contact the International Space Station (ISS) on VHF bands?
A. Any amateur holding a General class or higher license
B. Any amateur holding a Technician class or higher license
C. Any amateur holding a General class or higher license who has applied for and received approval from NASA
D. Any amateur holding a Technician class or higher license who has applied for and received approval from NASA

97.207(c) authorises space operations and specifies bands and band segments for this), with the only VHF band being 2 metres. 97.301 only authorises 2 metres for Technicians and higher. Thus the answer is B.

Novices can't use 2 metres, so can't "uplink" on this bands.

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 meters
B. 20 meter bands
C. 70 centimeters
D. 6 meters

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, with the .52 ending used due to the 30 kHz spacing is used in North America.

T1B05 [97.305(c)]
How may amateurs use the 219 to 220 MHz segment of 1.25 meter band?
A. Spread spectrum only
B. Fast-scan television only
C. Emergency traffic only
D. Fixed digital message forwarding systems only

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

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.

T1B07 [97.305(a), (c)]
Which of the following VHF/UHF band segments 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]
How are US amateurs restricted in segments of bands where the Amateur Radio Service is secondary?
A. U.S. amateurs may find non-amateur stations in those segments, and must avoid interfering with them
B. U.S. amateurs must give foreign amateur stations priority in those segments
C. International communications are not permitted in those segments
D. Digital transmissions are not permitted in those segments

The Secondary status means that there are non-amateur "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. 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. Answer D, for Delta.

T1B10 [97.305(c)]
Where may SSB phone be used in amateur bands above 50 MHz?
A. Only in sub-bands allocated to General class or higher licensees
B. Only on repeaters
C. In at least some segment of all these bands
D. On any band if the power is limited to 25 watts

SSB can be used on a least part of all bands. Answer C, for Charlie.

That said, there are also voluntary band places which indicate uses other than SSB, be it FM voice, or data.

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 sine 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. Limited licence holders, such as myself becoming "Advanced".

On to: Regulations 2

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

Written by Julian Sortland, VK2YJS & AG6LE, February 2022.

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