The Sundance Mountain Radio Association recently filed a Petition for Rulemaking asking the FCC to reestablish consistency between the call area indicated by an amateur radio callsign and its actual physical location. The current rules allow an amateur radio licensee to retain their current callsign when moving to a new call area and to operate outside of their normal call area without any special indicator. The proposed changes would no longer allow this practice and would force a change to all existing licenses to match the station location indicated on the amateur radio license.
In its petition, the Sundance Mountain Radio Association asserts that there is unnecessary and harmful confusion caused to daily amateur radio operation because the radio callsign is not a reliable indicator of station location. “It is common to work a W9 station and find out the guy actually moved to Florida years ago,” said Leroy Walker (KVØCO), President of the Sundance Mountain Radio Association (Palmer Lake, CO). “This wastes precious time when I am trying to work a particular state or area of the country. The other day, a KL7 station came booming in on 160m and I thought I had a new DXCC entity. Turns out, he was in Nebraska.”
The petition proposes that the FCC automatically modify all amateur radio callsigns in the Universal Licensing System such that the call area indicated in the license matches the station location on record. For example, a licensee with the callsign W6ABC living in Texas would receive a new callsign, W5ABC. In the event that W5ABC is not an available callsign, W6ABC would receive a sequentially-issued callsign from Group A, Group B, Group C or Group D, depending on license class. The petition proposes that all future changes in station location be subject to the same procedures, ensuring that all callsigns are consistent with geographical call area. In addition, all vanity license applications must conform to this rule. Radio amateurs operating outside their call area temporarily will be required to identify as “portable” or “mobile” and indicate the actual operating call area (e.g., W6ABC/5).
This is an initial Petition for Rulemaking and the FCC has not yet responded. Walker mentioned that this proposal is the first of many expected to be put forth by the radio club’s Committee to Fix Amateur Radio. Leroy said, “We’ve got a really smart group of guys coming up with some great ideas to improve ham radio.”
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