Volunteer Monitor Program Cautions Against Operating Beyond License Privileges
Source/Credit: The ARRL Letter for March 3, 2022
Many of the Advisory Notices sent out each month by the ARRL Volunteer Monitor Program go to stations heard operating outside the operator’s license privileges. While some may be doing so deliberately, it seems clear that many of these reports reflect a lack of clarity regarding the Part 97 — Amateur Radio Service rules.
Typical cases often involve operators holding Technician- or General-class amateur licenses being heard on a frequency or band not permitted by their license privileges. Most recent incidents have frequently entailed FT8 digital mode operation by Technician licensees on 20 and 40 meters. Technician licensees do not have any operating privileges on 20 meters, let alone digital privileges, and FT8 is a digital protocol.
Technicians (and Novices) may operate CW between 21.025 and 21.200 MHz on 15 meters, from 7.025 and 7.125 MHz on 40 meters, and from 3.525 to 3.600 MHz on 80 meters, but they do not have any digital (data) mode privileges on these bands.
ARRL Volunteer Monitor Program Administrator Riley Hollingsworth, K4ZDH, said licensees who need a refresher course regarding their operating privileges may refer to Section 97.301 of the rules. ARRL also has a convenient chart on its website that details privileges available to all license classes, from Novice to Amateur Extra.
As monthly Volunteer Monitor reports indicate, some General-class operators have lost their way on some bands too, and Advisory Notices have gone out to those operating outside of the General-class phone subbands. For example, on 20 meters, Generals may operate phone from 14.225 to 14.350 MHz, but occasionally, General-class operators are heard outside of that subband. On 40 meters, the phone and image subband open to General licensees is 7.175 to 7.300 MHz. Of course, Technician- and General-class licensees may operate CW on any subband on which they have operating privileges, although operation within the CW subbands is preferred by band plan.
On 10 meters, Technicians have RTTY and data privileges — including FT8 — from 28.000 to 28.300 MHz, and SSB phone privileges from 28.300 to 28.500 MHz, and may operate on CW over the entire 28.0000 – 28.500 MHz segment. Technicians may enjoy all operating privileges at 50 MHz and above.
The ARRL Volunteer Monitor program is a formal agreement between the FCC and ARRL. Volunteers trained and vetted by ARRL monitor the airwaves and report evidence that may be used to correct errant operation or to recognize exemplary on-air operation.