California Amateur Vhf Enthusiasts



                               Before the
                     Federal Communications Commission
                           Washington, DC 20554

                          PR Docket No. 93-305
In the Matter of
Amendment of the Amateur Service Rules 
to Implement a Vanity Call Sign System.

                      Memorandum Opinion and Order

Adopted: September 21, 1995; Released: October 2, 1995

By the Commission:

I.  INTRODUCTION

   1.  On December 23, 1994, we adopted a Report and Orde[1](Order) 
establishing a system for the assignment of vanity call signs to amateur 
stations. Petitions for Reconsideration were timely filed by The American 
Radio Relay League, Inc., (ARRL), Garry R. Shapiro (Shapiro), David B. 
Popkin (Popkin), and Richard F. Gillette (Gillette). Based on the Petitions 
for Reconsideration, we make several minor revisions to the rules as 
described more fully below.

II.  THE PETITIONS FOR RECONSIDERATION

   2.  The ARRL, in its petition, notes that the vanity call sign system 
would permit a licensee to apply for a call sign from any call area block, 
or a call sign dedicated to specific island and insular areas[2]. ARRL 
argues that it would be unfair for a licensee in one region to usurp a call 
sign in another region[3]. ARRL noted that this would be particularly 
harmful to persons living in Puerto Rico, Alaska, Hawaii, and certain 
possessions of the United States[4]. Shapiro is concerned that allowing 
applicants to obtain call signs without regard to region would result in 
listeners not being able to determine a station's location from the station 
identification announcement alone[5].

   3.  Popkin states that the rule should be revised to prohibit an 
applicant from obtaining a call sign for a higher operator class simply 
because the call sign was once held by a relative now deceased. He argues 
that such a revision is necessary so that a listener can determine from the 
call sign alone the operator class held by the station's licensee. He also 
requests that applications be dismissed when no requested call sign is 
assignable so as to avoid the possibility that the original call sign will 
be designated as a vanity call sign. He further requests that we adopt a 
provision for continuing operating authority beyond the license expiration 
date, if the renewal application for a station assigned a vanity call sign 
is timely filed. Additionally, he seeks clarification that applications for 
vanity call signs will be processed in the order in which they are 
received. Finally, Popkin seeks confirmation that call signs for which the 
previous holder is still eligible under the two-year renewal grace period 
will not be inadvertently assigned to another station. In this regard, he 
requests that there be a 90-day interval between the end of the renewal 
grace period and the time when the call sign becomes assignable under the 
vanity call sign system[6].

   4.  Gillette requests that a special starting gate be created for 
license trustees of established club stations to request the call sign of a 
deceased club member. The new gate would be inserted between starting Gates 
1 and 2. He states that allowing such clubs an advantage in obtaining the 
call sign of a deceased member would make it possible for the call sign of 
a former member to be associated with the club's history[7].

   5.  A petition for rule making, dated April 27, 1995, was filed by 
Richard C. Bean (Bean). In it, Bean asks that military recreation stations 
also be made eligible for vanity call signs. The proposed and final rules 
in this proceeding specifically excluded military recreation stations from 
such eligibility[8]. Therefore, Bean's petition for rule making is 
dismissed as repetitive[9]. Moreover, even if we were to construe Bean's 
filing to be a petition for reconsideration of our decision to exclude 
military recreation stations from eligibility for vanity call signs, it 
would be dismissed because it was not timely filed. Likewise, the late-
filed petitions for reconsideration of Jim Kassel and Jack W. Greenwood are 
dismissed.

III.  DISCUSSION

   6.  In the Report and Order we considered prohibiting applicants from 
requesting call signs that are assignable to stations outside the call sign 
region where the licensee resides. We decided, however, not to impose this 
limitation because it would restrict the applicant's choice of vanity call 
signs to ten percent or less of the call signs assignable to a particular 
station. We also noted that such a limitation could easily be circumvented 
by using a mailing address in another call sign region[10]. The ARRL, 
Shapiro, and Popkin argue that the vanity call sign system should be 
consistent with the sequential call sign system11 which selects call signs 
based on the applicant's operator class and region of mailing address.

   7.  Both the sequential system and the vanity system provide members of 
the amateur service community with the framework under which any operator 
can obtain a call sign corresponding to his or her class of operator 
license and region of mailing address[12]. However, unless the holder 
requests a change when upgrading to a higher operator class or when moving 
to a mailing address in a different region, the call sign is not changed. 
We still believe that it is unnecessary to impose a rigid correlation 
between the licensee's mailing address, license class, and call sign. 
Knowing the station's call sign, an interested party can refer to the 
Commission's licensee data base[13]to learn the licensee's mailing address 
and operator class. A listener, however, has no assurance that any call 
sign by itself accurately represents either the licensee's operator class 
or the region corresponding to the location of the station. The control 
operator may hold an operator license grant higher than that indicated by 
the call sign and the station may be transmitting from any region[14].

   8.  We decline, therefore, to impose a strict limitation on selecting 
vanity call signs according to the applicant's mailing address. We 
recognize, however, that the relatively small number of call signs 
designated for licensees with mailing addresses in Region 11 (Alaska), 
Region 12 (Caribbean Insular areas), and Region 13 (Hawaii and the Pacific 
Insular areas) could become quickly depleted by stations situated in 
Regions 1-10 (the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia)[15]. 
We agree that this would be unfair to licensees who reside in Regions 11, 
12, and 13. We will, therefore, modify the rules to limit the assignability 
of any call sign designed in the sequential call sign system for those 
three regions to licensees having mailing addresses in the specific state, 
commonwealth, or island corresponding to the call sign. Those licensees can 
also request call signs in Regions 1-10.

   9.  The current vanity call sign system allows a licensee to request a 
call sign corresponding to the same operator class currently held, or to a 
lower class. The rules, however, permit a close relative to request the 
former call sign of a deceased licensee regardless of operator class. Upon 
reconsideration, we are persuaded that this latter provision could result 
in unfair assignments. For example, a Novice Class operator could obtain a 
Group A call sign simply because a now-deceased relative once passed the 
rigorous examination for an Amateur Extra Class operator license[16]. For 
this reason, we conclude that the close relative exception should be 
limited to persons who hold the requisite or higher class of operator 
license. The lower class licensee, however, is not without recourse. 
Section 97.19(c)(3) of the Commission's Rules, 47 C.F.R. S 97.19(c)(3), 
provides a two-year period following a licensee's death during which the 
call sign is available only to close relatives. This allows a reasonable 
period for the relative to pass the examinations for the requisite class of 
license.

  10.  In the Report and Order, we found that priority should be given to 
applicants based on the order in which the applications for vanity call 
signs are received. For this reason, we established a series of four 
starting gates. Gate One allows a previous holder or, where the holder is 
deceased, a close relative to apply for that call sign. Gate Two allows 
Amateur Extra Class operators to apply for any assignable call sign. Gate 
Three allows Advanced Class operators to apply for a call sign applicable 
to that class, or a lower class, of license. Gate Four opens the system to 
any licensee. Upon reconsideration, we find that priority should also be 
given to established clubs obtaining the call signs of deceased members. We 
will, therefore, issue a public announcement detailing a fifth starting 
gate. This new gate will follow Gate 1 and will be designated as Gate 1A. 
Thus, before the call sign of a deceased licensee will be made available to 
the vanity call sign system generally (Gates 2, 3 and 4), a close relative 
of the deceased licensee will be able to request the call sign under Gate 
1. If it is unclaimed, then the club to which the deceased licensee 
belonged will be able to request it under Gate 1A. For Gate 1A, we will 
require a club station to have been licensed at the time that the Report 
and Order became effective, i.e., on March 24, 1995. This is necessary to 
prevent newly licensed club stations from using Gate 1A solely to gain the 
unfair advantage of early access to the vanity call sign system. A club 
station licensed after March 24, 1995, will become eligible to apply 
immediately under Gate 4 for the call sign of a deceased club member 
without being required to comply with the normal two year waiting period.

  11.  Current procedures ensure that applications are processed in the 
order in which they are received. Therefore, we do not believe that it is 
necessary to adopt a formal rule stating this requirement. All application 
forms are stamped with the receipt date at the contractor's facility. 
Periodically, batches of such forms are forwarded to our processing 
facility. The applications are then distributed to the processor's work 
station in accordance with the contractor's receipt date. Those with 
earlier receipt dates are processed before those with later receipt dates.

  12.  We also conclude that it is unnecessary to extend the two-year 
period during which a call sign, associated with an expired license, is 
unavailable to the vanity call sign system. Our licensing procedures 
provide that, even if a renewal application is received on the last day of 
the grace period, no other conflicting application, such as a request for a 
vanity call sign, would be processed until the renewal application has been 
acted upon.

  13.  We also decline to adopt a rule requiring that an application be 
dismissed if the call signs requested are not available. Section 
97.19(d)(2) of the Commission's Rules, 47 C.F.R. S 97.19(d)(2), specifies 
that, when none of the call signs requested are assignable, the call sign 
vacated by the applicant will be shown on the license grant. When the grant 
has been made, the application is no longer regarded as pending. At that 
point, there would be no application to dismiss. With respect to the 
suggestion that the rules be amended to state that when a timely-filed 
renewal application is pending for a station having a vanity call sign, 
there should be continuing operating authority, we agree. This is how all 
other amateur station licenses are treated. See Section 97.21(a)(3)(i) of 
the Commission's Rules, 47 C.F.R S 97.21(a)(3)(i). Thus, we will amend 
Section 97.21(a)(3)(ii) of the Commission's Rules, 47 C.F.R S 
97.21(a)(3)(ii) to reflect this change.

IV.  CONCLUSION

  14.  For the foregoing reasons, we decline to limit vanity call signs to 
those available in the applicant's call sign region within the 48 
contiguous United States. We are limiting, however, the assignability of 
call signs designated for Regions 11, 12, and 13 solely to licensees having 
a mailing address in the specific state, commonwealth, or island of those 
regions. This limitation does not apply to former call sign holders or to 
close relatives of deceased call sign holders. We also amend our rules to 
require that , in the case of a close relative applying for the former call 
sign of a deceased licensee, the applicant must hold the requisite class of 
operator license.

  15.  Additionally, we are amending the rules to specify that applicants 
who timely file applications for renewal of a station license having a 
vanity call sign will have continuing operating authority. We are also 
allowing clubs to obtain the call sign of a deceased member, with an 
additional starting gate giving priority to clubs existing on March 24, 
1995. Finally, we have included an editorial change pertaining to the 
correct numbering and wording of Section 97.17(g), 47 C.F.R S 97.17(g).

V.  ORDERING CLAUSES

  16.  For the reasons given herein, and pursuant to the authority 
contained in 47 U.S.C SS 154(i), and 303(o) and (r), IT IS ORDERED that 
Part 97 of the Commission's Rules, 47 C.F.R Part 97, IS AMENDED, effective 
November 17, 1995, as set forth in the Appendix.

  17.  The petitions for reconsideration of The American Radio Relay 
League, Inc., Garry Shapiro, and David B. Popkin ARE GRANTED IN PART. The 
petition for reconsideration of Richard F. Gillette IS GRANTED in its 
entirety.

  18.  The Petition for Rule Making filed by Richard C. Bean IS DISMISSED 
as repetitive, pursuant to Section 1.401(e) of the Commission's Rules, 47 
C.F.R. S 1.401(e).

  19.  The late-filed Petitions for Reconsideration of Jim Kassel and Jack 
W. Greenwood ARE DISMISSED, pursuant to Section 1.429(d) of the 
Commission's Rules, 47 C.F.R. S 1.429(d).

  20.  IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that this proceeding IS TERMINATED.

FEDERAL COMMISSIONS COMMISSION

William F. Caton
Acting Secretary


                              APPENDIX

     Part 97 of Chapter I of Title 47 of the Code of Federal Regulations is 
amended as follows:

     Part 97 - Amateur Radio Service

   1.  The authority citation for Part 97 continues to read as follows:

     Authority citation: 48 Stat. 1066, 1082, as amended; 47 U.S.C. SS154, 
303. Interpret or apply 48 Stat. 1064-1068, 1081-1105, as amended; 47 
U.S.C. SS 151-155, 301-609, unless otherwise noted.

   2.  Section 97.17 is amended by removing paragraph (g) and by 
redesignating paragraph (h) as paragraph (g).

   3.  Section 97.19 is amended by revising paragraph (d) introductory text 
and adding new paragraph (d)(4) to read as follows:

S 97.19 Application for a vanity call sign.

*	*	*	*	*	*	*
	(d) The vanity call sign requested by an applicant must be selected 
from the group of call signs corresponding to the same or lower class of 
operator license held by the applicant as designed in the sequential call 
sign system.

*	*	*	*	*	*	*

	(4) A call sign designated under the sequential call sign system for 
Alaska, Hawaii, Caribbean Insular Areas, and Pacific Insular areas will be 
assigned only to a primary or club station whose licensee's mailing address 
is in the corresponding state, commonwealth, or island. This limitation 
does not apply to an applicant for the call sign as the spouse, child, 
grandchild, stepchild, parent, grandparent, stepparent, brother, sister, 
stepbrother, stepsister, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, or in-law, of the 
former holder now deceased.

	4. Section 97.21(a)(3)(ii) is revised to read as follows:

S 97.21 Application for a modified or renewed license.

		(a)******

	(3)****

		(ii) When the license shows a call sign selected by the vanity 
call sign system, the application must be filed as specified in Section 
97.19(b). When the application has been received at the proper address 
specified in the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau Fee Filing Guide prior 
to the license expiration date, the license operating authority is 
continued until final disposition of the application.

*	*	*	*	*	*	*


Footnotes

1. 10 FCC Rcd 1039 (1995).

2. See Amateur Station Sequential Call Sign System, Fact Sheet PR-5000 #206 
dated February, 1995, and Amateur Station Vanity Call Sign System, Public 
Notice 52540 dated March 3, 1995. See also ARRL Petition for Partial 
Reconsideration at 2.

3. Petition for Partial Reconsideration of ARRL at 3.

4. ibid. At 4.

5. Petition for Reconsideration filed by Shapiro.

6. Petition for Reconsideration filed by Popkin.

7. Petition for Reconsideration filed by Gillette.

8. The proposed rule was 97.19(e). The final rule appears in 47 C.F.R. S 
97.19(a).

9. See Section 1.401(e) of the Commission's Rules, 47 C.F.R. S 1.401(e).

10. Order, paragraph 10.

11. The sequential call sign system sequentially selects a new call sign 
from alphabetized regional-group listings for the licensee's operator class 
and mailing address.

12. The Commission regulates the amateur service in thirteen regions. See 
Appendices 1 and 2, Part 97 of the Commission's Rules, 47 C.F.R. SS 97.1-
97.527. These regions evolved from the U.S. Naval Districts as they existed 
early in this century and, as demonstrated in this proceeding, are 
continued in response to the desires of the amateur service community.

13. The amateur service licensee data base is accessible via the Internet. 
It is also available from various suppliers.

14. See Section 97.5(d), 47 C.F.R. 97.5(d). A person who has been granted 
an amateur station license is authorized to use transmitting apparatus 
anywhere the amateur service is regulated by the Commission.

15. For example, in Region 1 (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New 
Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont) the Group A block consists of 11,076 
call signs. For Guam, in Region 13, the Group A block consists of only 104 
call signs. As of January 31, 1995, there were 2,762 Amateur Extra Class 
Licensees in Region 1 and 55 Amateur Extra Class Licensees on Guam.

16. Under the sequential call sign system, Group A call signs are assigned 
only to the station of those holding the highest class of operator license, 
Amateur Extra. The Novice is an entry level class of license having minimal 
examination requirements.

cAVe Back to the cAVe Home Page Updated February 15, 1996 n6fri