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:
1. On December 23, 1994, we adopted a Report and Orde(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. ARRL
argues that it would be unfair for a licensee in one region to usurp a call
sign in another region. ARRL noted that this would be particularly
harmful to persons living in Puerto Rico, Alaska, Hawaii, and certain
possessions of the United States. 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.
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.
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.
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. Therefore, Bean's petition for rule making is
dismissed as repetitive. 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
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. 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. 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 baseto 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.
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).
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. 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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
* * * * * * *
(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.
(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.
* * * * * * *
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
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