Questions and Answers — Amateur Radio

Streamlining the Authorization Process for the Amateur Radio Service

1.0 Certificates

1.1 Will a radio amateur who currently holds a radio licence with a call sign be issued an Amateur Radio Operator Certificate indicating the same call sign?

Yes, for existing amateur radio licence holders, the department is considering issuing an Amateur Radio Operator Certificate which indicates the same call sign as the radio licence. A similar process would be required where an individual holds more than one call sign. In this case, one call sign would be noted on the certificate and the remaining call sign(s) would be listed as a "registration" in the new database. The amateur will need to return a "request-for-information" card to advise the department which call sign is to be included on the certificate. The department will then provide a call sign registration document to the radio amateur.

1.2 Will the Amateur Radio Operator Certificate, which lists the call sign in addition to the Qualifications held by the operator, have a legal status?

This proposal does not change the legal status of the Amateur Radio Operator Certificate. The Amateur Radio Operator Certificate is defined in Part IV of the Radiocommunication Regulations and we are not proposing any changes to this part of the regulations. We will simply add the call sign to the certificate document. An operator's qualifications, such as, Basic, Advanced and Morse Code (5 w.p.m. and 12 w.p.m.) displayed on the operator's certificate, will continue to determine the operational and technical limitations of the operator.

1.3 How will you track the call sign, qualification level and mailing address information of an amateur, and will this information be made available to the public?

Industry Canada intends to develop a new "Certificate & Call Sign" database that will link the call sign, the operator's qualifications and mailing address together. The department proposes that amateurs be required to notify the department of changes to their mailing address. Portions of this database will be made available to the public. This will allow amateurs to obtain information regarding assigned call signs, operator qualifications and mailing addresses. Information that cannot be released due to restrictions under the Privacy Act, such as telephone numbers and date of birth, will not be released to the public.

1.4 Will the certificates be suitable for framing or will they be the same as the existing wallet-size certificates?

Industry Canada intends to continue issuing a wallet-size certificate to all radio amateurs. However, many radio amateurs have indicated that they would also like to obtain a larger certificate that is suitable for framing. We are currently investigating the cost associated with the printing and mailing of such certificates.

2.0 Call Signs

2.1 Do I get a different call sign with each certificate Qualification?

No. Your call sign will remain the same. A new certificate will be issued that will reflect the additional qualification(s). No fee will be charged for the certificate.

2.2 Will I be able to request a call sign prefix that is not applicable to my area?

No, call sign prefixes will continue to be issued from blocks according to Schedule IV of Regulation by Reference (RBR-4) based on the address of the applicant.

2.3 May I bequeath my call sign to my family or friends?

No. However, in the case of a deceased amateur, members of the immediate family would have the opportunity to apply for the call sign over a twelve month period.

2.4 Will I be able to change my call sign at a future date if I find one I like better, or if one becomes available that was not previously available?

Yes, however, the department is proposing to charge a $60 fee for such requests.

2.5 How will requests for special event or special prefix call signs be dealt with?

The department's proposal will not affect the current assignment policies associated with special amateur call signs, including two-letter suffixes and two-letter prefixes. However, the department is proposing to charge a $60 fee for processing these special requests.

2.6 How will call signs become available for re-assignment?

Call signs will be assigned to an individual for a life-time, however there will be cases when call signs will become available for re-assignment. In the case of an amateur requesting a replacement call sign, the unwanted call sign would be returned to the block of available call signs at the time of exchange.

In the case of a deceased person, our current policy allows the immediate family to apply for the call sign. This will continue. In the case of non-family members, they may not apply for the call sign of a deceased person until a reasonable amount of time, such as a year, has elapsed. They can then apply for the call sign, but only upon presentation of proof of passing, such as an obituary notice.

Ultimately, all call signs become available for re-assignment when the current year equals the certificate holder's birth date plus 125 years.

2.7 Will you consider issuing a call sign prefix that will identify the qualification level of the certificate holder?

No. The department intends to make the certificate Qualification(s) and call sign database available to the public. This will allow the radio amateur community to access the database to verify the certificate holder's qualification level.

2.8 Will this proposal allow accredited examiners to issue call signs?

Although this proposal does not include such a plan, the department may consider this option at a future date.

2.9 Will we run out of call signs?

No, there are sufficient call sign blocks available for assignment.

3.0 Regulatory

3.1 How will this proposal affect current regulations?

The regulations concerning the operation of radio apparatus in the amateur radio service would be maintained. However, the current limitation on the number of stations that an amateur may operate using a particular call sign, which is currently three stations will be removed. As a result, an individual would be able to operate any number of stations under an amateur radio call sign.

3.2 Will this proposal lead to less involvement in regulation?

The implementation of the proposal will not impact on the department's ability to regulate and manage the spectrum. The department will continue with its regulatory duties concerning both domestic and international activities.

3.3 With the elimination of the radio licence, will the department still be able to place restrictions on amateur radio operations that cause harmful interference to other services (e.g. restrictions on the hours of operation or frequency bands)?

Yes. The department will still be able to place restrictions on amateur radio operations. The Minister's powers include fixing the terms and conditions, as well as suspending or revoking an Amateur Radio Operator Certificate. Additionally, under paragraph 5(1)(l) of the Radiocommunication Act, the Minister may:

"make determinations as to the existence of harmful interference and issue orders to persons in possession or control of radio apparatus, interference-causing equipment or radio-sensitive equipment that the Minister determines to be responsible for the harmful interference to cease or modify operation of the apparatus or equipment until such time as it can be operated without causing or being affected by harmful interference".

Where warranted, these powers will continue to be exercised.

3.4 I thought that my amateur radio station licence gave me authority to install antennas and supporting structures for antennas. Will this proposal affect this?

No. The responsibilities of the amateur radio operator do not change. The roles and responsibilities of all parties concerning this matter are described in Client Procedures Circular 2-0-03 (CPC-2-0-03), Environmental Process, Radiofrequency Fields and Land-Use Consultation. Amateur radio stations are considered "non-site-specific stations".

3.5 Will this proposal impact on international operating permits (CEPT and IARP)?

No. However, should an agreement need to be revised as a result of this proposal, to ensure that reciprocal and bilateral agreements are maintained, we will do so. Currently, requests for these permits are processed by the Radio Amateurs of Canada (RAC). RAC requests only the applicant's name, address, call sign and a copy of the Amateur Radio Operator Certificate. The radio licence number, company code or any other licensing information is not required in order to apply for and obtain the international operating permits.

3.6 If a licence is not issued, how can you ensure that the mailing address of amateurs will remain current?

Requirements regarding operation in the amateur radio service are contained in Regulation by Reference RPR-4, Standards for the Operation of Radio Stations in the Amateur Radio Service. Section 45 of the Radiocommunication Regulations will be amended to include the provision that only those amateurs operating their stations in accordance with RPR-4 are exempt from the requirement to hold a radio licence. This standards document will be amended to include the requirement that amateurs operating a radio station must notify the department of their change of mailing address within a specified time period (likely six months). Failure to notify the department of a change of mailing address within the permitted time period would result in the amateur radio operator being in contravention of subsection 4(1) the Radiocommunication Act.

It is generally recognized by amateurs that an up-to-date mailing list of all active amateur radio operators is beneficial to individual operators and the amateur community as a whole. Therefore, the department does not anticipate a compliance problem in this regard.

4.0 Miscellaneous

4.1 What impact will this proposal have on the international regulatory status of Canadian Amateur Radio Operators?

Canada is a signatory of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and has in the past followed the spectrum plan set out by this organization. Signatory administrations agree to abide by the Radio Regulations as enacted by the Union and such regulations are considered to have treaty status. It is a requirement of the ITU Radio Regulations that administrations take such measures as they judge necessary to verify the operational and technical qualifications of any person wishing to operate the apparatus of an amateur station. However, these regulations do no prescribe what form such an authorization(s) may take.

In this regard many administrations currently issue a single authority to amateurs which includes both operator qualifications and a call sign. These authorizations are referred to in different terms such as permits, certificates and licences. There is, however, no particular legal significance to the term administrations choose to use for their authorization document(s).

The new amateur certificate issued by Industry Canada will clearly indicate that the holder has a certain level of qualification and is authorized to operate in the amateur radio service using a specified call sign(s). This amalgamation of authorities does not constitute a change of status in respect to an amateur's operating privileges, but rather is simply an administrative simplification of the authorization process. We do not anticipate that other administrations will have any difficulty with this streamlined authorization process.

4.2 Without a licence, how will you know where the station is located?

The Department proposes that radio amateurs be required to notify the department of changes to their mailing address. In addition, the department is examining options for direct amendment of address information via the Internet.

The address information on the radio licence does not necessarily reflect the location of an amateur radio station, since under the authority of a radio licence, amateurs are currently permitted to have three different radio installations. The department has the investigative tools available today to locate sources of radio emissions and these same tools will be in place. The department's ability to locate and take corrective action will not change.

4.3 Will we lose our voice and influence as a result of not paying licence fees?

This proposal will not affect the process that is currently used to establish or amend the regulations that pertain to the amateur radio service. The main purpose of this proposal is to manage the administration of the amateur radio service in a more efficient and cost effective manner. The amateur community will continue to be part of the regulatory process and the department will continue to manage the radio spectrum in a manner that takes the concerns and recommendations of the amateur community into account.

4.4 Today we notice differences across Canada concerning the administration of the amateur licence. Will this proposal have any effect on this?

The move to manage smarter, encompassed in this proposal, will streamline the administrative process and eliminate the minor inconsistencies which may now exist.

4.5 Will the amateur bands now be taken over by commercial industry?

No. The department will continue to manage the radio frequency spectrum in a manner that benefits all radio spectrum users.

4.6 When do you hope to have this proposal implemented?

It is our desire to see this proposal implemented by April 1, 2000.

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