Archived — Notice No. DGRB-004-99 - Discussion Paper: Proposal to Streamline the Authorization Process for the Amateur Radio Service

Radiocommunication Act

Proposal to streamline the authorization process for the amateur radio service

The objective of this proposal is to streamline the authorization process by removing the requirement to hold a radio licence thereby making the Amateur Radio Operator Certificate the sole authorization document. It is also the objective of this proposal to maintain the regulations regarding the operation of radio apparatus in the amateur radio service and the operating privileges which amateurs enjoy.

This Notice announces a proposal to modify the administration of the amateur radio service by streamlining the authorization process. Under this new proposal, the authorization and control of radio apparatus in the amateur radio service would continue to be achieved through the issuance of an Amateur Radio Operator Certificate and Radiocommunication Information Circular 2 (RIC-2), Standards for the Operation of Radio Stations in the Amateur Radio Service. A radio licence, however would no longer be required.

The details of the proposal are contained in the discussion paper entitled Streamlining the Authorization Process for the Amateur Radio Service which is available at Industry Canada's Internet site, http://www.ic.gc.ca/spectrum. A hard copy is available, for a fee, from:

Industry Canada invites comments, preferably in electronic format, from all interest parties. Submissions should be addressed to the Chief, Authorization, Operational Policies, Procedures and Programs, at the following Internet address: dospaa@ic.gc.ca.

To ensure there is time to consider all comments, submissions should be received within 60 days of the date of publication of this Notice. All submissions must cite the Canada Gazette Part 1 Notice publication date, title and the Notice reference number. Submissions can also be submitted to the Chief by mail at 300 Slater Street, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0C8.

All submissions received in response to this Notice will be made available for viewing on Industry Canada's web site noted below.

World Wide Web (WWW)
http://www.ic.gc.ca/spectrum

The responses will also be made available for viewing by the public, during normal business hours, at the Industry Canada Library, 235 Queen Street, West Tower, 3rd Floor, Ottawa, Ontario, and at the offices of Industry Canada in Moncton, Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg and Vancouver, for a period of one year from the close of comments.

Jan Skora
Director General
Radiocommunication and Broadcasting Regulatory Branch

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Background
  3. Proposed Changes
  4. Impact of the Proposal
  5. Certificate Appearance
  6. Enforcement and Interference
  7. Regulatory Amendment
  8. Delegated Examiners
  9. Additional Information
  10. Invitation To Comment

Notice No. DGRB-004-99 - Discussion Paper: Proposal to Streamline the Authorization Process for the Amateur Radio Service
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1. Introduction

This discussion paper is the second phase of consultation regarding a proposal to improve the process of authorizing applicants to operate in the amateur radio service. In the first consultation phase, Industry Canada released a document entitled Project to Improve the Authorization of the Amateur Radio Service. To explain that first document, officials from the department met with radio amateur groups across Canada to discuss the initial proposal. The meetings that have taken place to date, along with written comments that have been received, have assisted the department in the formulation of a more detailed proposal, which is presented in this discussion paper. By means of this discussion paper, Industry Canada is seeking public comment which will assist in the development of an improved approach to authorize radio amateurs to operate in the amateur radio service.

As part of a government wide review, Industry Canada has analyzed its spectrum management activities to verify that the most efficient and effective processes are utilized to achieve its mandate. As a result, Industry Canada believes that a reduction of radio licensing requirements would be beneficial to three radiocommunication user groups; operators in the amateur radio service, mobile stations in the aeronautical service and mobile stations in the maritime service. The scope of this paper is limited to the amateur radio service.

For the amateur radio service, the current authorization process consists of issuing both an Amateur Radio Operator Certificate and a radio licence to successful applicants. The radio licence for a station in the amateur radio service and the Amateur Radio Operator Certificate are both radio authorizations which are issued by the Minister under section 5(1) of the Radiocommunication Act. Industry Canada is proposing to streamline the authorization process by making the Amateur Radio Operator Certificate the sole authorization document and thereby eliminating the need for the radio licence. Industry Canada would continue to regulate the amateur radio service. In the Radiocommunication Regulations, the reference to Operation in the Amateur Radio Service (sections 42 to 49) would require only minor modifications to reflect the emphasis being placed on Amateur Radio Operator Certification rather than on radio licensing. This allows Industry Canada to achieve its goal of reducing the number of yearly transactional activities related to issuing and renewing radio licences while continuing to provide the highest level of service in support of its spectrum management programs.

Radio amateurs stand to gain several benefits as a result of this proposal. They will no longer be required to pay a licence issuance fee and the $24 annual renewal fee. This will allow radio amateurs to retain a call sign for a lifetime without having to pay an ongoing annual fee. This will be of particular benefit to amateurs who may be inactive for a period of time but still wish to retain their call sign. This proposal also includes a provision to allow amateur clubs to register call signs in the name of the club rather than in a sponsor's name. In addition, the department intends to link call sign information with operator qualifications and make that information available to amateurs.

2. Background

In the Radiocommunication Regulations, "amateur radio service" means a radiocommunication service in which radio apparatus are used for the purpose of self-training, intercommunication or technical investigation by individuals who are interested in radio technique solely with a personal aim and without pecuniary interest.

Generally, radio apparatus in most services, apart from the amateur radio service, must meet technical specifications and be preset to operate on a specific frequency or set of frequencies. However, as the amateur radio service promotes the exploration and experimentation of radiocommunication techniques, it is not subject to radio standards specifications and equipment certification. In fact, radio amateurs holding the Advanced Qualification are permitted to experiment by building their own transmitter and radio frequency amplifier. The amateur radio service also differs from most other services that the department regulates, in that the emphasis is placed on the operator's qualifications rather than on radio standards specifications and equipment certification. These operator qualifications are determined through examination and validated through certification.

For the amateur radio service, both the privileges and restrictions applicable to the operation of radio apparatus are set out in the Radiocommunication Act, the Radiocommunication Regulations, and Radiocommunication Information Circular 2 (RIC-2), Standards for the Operation of Radio Stations in the Amateur Radio Service. The operating privileges such as the frequency bands within which a radio amateur may operate are based upon Amateur Radio Operator Certification Qualification(s), such as Basic, Advanced, and Morse Code.

Currently, to operate radio apparatus in the amateur radio service, a radio licence is required under the provisions of the Radiocommunication Act and the licence is subject to annual renewal. Eligibility to hold a radio licence for a radio station in the amateur radio service is restricted to individuals who hold at least an Amateur Radio Operator Certificate with the Basic Qualification or hold a professional operator certificate as defined in the Radiocommunication Regulations.

Confirming the certification of the applicant is virtually the only scrutiny required before a radio licence for a station in the amateur radio service is issued. Given that the assignment and renewal of a radio licence to a qualified (certified) applicant is virtually automatic, Industry Canada believes there is an opportunity to streamline the process bringing a greater convenience to radio amateurs and a reduction in the administrative burden to all.

3. Proposed Changes

In keeping with Industry Canada's goal of improving the effectiveness and efficiency of its spectrum management programs, the following changes are being proposed for the amateur radio service:

  • make the Amateur Radio Operator Certificate the sole authorization document;
  • eliminate the radio licence thereby eliminating the licence issuance fee, the short term fee and the $24 annual renewal fee;
  • modify the operator certificate to include the operator's assigned call sign; and
  • charge a fee for user initiated transactions (see subsection 4.1 for details).

4. Impact of the Proposal

The objective of this proposal is to streamline the authorization process by removing the requirement to hold a radio licence thereby making the Amateur Radio Operator Certificate the sole authorization document. It is also the objective of this proposal to maintain the regulations regarding the operation of radio apparatus in the amateur radio service and the operating privileges which amateurs enjoy.

This proposal will not change the eligibility requirements to operate in the amateur radio service. Only persons who hold an appropriate Amateur Radio Operator Certificate will be permitted to operate radio apparatus in the amateur radio service. However, there is currently a provision that permits the operation of an amateur radio station under the supervision and in the presence of an individual who is authorized (certified) to operate in the amateur radio service. It is recommended that this provision continue.

It is the department's view that the character of the amateur radio service should be maintained. As the regulator, the department, therefore, intends to preserve the integrity of the current regulations concerning the operation of all radio apparatus in the amateur radio service. Radio apparatus will continue to be subject to the applicable regulations and a person who operates radio apparatus in the amateur radio service will still be required to comply with the Radiocommunication Regulations and the technical requirements specified in RIC-2.

Under this proposal, call signs will continue to be issued in accordance with current call sign policy, however, the call sign will be associated with the Amateur Radio Operator Certificate rather than the radio licence. This approach more easily lends itself to making available to the public lists of call sign holders and their respective amateur radio operator qualifications. It is recognized by the department that the amateur community would find such information useful particularly with respect to identifying which frequency bands an individual operator is permitted to use.

4.1 Fees

This proposal will eliminate the licence fee that is currently charged for the issuance of an amateur radio licence. This means that the initial issuance fee and the annual licence renewal fee of $24 would no longer be collected. However, the department is proposing to charge a fee of $60.00 for user initiated transactions related to call signs. We arrived at this one-time fee by estimating the cost of producing a notification of call sign registration and the ongoing maintenance of the database as it relates to entries for which a fee is collected.

We propose that this fee be charged for the following:

  • to change an existing call sign (including changing to a two-letter call sign);
  • to issue a call sign to a club or other organization;
  • to issue an additional call sign to an individual; and
  • to issue a special event call sign or a special prefix.

A fee would not be charged for the following:

  • to issue the initial call sign with the Amateur Radio Operator Certificate with the Basic Qualification;
  • to issue a replacement certificate due to loss or damage;
  • to issue a replacement call sign with a new prefix, due to a change in address to a new province or territory; and
  • to issue a certificate as a result of an additional Qualification such as 5 w.p.m., 12 w.p.m. or Advanced.

4.2 Call Signs

In accordance with the International Telecommunication Union's (ITU) Radio Regulations, transmissions in the amateur radio service are to carry identification signals (call signs). The ITU regulations state, in part, that all amateur stations shall have call signs from the international series allocated to each country. Currently, in Canada, the call sign assigned to an amateur radio operator's station is printed on the radio licence. The department is proposing to eliminate the licence document and merge the call sign with the Amateur Radio Operator Certificate. This means that a radio amateur will only require an Amateur Radio Operator Certificate to operate on the amateur radio frequency bands as the certificate includes the assigned call sign.

4.2.1 Integration of Call Signs With Certificates

Currently, there are approximately 46 000 licensed radio amateurs and approximately 49 000 assigned call signs. Therefore, the vast majority of radio amateurs hold only one call sign. It is expected that for these amateurs, the one call sign will simply be transferred from the radio licence to the Amateur Radio Operator Certificate.

During implementation, a radio amateur who currently holds more than one call sign will be required to indicate which call sign should appear on the certificate. The remaining call sign(s) will be grandfathered to the individual and listed as a "registration" in the database. It is proposed that no fee will be charged for the grandfathering of existing call signs.

It is also proposed that holders of Amateur Radio Operator Certificates and certain professional radio operator certificates who do not currently hold a radio licence and who have not been assigned a call sign will be able to make an application for a call sign at their convenience. No fee would be charged for this service.

4.2.2 Call Signs for Clubs and Other Organizations

The department proposes to issue call signs to clubs, associations, or other organizations by means of a call sign registration process. A fee ($60.00) is proposed for the registration of such calls. The existing requirements to have an amateur radio operator with the Advanced Qualification be responsible for the installation of the radio equipment will be maintained.

Clubs or other organizations which currently hold a call sign(s) under a sponsor's licence, will have their call sign(s) grandfathered and listed as a "registration" in the database. No fee is being proposed for the grandfathering of existing call signs.

4.2.3 Maintenance of Call Sign and Qualification Level Data

The department currently makes name, address, and call sign information available to the public, but does not have an easy method for providing the corresponding operator qualifications. The operator qualifications are currently held in a separate database from the licensing and call sign database.

The operator certificate database will be matched with the licensing database to associate the call sign with the operator qualification. The department will make specific portions of this new database available to the amateur community.

4.2.4 Issuance of Call Signs

The department is proposing that a call sign be issued in conjunction with the issuance of the Amateur Radio Operator Certificate with the Basic Qualification. The assignment of a call sign would follow our current process of providing the candidate with the opportunity to select three call signs. If the call signs selected are not available, the system will automatically assign one from a database of available call signs. The department would not charge a fee for the issuance of the first call sign.

Currently the holder of a radio licence in the amateur radio service may install or operate, under the authority of the radio licence, radio apparatus located at:

  1. one station as indicated on the radio licence;
  2. one station other than as indicated on the radio licence; and
  3. one mobile station.

It is proposed that these limitations be removed. Amateurs will then be permitted to install any number of amateur radio stations and will no longer need to request an additional call sign for an additional station. However, if an amateur wishes to obtain an additional call sign for use at a particular station, the department proposes to allow the issuance of additional call signs by means of a call sign registration process. It is further proposed that a fee ($60.00) will be charged for these requests.

4.2.5 Multiple Locations

Currently, radio amateurs, under the authority of their radio licence, may use their call sign to identify themselves at one of three locations. In the case of packet radio operations, amateurs frequently use a system of call sign extensions to identify their stations. Under this proposal, one call sign would cover all the stations operated by the qualified certificate holder and Industry Canada would continue to allow the practice of using extensions to designate different station locations in a series of stations operated by the holder. Since the restriction of three stations under the current licensing regime would no longer be a part of the regulations, organizations and clubs may consider the use of one call sign in a system to meet identification requirements. They may adopt a method to designate the different stations in the system similar to packet networks and in this way eliminate the need for using multiple call signs.

However, if the radio amateur or club wishes to have a separate call sign issued for multiple locations, the department will allow the registration of additional call signs. A fee ($60.00) would be charged for the registration of each additional call sign.

4.2.6 Re-issuance of Call Signs

It is the department's view that the majority of radio amateurs are interested in keeping their particular call sign for an indefinite period of time. Under this proposal most call signs will be associated with a certificate. Currently, Amateur Radio Operator Certificates are valid for a lifetime and there is no requirement for re-validation or re-testing (however, the Minister still maintains the power to re-examine if necessary). Under this proposal, a radio amateur would be able to keep a call sign associated with a Certificate for a lifetime without having to pay ongoing annual renewal fees.

Call signs may be returned to the department's database and become available for re-issuance when:

  • a call sign is exchanged for another call sign;
  • an amateur radio club or other organization ceases to exist;
  • an amateur radio operator becomes deceased and evidence, such as a copy of an obituary notice or death certificate, is provided. Call signs returned in this manner will be made available for re-assignment after a period of twelve months. However, applications from immediate family members will be accepted within the twelve month period; and
  • when the current year equals the operator's birth date plus 125 years.
4.2.7 Call Sign Policy

It is not the objective of this initiative to propose changes to current call sign policy. Should the department and the amateur community want to propose changes to call sign policy, the department suggests that consultation be conducted separate to this proposal.

4.3 Address Information

The department proposes that address information of certified amateurs be maintained in the new combined certificate and call sign database. It further proposes that radio amateurs will be required to notify the department of a permanent change to their mailing address. No fees will be charged to radio amateurs for the updating of their mailing address records. In addition, the department is examining options for direct amendment of address information using an Internet application.

5. Certificate Appearance

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

6. Enforcement and Interference

Industry Canada would continue with its existing activities concerning the unauthorized use of radio spectrum and the control of devices with insufficient immunity in the radio environment. The department's investigative techniques would not change as a result of this initiative. It has investigative tools available today to locate sources of radio emissions and these same tools will be in place no matter what results from this proposal. The ability of the department to locate and take corrective action will not change.

7. Regulatory Amendment

A regulatory amendment is currently being developed. Comments submitted in response to this second phase of consultation will be considered in determining whether or not the department will proceed with implementation. If it is decided to proceed, the comments will be considered in the drafting of the procedural changes as well as the final text of the regulatory amendment.

8. Accredited Examiners

Industry Canada recognizes the contribution that accredited examiners make to amateur radio. Therefore, the department will continue to support the accredited examiner program.

The changes to the current administrative procedures, resulting from streamlining the authorization process for the amateur radio service, will not impact on accredited examiners. However, as a result of this initiative and other initiatives such as electronic commerce, the department would develop a more effective and efficient process (Internet application) to benefit both the accredited examiner and the amateur radio operator.

9. Additional Information

The department will periodically update the "Questions & Answers" regarding this initiative in response to comments and questions we receive from the amateur community. The "Questions & Answers" and the discussion slide presentation are posted on Industry Canada's Internet site, http://www.ic.gc.ca/spectrum.

10. Invitation to Comment

The department invites comments, preferably in electronic format, from all interested parties. Comments submitted in electronic format should be either in WordPerfect or Microsoft Word. (Please specify the software, the version number, and the operating system used in a covering note.)

Please address comments sent by

e-mail to: dospaa@ic.gc.ca

or in writing to:

Consultation on Streamlining the Authorization Process for the Amateur Radio Service
Radiocommunication and Broadcasting Regulatory Branch
Industry Canada
300 Slater Street
Room 1542B - Jean Edmonds Tower North
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0C8

In order to be considered, comments must be received within 60 days after the publication of this document in the Canada Gazette.

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