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Amateurs on the radio and online tell us we MUST ID at the start of our transmissions.

A couple of hams on 75m sometimes take me to task for not saying my callsign right away.

'The FCC says so'.

Is that true or not?

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    $\begingroup$ The rules for signing every 10 minutes and then at the end has more to do with long QSOs than shorter brief contacts. For example, AM guys will talk and talk and talk forever and give their call sign frequently so others know his call. Or, traffic net stations where the net control is busy doing a roll call and usually interrupting at 10 minute intervals to give his own call sign. In most other circumstances it is common to give you call sign at the beginning when you contact someone and also if you have a round table in progress when someone else joins. $\endgroup$ – K7PEH Aug 21 '17 at 4:29
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    $\begingroup$ @SDsolar A question about what the exact legal requirements are, as compared or contrasted with actual practice, is a really good question. $\endgroup$ – Kevin Reid AG6YO Aug 30 '17 at 1:42
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    $\begingroup$ @SDsolar "I was taught to do it at the beginning ..." So was I! And then the FCC rule changed, decades ago. $\endgroup$ – Mike Waters Aug 30 '17 at 1:42
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    $\begingroup$ Ditto. I note that the FCC even mentions that it is common enough practice so as not to require a rule change. Let me add that this excellent question answered something that has bothered me for years. Contesting. Transmitting partial callsigns to get the attention of good DX. All this time I had thought that was a violation. I appreciate you posting this question so it can be clarified and added to this database as a reference question. TNX es 73 $\endgroup$ – SDsolar Aug 31 '17 at 1:19
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That hasn't been the law for many years.

From §97.119:

(a) Each amateur station, except a space station or telecommand station, must transmit its assigned call sign on its transmitting channel at the end of each communication, and at least every 10 minutes during a communication ...

Therefore, it is perfectly legal to wait until we have talked for ten minutes before we ID.

(Of course, nothing says that we can't ID at the start of our transmission.)

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  • $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$ – Mike Waters Aug 31 '17 at 11:37
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The rules are very clear on this point.

Sec. 97.119 Station identification

(a) Each amateur station, except a space station or telecommand station, must transmit its assigned call sign on its transmitting channel at the end of each communication, and at least every 10 minutes during a communication, for the purpose of clearly making the source of the transmissions from the station known to those receiving the transmissions. No station may transmit unidentified communications or signals, or transmit as the station call sign, any call sign not authorized to the station.

This wording was reviewed as a formal petition in 2006-7.

Changes in Part 97 With Regard to Amateur Radio Service Rules, 97.119(a) Station Identification and Proposed Changes in 47 CFR Part 97 Section 97.119, Amendment of Part 97 of the Commission's Rules, et al

HERE IS THE TEXT OF THE LATEST RULEMAKING ACTION ON THIS SUBJECT, POSTED JULY 9, 2007:

DISCUSSION

Station identification interval

Background.

Section 97.119(a) of the Commission’s Rules provides that an amateur station “must transmit its assigned call sign on its transmitting channel at the end of each communication, and at least every 10 minutes during a communication, for the purpose of clearly making the source of the transmissions from the station known to those receiving the transmissions.”

We have received two proposals to amend this provision. On December 9, 2005, Murray Green filed a petition for rulemaking, RM-11346, requesting that the Commission amend Section 97.119(a) to reduce the required frequency of station identification to every thirty minutes during a communication, rather than once every ten minutes. On May 19, 2006, Glen E. Zook filed a petition for rulemaking, RM-11347, requesting that the Commission amend Section 97.119(a) to require that the call sign be transmitted at the beginning and end of each single transmission, and at the beginning and end of a series of transmissions between stations having established communications when each transmission is less than three minutes in duration.

Green argues that the station identification requirement should be relaxed because the current requirement “appears, perhaps out of an abundance of caution, to have resulted in more frequent or over-identification by Amateur Radio operators,” and requiring identification less frequently "would harmonize the Amateur Radio Service station identification requirement with that of other radio services and should not hinder the Commission’s enforcement of Amateur Radio regulations."

Zook, on the other hand, argues that the station identification requirement should be tightened because “too many amateur radio operators . . . do not identify during their first transmission. In fact, a considerable number of these operators never seem to get around to identifying even after 10 minutes of operation and a ‘fair’ number never seem to get around to giving their call sign at all.”

Each petition received approximately one hundred comments. The commenters generally oppose both petitions.

Decision.

Based on our review of the record, we are not persuaded that the requested rule changes are necessary or supported by the amateur radio community. The purpose of the station identification rule is "to clearly make the identity of the station transmitting known to those receiving the transmission."

To achieve this purpose, the rule requires that an amateur station transmit its call sign at the end of each communication and at least every ten minutes during a communication that lasts longer than ten minutes. The overwhelming majority of commenters believe that the current rule properly balances the burden of requiring the station to transmit its call sign with the convenience of those receiving the transmissions to determine the identity of the station making the transmissions.

The commenters argue that the current requirement is not burdensome, but rather "is a good balance between operational flexibility and ease of identification," and that the maximum ten minutes between station identification (which has been in effect for over fifty years) is short enough that those listening can discover the source of a transmission in a reasonable time.

We concur.

We also agree that a thirty-minute interval would be too long, because interference and variations in propagation may not permit continuous reception of a specific station for thirty minutes.

In addition, we share the commenters’ concern that requiring a station receiving another station's transmission to listen for up to thirty minutes to determine the call sign of the transmitting station would compromise the ability of the amateur service to self-police, especially in light of the fact that other methods of identifying the station, such as looking up the station call sign based on the operating frequency, are not available because amateur stations do not operate on specifically assigned frequencies. It therefore is reasonable to require amateur station identification more frequently than is required of stations in other services.

We conclude, therefore, that proposing to increase the time between required station identification transmissions would not improve or enhance the operation of amateur service stations or otherwise be in the public interest.

Accordingly, we dismiss the Green Petition.

We also agree with the commenters that increasing the frequency of station identification as proposed in the Zook Petition is unnecessary and would be burdensome.

It also could lead to congestion, such as during a contest when many amateur operators are trying to contact a distant station.

Moreover, the petition does not demonstrate that so revising the station identification requirement would address the primary concern expressed by the petitioner – that many amateur radio operators do not identify their station timely or at all. Therefore, we agree with the comments that say, in various ways, that the problem of station operators not complying with the present rule is better addressed by enforcement of the present rule, rather than a rule change.

Finally, we note that while the current rule does not require identification at the beginning of a communication, many amateur stations already routinely begin a transmission with their call sign. Accordingly, we dismiss the Zook Petition.

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