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FCC Issues Warnings for Amateur Radio Infractions, Unlicensed Operations


The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau recently made public warning letters to several individuals for alleged infractions of the Part 97 Amateur Service rules or Section 301 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended. On August 9, Special Counsel Laura L. Smith wrote Jack Hartley, K4WSB, of Tampa, Florida, citing evidence received from members of the Amateur Auxiliary (Official Observers) that Hartley had operated outside of his Advanced class privileges while attempting to work a station on Kwajalein Atoll in the South Pacific.

“According to the OOs, the operator refused the contact noting that you were not authorized to be operating in the band,” Smith wrote. “This was your 4th attempt to contact this operator. As a result of your three prior attempts to contact the operator, the OOs had sent you three OO advisory cards for out-of-band operation. Rather than sending you a 4th advisory, they contacted the Commission and asked us to remind you that your continued attempts to contact the operator on Kwajalein Atoll constitute a violation of our rules, as you are not authorized to be operating in that band.” The three prior instances occurred in 2007 and 2008.

Smith cautioned Hartley that continued operation outside the parameters of his license could lead to enforcement action that could include revocation or suspension and fines. “It could also jeopardize any attempts to obtain an upgraded Amateur Radio license,” she added.

In August, Smith sent identical warning notices to Charles W. Johnson and Mark W. Althaus, addresses withheld and unavailable, warning them of unlicensed operation. “It has come to the attention of the Federal Communications Commission that at multiple times in the last several months you have made radio transmissions on 26.735 MHz, in the so-called ‘freeband,’” Smith said. “Operation in this band is prohibited.”

Smith emphasized that transmitting outside of authorized frequencies violates Section 301 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, and could lead to the imposition of substantial fines and seizure of radio equipment as well as possible criminal action. up to and including imprisonment. “Because unlicensed operation creates a danger of interference to important radio communication services and may subject the operator to severe penalties, this warning emphasizes the importance of complying strictly with these legal requirements,” she concluded.

On July 8, Smith warned James E. Richburg, address withheld and unknown, against unlicensed radio operation in the Amateur Radio bands. “It has come to the attention of the Federal Communications Commission that at multiple times in the last several months you have made radio transmissions in the amateur band, for which a license is required,” Smith wrote. “You have no such license.”

Smith pointed out that operating transmitting equipment without a valid FCC license violated Section 301 of the Communications Act of 1934 as amended, “and may subject the responsible parties to substantial monetary forfeitures, in rem arrest action against the offending radio equipment, and criminal sanctions including imprisonment.” 

Unauthorized operation of this radio station must cease immediately,” Smith told Johnson, Althaus, and Richburg, giving each 10 days to respond to the respective warning notices, stating specific actions taken to comply with the FCC’s rules. Copies of the letters to Johnson and Althaus went to the FCC’s New York Field Office and the Northeast Regional Director. A copy of the letter to Richburg went to the Norfolk (Virginia) Resident Agent and the South Central Regional Director.

On June 24, Smith sent identical warning notices to Eric J. Christianson, KNØCW, and Thomas E. Barnes, N7OVC, both of Reno, Nevada, to inform them that the trustee of the WA7DG repeater in Sparks, Nevada, had requested that they refrain from using his repeater. “The written request was issued as a result of your failure to follow operational rules set forth by the licensee/control operators of the repeater system for their users,” Smith said. “The Commission requires that repeaters be under the supervision of a control operator and not only expects, but requires, that such control operators be responsible for the proper operation of the repeater system. Control operators may take whatever steps they deem appropriate to ensure compliance with the repeater rules, including limiting the repeater use to certain users, converting the repeater to a closed repeater or taking it off the air entirely.”

Smith advised the licensees that the FCC expects them to abide by the repeater owner’s request and “any other similar requests to cease operations on any other repeaters by any other repeater licensees, control operators or trustees.”

She said continued use of the WA7DG repeater could subject them to “severe penalties, including license revocation, monetary forfeiture (fine) or a modification proceeding to restrict the frequencies upon which you may operate.”

All of Smith’s warning notices concluded with this advisory: “Fines normally range from $7,500 to $10,000.”





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