Friday, June 19, 2009

LIDS Lobby in DC

A contingent from the Lost Island DX Society (LIDS) spent the last couple of days in the nation's capital (no, not Newington) attempting to lobby congress to overturn the ten minute identification rule in Part 97 of the FCC rules and regulations pertaining to amateur radio operators. The ten minute rule requires hams in the United States to identify using their callsigns. While on the surface, seems a good idea, the reality has been less than useful.

The majority of US hams fall into one of two categories when it comes to identifying. The first are hams who begin and end every transmission with their callsign, and sometimes the call of the station they are talking to, regardless of the length of their transmission. We call these hams Ever-D's, for Ever IDing. Many of these are newer hams, who are justifiably proud of their newly earned callsign, and who may be afraid they will fail to meet the FCC ID requirement. In time, they may slow down and only identify every other transmission.

The second category is composed mostly of old timers, Big Guns, and scofflaws. Hams in this category never bother giving their callsigns. We call these ops Never-D's. They typically only talk to their close friends, and figure they already their call, so why bother giving it? Although not limited to any particular band, they can be commonly found on 75m. There are tales of two cronies on 75m that once managed to have a QSO that lasted for four days and they never once give a callsign.

So why do the LIDS feel the ten minute rule should be abolished? Well, the Ever-D's are constantly IDing because they fear they'll miss the ten minute window, and the Never-D's don't bother to ID anyway. So why not just eliminate the rule? Most hams will continue to ID at some reasonable regularity out of pure ego. So the FCC will be able to identify everyone except the scofflaws, but they never ID to begin with.

How did our lobbying efforts in DC go? Well, we didn't actually get to see any congresspersons or senators. But we did find a really good Thai place in Dupont Circle that makes a mean Peach Bellini martini. DC still has a plentiful supply of fine YL staffers acting as gatekeepers for our legislators. Unfortunately, our charm offensive is still ineffective. But we'll re-group and plan another offensive before the fall contest season begins.

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