[aprssig] Pagers as part of the Text Messaging Initiative

Steve Dimse steve at dimse.com
Mon Jan 26 22:39:23 EST 2009

On Jan 26, 2009, at 9:56 PM, Ben Jackson wrote:
> So, the million dollar question is, what classifies as subject  
> matter of
> direct interest to the amateur service? How would a APRS message  
> differ
> from a POCSAG transmission to a pager? ACKing is not required (I  
> think,
> my protocol reference is in another room), and I (IMNSHO) don't see a
> difference between the two besides the protocols used.

The rule talks about "subject matter of direct interest to the amateur  
service", not subject matter of interest to individuals using the  
amateur service. In other words, to meet this exemption, the material  
must be of interest to the service as a whole, not to individuals  
using it. Information about, say, the latest amateur satellite to  
launch are what they are talking here, not a message from me to Bob.  
Even my ego doesn't permit me to say that everything I would say would  
interest amateur radio as a whole ;-)

> So, then does the question become: Is it a problem for the  
> originator of
> the message or a problem for the messagegate? Does 97.219 apply?

If the originator can be proven to be on RF (meaning the message never  
passed through the APRS IS where it can be spoofed), then the  
originator is responsible (ssuming the FCC can prove the originator  
was the one transmitting, not a bootlegger), because transmitting on  
RF is a means of verifying identity. If the originator is on the  
Internet, or the message traveled through the internet at any point,  
then the responsibility lies with the message gate operator (because  
there is no verification of identity on the APRS Internet System, and  
any message can be spoofed).

The easy way to think about 97.219 is this: Part 97 only applies to  
people with ham radio licenses. Sending a prohibited message is a  
violation of Part 97, and someone is responsible. The FCC must  
determine who is responsible, and unless there is a trail leading back  
to a licensed radio amateur, blame falls on the person that first  
transmits the message.

> Which I think seems fair interpretation, but I think there is a large
> grey area. However, this is a question for the landsharks. Would  
> this be
> a question for someone at the ARRL? Do they provide interpretation of
> Part 97 for sticky legal conundrums that we are currently engaging in?
> Of course, if this is deemed non-kosher, is the next step to poke the
> FCC? How the heck does anyone even do this?

The ARRL will not get involved in this. Asking the FCC is virtually  
guaranteed to result in a no. Like everything else, it is up to the  
individual operators to decided the level of risk which they feel  
comfortable assuming.

Steve K4HG

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