[aprssig] APRS legality

Robert Bruninga bruninga at usna.edu
Tue Jan 27 11:09:57 EST 2009

> On the other hand, if you get on a repeater 
> where on one is talking and say "it is a nice 
> day", unless you do it to for the purpose of 
> starting a QSO, it is illegal.

Yes, we agree.  It is the intent of the operator that is being
judged, not the details of what he says, or how he says it, or
what mode, or anything else.  Simply, he is attempting to
communicate with other licensed operators without malice or
illegal intent.

>>> If I send my position out with MacAPRS,
>>> I do not get a reply from other stations.
>>> That makes it a one-way transmission.
>> I think that statement would appear to show 
>> a fundamental lack of  understanding of APRS.
> No, it would appear to show you have a 
> fundamental lack of understanding of APRS. 
> Or more accurately, it shows a difference in  
> our definitions of APRS, one we have fought 
> over for a decade. Your definition of APRS 
> is a concept that only exists in your 
> mind, the way you want people to use the 
> system. My definition of APRS is the way  
> people actually use, and want to use, the system.

You are correct.  I disagree completely with your definition
that attempts to turn APRS into a lifeless one-way,
lights-on-nobody-home, broadcast-for-public consumption system,
on which no one can find anyone to communicate with in real

The legal way to use the system is to participate in the network
as it was designed... As a two-way network of participants
exchanging tactical digital real-time information.  Your
definition as individual transmitters of self serving one-way
broadcasts to a wide public audience with no intention to
participate or interract with other licensed radio operators is
the kind of interpretation that kills general interest in APRS,
and undermines its ability to contribute across all aspects of
the amateur radio service.

> If your application of FCC rules is correct, 
> that means if I transmit my position on 
> 144.39 in an area WITHOUT a network, I am in 
> violation of the rules. There are many things 
> I find wrong about your interpretation, but 
> this is the most glaring.

So anyone that calls CQ on a dead band is in violation of the
rules?  Anyone that calls for someone else without first calling
him on the phone to see if he is listening is a violation of the

The beauty of the APRS concept is that it is an autonomous
come-as-you-are network where it is fully functional without any
apriori network.  It builds the network one station as a time as
people join the net.  That is why APRS has clearly defined the
NETCYCLE time.  That is the basic period that all participants
in the net identify their participation.  Those NETCYCLE times
are defined as 10 minutes for local or one-hop operations, or
when an operator is present, and 30 minutes max for wider
extended area nets using 2 or more hops.  Any station not
identifying at those minimum rates is considered off-the air, or
a non participant at that time.

> ... in the rules it says "An amateur station 
> shall not engage in any form of broadcasting, 
> nor may an amateur station transmit one-way  
> communications except as specifically provided 
> in these rules".

But, APRS is not one-way communictions!  It is normal amateur
radio communications between stations and operators.  The only
transmissions on APRS that are one-way are telemetry (less than
1% of APRS), Unattended remote WX instruments or flood gages,
(maybe another 1%) and unattended GPS trackers for following
objects where there is no amateur on board.  All other
participants are two-way participants in the APRS network.

> The word net [essentially] never appears 
> in Part 97.  Intent to participate in a net 
> is something that has absolutely NO standing  
> in the eyes of the FCC.

And yet sensible amateur radio operators for nearly a century
have used the NET concept to facilitate, improve and otherwise
maintain good communications on shared frequencies in support of
the intent of the amateur radio service as authorized by the
FCC.  It is fundamental teaching in amateur radio (and all other
2-way radio services) that there has to be net discipline on
shared frequencies in order for the communications channel to
operate effectively under stress.

> Maybe the point you are missing is that 
> Part 97 is written by lawyers.

And inerpreted by anyone with an opinion...
> GPS is a measuring instrument. Position 
> reports are therefore telemetry.  Good 
> thing too, otherwise APRS would have very little  
> justification in Part 97!

Positions (or weather for that matter) of APRS operators
participating in a net are no more telemetry than my saying "its
cold outside".  Hence, APRS was designed for operators
participating in the APRS network and exchannging tactical
relevant real-time information using a digital channel for net

We do agree that these so-called "one-way" trackers and remote
instruments are telemetry under the part 97 rules.  But I want
to encourage the licensed operators of those "trackers"
installed in a vehicle with a live human licensed radio operator
on board to also have the means to be contacted and participate
in the APRS netork if by nothing else than including his voice
monitoring frequency in his position text.  So that he can be a
two-way participant in the APRS network.

Just my opinion.

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