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Amateur radio call signs are allocated to amateur radio operators around the world. The call signs are used to legally identify the station or operator, with some countries requiring the station call sign to always be used and others allowing the operator call sign instead.
The International Telecommunication Union ITU allocates call sign prefixes for radio and television stations of all types.
Since these have been used to uniquely identify operators and locate amateur stations within a geographical region or country of the world.
Call signs meant for amateur radio follow the ITU's Article 19, specifically Prefixes are assigned internationally, and a separating numeral plus suffix are added by a national body to produce this unique identifier. These prefixes are agreed upon internationally, and are a form of country code. Each country must only assign call signs to its nationals or operators under its jurisdiction that begin with the characters allocated for use in that country or its territories.
In some countries, an operator may also select their own "vanity" call sign that conforms to local laws. The FCC in the U. The prefix can be composed of letters or numbers, the separating numeral is one from 0 to 9, and a suffix is from one to four characters, usually letters. Call signs begin with a one- two- or three-character prefix chosen from a range assigned by the ITU to the amateur's country of operation or other internationally recognized jurisdiction. This is not necessarily always the amateur's country of citizenship.
An individual operator is assigned a unique call sign beginning with this prefix and then completed with a separating numeral and suffix. Beginning at the left of the call sign block, the country chooses one, two or three characters from within the range assigned by the ITU, enough to distinguish its call signs from other jurisdictions.
A "letter range" always first refers to the first letter of a block, meaning that in the letter range "AAA—ALZ", the "A" is the letter range-designator. The jurisdiction then assigns a single digit a numeral to separate prefix from suffix as well as a suffix of from 1 to four characters the last being a letter and appends them in that order to their assigned prefix es.
The resulting call sign must uniquely identify a ham radio operator within that jurisdiction. This produces internationally recognized, unique call signs to identify licensed operators. Since suffixes can also contain digits, some countries issue suffixes usually temporarily beginning with enough digits to produce a number, usually associated with the special event for example the number of years, see New Zealand below.
In normal call sign assignment, if a call sign has two digits e. S5 indicating Slovenia, or 2S indicating Scotland. Call signs with two or more digits in them can arise a number of ways.
When the digits abut one another, it is important to distinguish which digit belongs to the prefix, which is the separating numeral, and which may belong to the suffix.
An example is A33A, a Tongan call sign; the first '3' is the second character of the prefix and the second '3' is the numeral separating 'A3' from the single-letter suffix 'A'. There are no single letter prefixes allocated by the ITU with an 'A', so the first 3 must be part of the prefix. Neither New Zealand's nor the Republic of Ireland's prefixes have numerals as prefix-characters.
However, both allow a second numeral as the leading character of the suffix and is not to be confused with the sign's separating numeral. As the first character of the suffix, the two digits can be taken together; for instance, to represent a two-digit number of significance to the operator. A New Zealand amateur who has been active for 30 years and currently is assigned call sign ZL1xxx can operate as ZL30xxx for up to three months.
Similarly a club with call ZL4xxx which has been established for 23 years can operate as ZL23xxx for up to three months. The New Zealand operator substitutes their identifying separating numeral with another, so long as a second digit is added to the beginning of their normal suffix.
This may result in call sign confusion in the rare case of two amateurs in differing numeral-areas also both having the same number of years of operation and suffix. Ireland also takes advantage of the ITU standard to allow digits as suffix-characters.
Ofcom in Great Britain also allows numerals in special event call signs. Numerous other cases of multiple numeral prefixes exist. An example occurred in when the "" was used in place of district numbers for the many stations that celebrated the bicentennial of the U. The 26 letters of the English alphabet and ten digits may be used to form call signs, accented letters excluded.
Letter combinations which can be confused with distress calls or which are reserved as abbreviations for radiocommunications services are excluded e. Malawi assigned the 7QA—7QZ block. Double- or single-digit prefixes are excluded. A callsign with a leading digit in the prefix always has a second character which is a letter and in rare cases a third character which is also a letter.
Currently, no allocated prefix has 0 zero or 1 one as one of its characters as they can be confused with the letters O Oscar and I India. All ten digits from 0 to 9 are allowed to be used as a separating numeral at the discretion of national allocating bodies. Similar rules apply in cases when bilateral agreements on visitors licenses exist, or a visitor is permitted to operate without being assigned a local call sign. When a country's separating numeral denotes a geographic area within, an operator from one region operating in another region can affix a secondary suffix indicating so.
Depending on the jurisdiction, the use of these five suffixes may be required for these types of operation. Some jurisdictions discourage this practice on the grounds that it could be confused with an amateur from the repeater's location working portable in Russia.
Each national authority has some options in relation to the form of the prefix, as long as enough characters are selected starting from the left of their assigned block to produce a prefix unique to its jurisdiction. Each country has authority over which numeral separates the prefix and suffix. The prohibition of the use of the digits 0 and 1 in land mobile stations does not apply to amateur stations.
The ITU however does not issue prefixes with either a 0 or 1 as one of the characters. Bahamas issues call signs without a separating numeral. They are assigned the C6A—C6Z block, and the '6' is part of the prefix. Examples are as found on QRZ. The suffix can be from one to four characters subject to ITU exclusions above. Whereas for ITU purposes the prefix does not include the separating numeral, for country purposes often the separating numeral is included when the prefix is referred to.
A country can consist of many DXCC entities depending on its geographical make-up. As political boundaries change through treaty or warfare, sometimes call sign prefixes are reassigned by the ITU to the new controlling government, or are reassigned by national governments for other reasons.
Some call sign block ranges are unassigned by the ITU, e. Any call sign used by an amateur in these unassigned block ranges usually had it assigned to them by a group with an unrecognized national claim. Unless otherwise noted, they have no value for DXCC awards. In addition, during their period of independence from the Republic of South Africa , which lasted in some cases from —, the Bantustans had prefixes not recognized by the international community. Any country or ITU prefix assignment can have many entities within it.
For example, in the United States Hawaii with 'H' as the second character of the prefix and '6' as the separating numeral and Alaska with 'L' as the second letter of the prefix are considered different DXCC entities, as are Sable Island and St.
Paul Island in Canada. DeSoto's landmark QST article defining a "country" as a discrete geographical entity. It refers to a list of saltwater islands worldwide maintained by the Radio Society of Great Britain , which assigns a unique code to an island or group of islands, like EU for Great Britain , OC for Australia etc.
EU — Dodecanese Islands, etc. In many other cases there is no direct relation between the callsign and the IOTA code. Ham radio operators in the United States may apply for a specific callsign, including calls from other zones, so long as they have the appropriate license class for the desired callsign format.
In Canada, a "2 x 3" call a format with two letters, a number, three letters, like VE1ZZZ may be freely requested from a list of available calls; the shorter "2 x 2" call has a waiting period in many provinces. An Amateur Extra might have W0OL which is a "1 x 2" call , but a General-class licensee could not, because 1 x 2 calls are reserved for the Amateur Extra class.
Likewise, a ham on the mainland could not get a callsign beginning with the KH6 prefix, which is assigned to Hawaii, although a radio amateur who moves to a different call sign district within the same country is able to keep his or her original callsign. Individual amateurs may want a callsign with their name or initials embedded, callsigns that had been held by family members or friends, or callsigns that they themselves formerly held and gave up for whatever reason.
Some people want a callsign that is shorter, or easier to pronounce, or just "fits their personality" better. CW Morse code operators might want a callsign that "sounds good" or is short when sent in Morse.
This is referred to as "CW weight". Radio amateur clubs will sometimes request specific callsigns in memoriam of deceased members silent keys ; G5RV is held by a British club in memory of the inventor of the G5RV antenna. Some request callsigns which reflect specific interests or modes of operation such as VE3QRP for a low-power radio club in Ontario. Various "special event" callsigns are issued for periods ranging from a day to a month, either for individual radio contest days or commemoration of specific current or historic events.
Occasionally, a radio club will obtain a shorter callsign for a day; the U. FCC issues calls as short as 1 x 1 with "K1D" being a popular choice for individual events. These callsigns are not permanent and are quickly reassigned to other stations for subsequent events.
A well-known short callsign is JY1, which belonged to Hussein of Jordan , who served as that nation's king. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Obtaining Vanity Call Sign". Retrieved 27 August For example, the call sign 9XB was issued in Rwanda in Chile has also issued similar call signs, for example CD Archived from the original PDF on Archived from the original on Radio Society of Great Britain.
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