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Can Hams with a Canadian Basic Licence Program and Use Land Service Transceivers?

A Question was raised about the required licencing level to program and use transceivers manufactured for non-Ham (commercial) use. These are also known as land service radios. The opinion put forward is that there should be no issue with a Basic with Honours (or even a Basic only) qualified amateur from self programming and using such land service radios on the VHF or UHF amateur bands.

As far as the rules are concerned, we are simply dealing with what is said in Innovation, Science and Economic Development CanadaRadio Information Circular RIC-3, section 4.4 "Privileges and Restrictions". And there in Subsection 4.4.1 it says, regarding the "Basic Qualification": 

Can operate all station equipment, except for "home-made"  transmitters. 

Footnote 1 says:
"Build" in the context of the Basic Certificate is limited to the assembly of commercially available transmitter kits of professional design.

Obviously, the prohibition stated above for the Basic amateur not being allowed to build transmitting equipment does not apply to the context of programming radios for operating on specific frequencies (or modes) especially if such programming is part of the inherent design of the product.

For example, the readily available Tait commercial radios are designed for the land mobile service and must comply RSS 119 to be marketed in Canada for that service. This is a much higher standard than Amateur equipment. Actually, in Canada, amateur band radios do not need any IC certification although we often see Yaesu radios certified up RSS 215 (analogue scanner receivers. In the States, even amateur radio equipment must be certified by the FCC before it can be legally sold.

Most often nowadays, VHF land mobile service radios such as the Tait, span  the entire VHF range from 138 to 174 MHz and therefore easily cover the two metre amateur band, 144 to 148 MHz. And it is certainly permissible to program and use these radios in the amateur band providing the user is a certified amateur operating in the amateur service with a minimum of Basic qualification and communicating with other duly qualified amateurs.

Indeed, such radios could also be programmed outside the amateur band on duly authorized frequencies such as the SAR national frequency or other agencies frequencies providing written authorization is provided and providing the radio(s) in question are properly licenced either as part of a fleet or individually by Industry Canada and licenced is renewed on an annual basis. In order for radio equipment to be licenced in the land mobile service, it must be certified under RSS 119. In such cross service programming of radios, the amateur frequencies should not be included on the mobile or portable radio licence application. See RSS 119 at:

Now it may be, that some (older) land mobile equipment had to be hardware "hacked" into making them tune the ham band. Some equipment was designed and sold with "frequency splits"… for example, Motorola VHF radio model xyz, may have been sold to cover 136 to 150.4 MHz while another split version of the same radio covered 150.0 to 174 MHz. And sometimes, if the radio was not in the right split range for the ham band, a little hacking into the front end pre-selector or VCO or otherwise was necessary to "tune the radio" for enough performance or frequency lock for satisfactory operation in the 2 metre ham band. One may argue, I guess, that that should only be done by a technically competent "Advanced" certified ham. But clearly, that would only be a very far right interpretation of the rules. And of course, there is no such interpretation circular given to Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada officials if you asked them.

Again, Basic only qualified amateurs should be perfectly within the rules to use and even program radio equipment that is inherently designed to span the entire VHF range.

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