Canada’s telecommunications regulator Innovation, Science, and Economic Development Canada (ISED) — formerly Industry Canada (IC) — has issued a revised version of the Radiocommunication Information Circular 3 (RIC-3), “Information on the Amateur Radio Service,” replacing the previous 2005 version. According to ISED, RICs are issued for the guidance of those engaged in radiocommunications in Canada, and the information they contain is subject to change without notice.
“Radio Amateurs of Canada (RAC) welcomes the change, as it addresses several long-standing issues pointed out by RAC in the past, where the document required updating to address changes in technologies and practices, notably the decision by many administrations to remove the requirement for Morse code qualification for new radio amateurs,” RAC Regulatory Affairs Officer Richard Ferch, VE3IAY/VE3KI, said in an RAC bulletin.
RAC said the new document contains several editorial changes, including the change from IC to ISED and clarifications regarding operating privileges granted to Basic licensees. “Over recent years, there have been questions about which qualification [license] is required by Canadian radio amateurs to modify a commercial transceiver to operate on amateur bands,” Ferch recounted. Advanced licensees may modify transceivers, because they are allowed to design and build transmitters. Ferch pointed out that the new RIC-3 makes it clear that Basic licensee privileges include “re-programming of radio equipment to operate in the amateur bands, if this can be done by a computer program,” but not “physical modifications to the circuitry.”
RAC had urged the relaxation of restrictions limiting remote control of Amateur Radio stations to Advanced licensees, in light of transceiver design changes that have simplified such operation. “We believe that those with Basic [licenses] should have this privilege, but ISED has not yet agreed,” Ferch said. “Dealing with regulations and their interpretation is an ongoing activity, where several rounds of discussion are often required to achieve results.”
RAC said the document also drops the outdated requirement for visiting American radio operators to demonstrate Morse proficiency to be allowed to operate HF phone in Canada. World Radiocommunication Conference 2003 concurred that Morse no longer needed to be an Amateur Radio licensing requirement, and the US dropped the Morse requirement in 2007.
RAC said the major change relates to reciprocal operating privileges, and in particular those provided through a European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (CEPT) permit. Canada is a signatory to the CEPT T/R 61-01 agreement, under which Canadian amateurs holding a CEPT permit issued in Canada may operate in European countries during temporary visits. The CEPT agreement no longer required a Morse qualification, and after negotiations between ISED and CEPT, the rules for Canadian participation have been updated to follow suit. There will no longer be two classes of CEPT permits according to the applicant’s Morse code qualification. In addition, CEPT has determined that only Advanced Canadian licensees will be eligible for reciprocal operating privileges under CEPT T/R 61-01.
Canada is also a party to the Inter-American Convention on an International Amateur Radio Permit (IARP), which provides reciprocal operating privileges to radio amateurs in signatory countries in ITU Region 2. At the October IARU Region 2 General Assembly in Chile, RAC and other IARU member societies agreed to encourage their governments to update this agreement. RAC said it has learned that the Inter-American Telecommunication Commission (CITEL) will do so, possibly as soon as next summer.