Topband: Legality of Circumventing Commercial MaritimeISP Services??

Herbert Schonbohm herbert.schoenbohm at
Sun Mar 16 13:19:42 EDT 2014

The majority of sailboat and powerboat cruising crowd (some call them 
yachtsmen) are to busy when they are at the helm to do internet.  
However when they pull into a port or harbor and drop the anchor and 
pour two fingers of Dewer's White Lable it is then they wish to catch up 
with their stock broker or divorce attorney and in many cases , 
unfortunately, amateur radio operators can't wait to help them.  In each 
island there are vast internet services they can subscribe to as well as 
roaming cell phone service where their I-Phone or Android are 
functioning and legal to use.  But no...they are taking advantage of the 
fact that some in the amateur community are enablers of this practice 
and even make money outfiting the boats with amateur rather than 
commercial equipment.  This shows disrespect for the laws and the 
territorial integrity of the countries this scofflaws are visiting,  
Carl most of the so called traffic is "important" to them and by virtue 
of this "importance" the rules say no.  Also operating radios for any 
purpose in the territorial waters of a country with out the requisite 
permit to do so is a violation of international law and treaty.  Most if 
not all French and former British islands do not allow the transmission 
of any third party messages which we call "traffic."  Additionally these 
boat people do not seem to care about the requirement that once they 
clear in to a foreign port they must abide by the rules of that country. 
Today this is serious business when you are anchored in the territorial 
waters an do not clear in legally, you can have your boat confiscated 
and the U.S. consulate won't be of much help if you clearly violated 
that country's laws.

In the U.S. which permits third party  "traffic" the only allowable 
message is that by virtue of its *unimportance* recourse to regular 
telecommunications services is not justified. We seem to forget this or 
disregafrd this completely. So anything *important* is not permitted 
except in a real emergency, Period. Also I would think it is about time 
that the ARRL stop pushing this traffic concept.  Sure during certain 
emergencies amateur radio is crucial but the old fashioned ARRL message 
routine is truly old school. Yet the even make this part of the popular 
SS contests and many wonder why.  New technologies, data, mesh networks, 
digital DMR, D-star, and hand held sat phones, have rendered the Brass 
Pounders League no longer as valuable as it used to be years ago.

Herb Schoenbohm, KV4FZ

Chasing ham radio pirates sure beats chasing fishing beacons on 160

On 3/16/2014 10:55 AM, Carl wrote:
> Is that any different than the traffic nets used on the hambands since 
> the 20's or earlier?  They were also accused of circumventing MaBell.
> If the communications are strictly personal then the emails would 
> IMO that should be the dividing line and if it is work 
> related then pay the going rate.
> OTOH if someone can afford just the fuel for a yatch then a mere $250 
> a year shouldnt be a hardship (-;
> Carl
> KM1H
> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Charlie Cunningham" 
> <charlie-cunningham at>
> To: <W5DNT at>; <topband at>
> Sent: Saturday, March 15, 2014 11:37 PM
> Subject: Re: Topband: Legality of Circumventing Commercial MaritimeISP 
> Services??
>> Well, that is exactly what it's all about, Dan!!
>> Some of us need to press those points really hard with FCC and ARRL!  
>> They
>> are trying to usurp our amateur spectrum for commercial and monetary
>> purposes
>> And it really IS about the maritime services!! They are wanting to 
>> provide
>> Internet services in the amateur bands for commercial and monetary 
>> purposes.
>> 73,
>> Charlie, K4OTV
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: Topband [mailto:topband-bounces at] On Behalf Of 
>> Dan White
>> Sent: Saturday, March 15, 2014 10:49 PM
>> To: topband at
>> Subject: Topband: Legality of Circumventing Commercial Maritime ISP
>> Services??
>> Yachtsmen may be using amateur radio in order to avoid paying the fees
>> for more expensive maritime email systems, perhaps such as
>> , which charges an annual vessel fee of $250.
>> This is most certainly a "radio service".
>> Winlink on the other hand, operates under Part 97 of FCC Regulations.
>> They market themselves to boat owners for maritime use. See
>> for details.
>> My question is simple and legitimate. After reading FCC Part 97.113
>> which deals with Prohibited Amateur Communications, the rules
>> specifically state routine communications are prohibited in cases where
>> other radio services are available. Are the yachtsmen using email
>> servers operating within our amateur spectrum in compliance with FCC
>> Part 97.113?
>> FCC Part 97.113 a:  No amateur station shall transmit,
>> (5)Communications, on a regular basis, which could reasonably be
>> furnished alternatively through other radio services.
>> 73,
>> Dan
>> W5DNT
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