T1F06 from the Technician License Course Section 2.3, Call Signs:
Which of the following formats of a self-assigned indicator is acceptable when identifying using a phone transmission?
A. KL7CC stroke W3
B. KL7CC slant W3
C. KL7CC slash W3
D. All of these choices are correct
A self-assigned indicator added to your call sign is intended to help clarify your specific operating situation. This question refers to one of the most common uses of a self-assigned indicator, tacking on a geographic indicator to the call sign suffix to indicate the location from which you are transmitting, especially when that location is not your home station.
In this question’s example the call sign has a KL7 prefix and call area number, indicating a station licensed in Alaska. The self-assigned indicator W3 is added to clarify that this station is not transmitting from its Alaskan home. The W is an indicator for the lower 48 United States, and the 3 indicates call area 3 that is the Pennsylvania / Maryland / Delaware area. Thus, W3 added to the call sign tells listening stations that the transmission is originating from US call area 3 and not from Alaska. As noted in the question, any of the terms clearly separating the call sign from a self-assigned indicator is acceptable: Stroke, slant, or slash, or another suitable word that indicates separation from the call sign (i.e. “mobile” or “portable,” as noted below).
Reciprocal Agreement Stations: Further, FCC regulations state that non-US licensed operators from nations with which the US has reciprocal agreements and who are transmitting from inside the US must use a self-assigned indicator identifying the geographic location from which they are transmitting. Part 97.119 states,
“When the station is transmitting under the authority of § 97.107 of this part, an indicator consisting of the appropriate letter-numeral designating the station location must be included before the call sign that was issued to the station by the country granting the license.”
In this case, if the transmitting station is licensed in Canada the self-assigned indicator must be included after the suffix (VE2XXX/W5). If the transmitting station is from any other reciprocal agreement nation the indicator must come before the call sign (W4/IBDX).
Station Type Indicators: While not technically “call sign indicators,” other common self-assigned terms provide somewhat different clarification. For instance, stations identifying from a mobile station in a vehicle will often add the word “mobile” to their call sign. A stationary station operating away from its normal location may use the term “portable,” especially when portable power (battery, solar, etc.) is being used to operate the station. The term “contest” is often stated with a call sign to indicate the identifying station is seeking contest contacts. These terms are also suitable as distinguishing separators for true self-assigned indicators. For example, “WØSTU portable W5.”
Allowable Indicators: A self-assigned indicator must not conflict with any other indicator specified by the FCC Rules (such as “AA”, “AG”, “AE” or “KT”) or with any prefix assigned to another country (such as “DL”, “F”, “G” or “VE”). Indicators must be included before, after, or both before and after the FCC-assigned call sign. So, why are those “AG,” “AE,” and “KT” indicators specified by FCC rules? Here lies another Technician Class question pool item in the 2014-2018 question pool!
License Upgrades: Also in accordance with Part 97.119, if a US amateur operator has “requested a license modification” (passed an upgrade VE exam, but has not yet received the upgraded license class on the FCC ULS database), the operator must add an indicator to the end of the call sign when transmitting under the newly earned privileges of the upgraded license class. Operators upgrading from the grandfathered Novice Class to Technician Class must add “/KT” after the call sign. Operators upgrading to General Class must add “/AG,” and operators upgrading to Extra Class must add “/AE.” Once the upgraded license is listed in the ULS database these self-assigned indicators are no longer required in identifying transmissions.
Tactical Call Signs: A related topic is the use of tactical call signs. Tactical call signs are identifiers used as a convenience, especially in a tactical or emergency net, to easily identify a station’s position, function, or other characteristics. An example of a tactical call sign used in the VE question pool is “Race Headquarters,” perhaps referring to a tactical net conducting community service communications for a bicycle rally, foot race, or automobile rally. Tactical call signs are a type of self-assigned indicator, but they are not necessarily tacked onto the FCC call sign since they are typically for local event convenience and clarity of communications. However…
When using a tactical call sign a station must still comply with FCC regulations regarding station identification with the FCC call sign. So, when you transmit using a tactical call sign you must still identify using the FCC call sign every 10 minutes and at the end of a set of transmissions.
Other more unusual scenarios may require or promote the use of additional types of self-assigned indicators, but for the beginning Technician these will be the most commonly encountered scenarios.
The answer to Technician Class question T1F06, “Which of the following formats of a self-assigned indicator is acceptable when identifying using a phone transmission?” is “All of these choices are correct.”
Related Questions: T1F08 (2014 question pool), T1F07 (2010 question pool), T1F01, T1F02