Flags of some US Overseas TerritoriesU.S. Overseas Territories Amateur Radio License Data

US Territorial Amateur Radio License Statistics Inside and Outside the 48 Continental United States

by Dr. Carol F. Milazzo, KP4MD (posted 07 August 2015)
E-mail: [email protected]

CONTENTS
  • Introduction
  • History
  • Territory License Count
  • Reserved US Territorial Prefixes
  • Territorial Callsigns Within the Continental US
  • References
  • Return to KP4MD home page
  • INTRODUCTION

    The issue of amateur radio callsigns that do not correspond with geographic location exists with some United States overseas territorial callsigns and also on a larger scale within the United States since March 24, 1978 when the Federal Communications Commission through Docket 21135 deleted Part 97.53 permitting licensees to retain their callsign regardless of wherever they move within the U.S., and since 1996 when the FCC adopted PR Docket 93-305 permitting vanity callsigns1 with any requested call district number.  In fact approximately 12% of all United States amateur radio operators have call signs that do not reflect the district in which they reside.2  This situation requires diligence in confirming the actual location of a station for contests and operating awards such as Worked All States and DX Century Club.3

    HISTORY OF U.S. TERRITORIAL CALLSIGNS

    Prior to 1927, amateur radio callsigns consisted of a call district number and two letters. After the 1927 International Radiotelegraph Conference assigned prefixes K, N and W to the United States, the U.S. Department of Commerce issued the callsign prefix W to stations in the continental U.S., and the prefix K to the overseas territories. The prefix N was reserved for the U.S. Navy.4

    Upon the postwar reopening of the amateur radio service in 1946, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) foresaw the coming exhaustion of W prefix callsigns and decided to assign both W and K prefixes to continental U.S. radio amateurs. They then reserved distinctive two letter callsign prefixes for the overseas territories. The Caribbean island territories like Puerto Rico KP4 and Virgin Islands KV4 were assigned two letter prefixes with the number "4", considering them to be offshore extensions of the 4th mainland call area. For this same reason, the Panama Canal Zone was assigned KZ5, Hawaii was KH6 and Alaska was KL7.5

    The U.S. territorial prefixes in effect from 1946 through 1978 were: KB6 Baker, Howland & American Phoenix Is,; KC6 Caroline Is.; KG6 Guam & Mariana Is.; KH6 Hawaii; KJ6 Johnston; KL7 Alaska; KM6 Midway; KP4 Puerto Rico; KP6 Palmyra Group & Jarvis; KS4 Swan Is.; KS6 American Samoa; KV4 Virgin Is,; KW6 Wake Is.; KX6 Marshall Is.; and KZ5 Panama Canal Zone. KC4 was reserved for both Navassa Is. and U.S. stations in Antarctica, KA0-KA9 for U.S. military personnel in Japan, KG4 for U.S. military personnel at Guantanamo, and KR6 for U.S. military personnel in Okinawa and the Ryukyu Islands. Novice class territorial callsigns were distinguished by an initial prefix letter "W" that was replaced by a "K" upon upgrading. Typical Novice class station callsigns would be WG6ABC in Guam or WP4ABC in Puerto Rico.6

    In March 1978, the FCC completely restructured systematic assignment of amateur radio callsigns and changed most overseas amateur radio prefixes. All Caribbean island territories were assigned KP, NP and WP prefixes, and the Pacific island territories were assigned AH, KH, NH and WH prefixes.7 By that time the Caroline Islands, Marshall Islands, Ryukyu Islands and Swan Is. were no longer under U.S. administration. Call signs in the KC4AAA-KC4AAF and KC4USA-KC4USZ blocks continue to be reserved for Antarctic stations. Other call sign blocks reserved for FEMA and overseas U.S. Military personnel are listed in the November 12, 2009 ARRL Letter.

    AMATEUR RADIO LICENSES IN ALASKA, HAWAII AND US OVERSEAS TERRITORIES (FCC ULS Data from 31 July 2015)8

    Amateur Radio Licenses in Alaska, Hawaii and US Overseas Territories
    State or Territory Prefixes Geo Amateur Advanced General Technician Technician Novice Club Total
    Region Extra Plus
    AK - Alaska [AKNW]L US/11 595 236 935 0 2042 41 64 3913
    AS - American Samoa [AKNW]H8 US/13 16 1 5 0 10 0 4 36
    GU - Guam [AKNW]H2 US/13 95 17 74 0 315 3 11 515
    HI - Hawaii [AKNW]H(6|7[^K]) US/13 697 242 849 0 2101 66 134 4089
    MP - Northern Mariana Islands [AKNW]H0 US/13 164 4 51 0 236 1 15 471
    PR - Puerto Rico [KNW]P[34] US/12 564 308 965 0 2383 367 79 4666
    VI - US Virgin Islands [KNW]P2 US/12 53 16 79 0 94 3 26 271
    Alaska, Hawaii and Overseas Territory Totals 2184 824 2958 0 7181 481 333 13961
    USA including Territory Totals 143030
    54630
    182424
    1
    387489
    13170
    12316
    793060

    AMATEUR RADIO CALLSIGN PREFIXES RESERVED FOR US OVERSEAS TERRITORIES

    The Federal Communications Commission assigns amateur radio callsigns with the following prefixes exclusively to amateur radio stations with a mailing address in the corresponding overseas territory pursuant to FCC Part 97.19(d)(4) which states:

    "(4) A call sign designated under the sequential call sign system for Alaska, Hawaii, Caribbean Insular Areas, and Pacific Insular areas will be assigned only to a primary or club station whose licensee's mailing address is in the corresponding state, commonwealth, or island..."

    US Overseas Territories Prefixes Locations of the insular areas of the
                        United States
    since 1978
    1946-1978
    Territory
    [AKNW]H0 KG6,WG6
    Mariana Is
    [AKNW]H1 KB6,WB6
    Baker Howland*
    [AKNW]H2 KG6,WG6
    Guam
    [AKNW]H3 KJ6,WJ6
    Johnston Is*
    [AKNW]H4 KM6,WM6
    Midway Is*
    [AKNW]H5 KP6,WP6
    Palmyra Is*
    [AKNW]H5K KP6,WP6
    Kingman Reef*
    [AKNW]H6&7 KH6,WH6
    Hawaii
    [AKNW]H7K KH6,WH6
    Kure Is*
    [AKNW]H8 KS6,WS6
    American Samoa
    [AKNW]H9 KW6,WW6
    Wake Is*
    [AKNW]L KL7,WL7
    Alaska
    [KNW]P1 KC4,WC4
    Navassa Is*
    [KNW]P2 KV4,WV4
    US Virgin Is
    [KNW]P3&4 KP4,WP4
    Puerto Rico
    [KNW]P5 KP4,WP4
    Desecheo Is*


     *Uninhabited

    Since the establishment of the Novice class license in 1951 until 1978, Novices in overseas US territories were assigned a corresponding callsign prefix with the initial letter "W." Alaska, Hawaii and overseas territories count as DX entities separate from the continental United States for many operating awards and contests.  Amateur radio operators in these entities may retain their callsigns when relocating to the continental United States or to any of its other overseas entities. In addition, a few amateur radio stations have established a temporary mail drop in an overseas territory solely for the purpose of obtaining such a callsign with no intent of ever operating a station in that territory, such as the case of the Alaskan callsign ALHA currently held by the Coconut Island DX Association in Hilo, Hawaii.  Amateur radio operators who seek contact with these territories for award or contest credit may experience some confusion when hearing such stations' callsigns on the air.

    TERRITORIAL CALLSIGNS REGISTERED WITHIN TEN POPULOUS CONTINENTAL UNITED STATES (FCC ULS Data from 31 July 2015)8

    This is a count of Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico "expatriate" callsigns with current addresses registered within ten of the most populous continental United States.
    This sample shows there are 1,527 KH6, KL7 and KP4 type callsigns among the 361,388 licenses in these states.  In comparison, there are 12,668 radio amateurs residing in the corresponding territories.

    Prefix CA TX FL WA OH NY PA MI IL NJ Total in 10 states Total in territory
    AH6 21 7 10 8 1 1 1 1 2 1 53
    KH6 59 17 19 33 3 1 0 3 4 1 140
    NH6 17 10 8 12 1 0 0 0 1 0 49
    WH6 72 17 24 24 6 2 4 5 4 3 161
    AH7 5 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6
    KH7 19 3 7 11 0 0 0 2 0 4 46
    NH7 16 6 5 5 1 3 0 1 1 0 38
    WH7 11 3 1 2 0 0 2 0 1 0 20
    Hawaii 220 64 74 95 12 7 7 12 13 9 513 4089
    AL 14 16 12 36 3 4 4 4 3 1 97
    KL 42 47 24 130 10 11 4 15 10 1 294
    NL 7 13 5 31 3 2 5 0 0 1 67
    WL 28 22 10 46 6 1 4 3 4 3 127
    Alaska 91 98 51 243 22 18 17 22 17 6 585 3913
    KP3 1 0 1 0 0 2 2 0 0 1 7
    NP3 0 5 22 0 2 3 2 0 0 0 34
    WP3 1 3 15 0 2 2 1 0 1 5 30
    KP4 9 13 88 2 3 3 5 2 1 1 127
    NP4 4 5 19 0 2 3 1 0 1 6 41
    WP4 10 24 106 2 4 14 12 0 7 11 190
    Puerto Rico
    25 50 251 4 13 27 23 2 10 24 429 4666
    Total Territorials 336 212 376 342 47 52 47 36 40 39 1527 12668
    All Amateurs 103273 51321 40896 30846 28229 27653 23799 20885 20444 14042 361388

    REFERENCES

    1. United States Amateur Radio Vanity Callsigns, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amateur_radio_call_signs#Vanity_call_signs
    2. Amateur Radio Licensing in the United States: Call signs, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amateur_radio_licensing_in_the_United_States#Call_signs
    3. "KL7, KH6, KP2 - What State Are You In?", http://www.eham.net/articles/13493
    4. An Overview of Amateur Call Signs--Past and Present, QST May 1994, pp. 54-59
    5. Happenings: Second Reopening Order, QST Dec 1945, pp. 31-32
    6. Noncontinental Prefixes, QST Apr 1946, p. 43
    7. Call Me Anything, But Don't Call me 'Good Buddy', QST May 1978, p. 49-50
    8. Federal Communications Commission Universal Licensing System Amateur License Search, http://wireless2.fcc.gov/UlsApp/UlsSearch/searchAmateur.jsp
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