Statement of the Board of Directors Regarding WA2BAJ and Interference Issues
The Greensboro Amateur Radio Association welcomes and encourages all licensed operators to use our repeaters. We strive to maintain a community of users who enjoy the fellowship and knowledge sharing that takes place on the W4GSO repeaters. We embrace innovation and the adoption of new technologies. In the spirit of maintaining that community, the GARA board has taken the following action.
GARA installed a Yaesu DR1X repeater in April, 2016 to replace their aging VHF repeater. This state of the art repeater allows both traditional FM analog and C4FM digital mode usage, based on what type of signal is received.
Since the installation of this repeater, it has experienced regular interference to ongoing digital communications. Initially, much of that was due to the simple fact that many users did not realize what was going on and were unfamiliar with coexisting digital and analog users on a single repeater. Education and explanation when issues were encountered was (and still is) the initial response. Cooperation between users of the different modes is expected. In fact, the repeater controller prevents digital use during all of the regularly scheduled nets on the W4GSO repeater.
There have, however, been ongoing and persistent efforts to disrupt and interfere with digital users of the repeater, consisting of analog transmissions on top of and in between digital transmissions in an effort to force the repeater from digital to analog mode. In addition to being rude and disrespectful, it is a violation of §97.101 (d), which states “No amateur operator shall willfully or maliciously interfere with or cause interference to any radio communication or signal.”
WA2BAJ, Joe Scott, has been vocal about his opposition to the “digital noise” coming from the repeater. He has been observed interfering with digital communications and warned verbally on several occasions to stop his interfering behavior.
During the late evening hours of 10 February, 2018, several stations were carrying out a roundtable QSO in digital mode. Shortly after the conversation started, interference became obvious and persistent, consisting of multiple, regular analog transmissions on top of the digital signals. One of the participants, using standard direction-finding techniques, was led to the address of record for WA2BAJ and observed the interfering transmissions on an HT with the antenna disconnected, followed by WA2BAJ identifying his station in analog and complaining about the digital use of the repeater.
This was captured on video and provided to the board of directors. This video and audio evidence is compelling, and there is no question that WA2BAJ was the perpetrator of the interfering transmissions.
The member who made the recording formally requested the GARA Board of Directors take action regarding the ongoing interference cause by WA2BAJ.
At the board meeting of 12 February, 2018, the GARA Board of Directors met and considered their options regarding this interference. Based on the ongoing, persistent and obviously intentional nature of the interference, and the refusal of WA2BAJ to follow verbal requests to cease this behavior, it was decided by unanimous vote of the board that WA2BAJ would no longer be allowed to use the W4GSO repeater systems except in situations of imminent threat to life or property, when all avenues to assist should be used. This is in accordance with §97.205 (e), which states, in part, “Limiting the use of a repeater to only certain user stations is permissible,” and statements from the FCC that support the right of repeater owners and control operators that they may prohibit specific stations from using their repeater networks.
It was not an issue that was undertaken lightly or capriciously, and we have no intention of making a regular use of this type of sanction but felt that our other options were exhausted.
It is important to note that this was not occasional, inadvertent interference, where someone made a mistake, nor was it short term, where someone may have been acting in brief unreasoned anger, but was long term, persistent, deliberate and malicious. Regular users of the W4GSO repeaters have no reason to be leery or uncertain of their use of the repeater, we simply ask that you behave courteously and within the rules on the air.