The FCC notified me this morning (9 December 2016) that my application for a new call sign has been approved. I am now N3II.
The impulse apply for a new call happened while distracting myself from my work on ae7q’s website. I started looking for the cw-lightest available callsigns. My callsign at the time, AA3II, has a cw weight of 44. I was happy enough with AA3II, especially the way it sounded: the poet in me really liked its iambic lilt. But I was “just curious” about what was out there. I tested out the lighter callsigns I found in my inner ear. Initially, I liked none of them.
Then I started creating hypothetical lighter callsigns and looking them up to see what their user status was. When I concocted N3II (cw-weight, 36), I liked its light weight and that it preserved the “ii” from AA3II. It also had the proper regional cardinal (3), and its prefix repeated my first prefix (N4FSI). I also discovered that, although the call sign was “active” according to the FCC, the OM had been an SK for several years. So I decided to file online for its cancellation on the basis of an obituary I found online. About two weeks after my filing, the FCC cancelled the call sign and dated its availability to a month from that cancellation.
I filed for N3II on the morning it became available. Given that I filed from Rome, where I am for a few weeks on business, my breakfast time filing came in at just past midnight US east coast time. Mine was the first application. That, however, isn’t supposed to matter in the competition; what does is the fifteen other OMs and one club that also filed. So over the last seventeen business days I had given up on getting the call sign, and was not terribly upset. Nothing beats, I told myself, that iambic lilt in AA3II.
Well, what do you know: I checked my email today and there it was, the FCC application grant. So as of today AA3II becomes N3II.
I’m sure I’ll stick with this one for a while, but allow me to make one editorial remark: there’s a filing with the FCC to require hams to keep a vanity call sign for the length of its normal validity. My application violates the principle of that petition since I had AA3II for less than a year. I’m sure happy to have a 1×2 call sign and one that is so cw-light. But I understand the frustration of those who look at AA3II, a distinctive Extra-class call, and see an injustice in its being locked up now for two years before anyone else can apply it. I get that. I also looked at some of my competitors and found one OM who is on his eleventh call sign in less than fifteen years and was awarded his latest call sign while waiting for this one along with ten others. That’s obnoxious, and I say that with some qualms about my own application. I suppose in the end I distinguish my application from his as the old moralists would distinguish a mortal from a venial sin. To the point, all this has made me sympathetic with the petition in a way that I wasn’t before I went through this process.
Back to something less heavy: I return to the States for the Christmas holiday and look forward to getting on the air. Then in mid-January I leave for six months in Germany. Rules there require registration with the German equivalent of the FCC and being issued a German call sign. Let’s see how that goes!