16 March, 2013

Why do Norwegian callsigns end in A?

Well actually not all end in A, but almost all of the recent ones do. Amateur callsigns in Norway are not so well documented on the web, so here is a short explanation.

Norwegian callsigns are used in these territories:
Depending on where I go, my callsign may be LA3ZA, JW3ZA, JX3ZA, or 3Y3ZA. We don't have districts so the number does not mean anything, except for 0. Callsigns with 0 are were reserved for non-Norwegian citizens, but this has stopped so LA0 callsigns are no longer issued.

Usually the callsign starts with LA, but why do so many of the LA callsigns end in A?

The callsigns have been distributed with the last letter as the most significant letter, e.g. in this order for the two letter series: LA1AA, LA1BA, LA1CA, ..., LA9ZZ. In the 80's it was necessary to add a third letter and that series started like this: LA1AAA, LA1BAA, LA1CAA, ..., LA1ABA, LA1BBA, ... As an example LA9KTA was issued last year. With the 'TA' we are getting closer to the last one, LA9ZZA, in the series ending in 'A' now. Therefore in some years all new radio amateurs will get callsigns ending in B.

Some Norwegian radio amateurs have an LB callsign. LB was previously used for a novice license with a 5 WPM (words per minute) Morse requirement. That was when 12 WPM was required for a full LA license. The system was simplified to a single class when the Morse code requirement was abandoned in 2003. Those who had started with the novice license and later upgraded to a full license with LA callsign have been allowed to go back to their former LB callsign, and that's what some have done. 

We also had an LC license at the same time. That was a no-code VHF/UHF-license. All those callsigns ended with -T for Technician license, e.g. LC3SAT. That series is no longer used and it is not possible to get the old LC callsign back.

There is no vanity callsign system in Norway, but club stations were allowed by the Norwegian Post and Telecommunications Authority to get one of the rare single-letter callsigns that were issued to the very first radio amateurs (up to about the time of the second world war). There are only 26*9 = 234 of these callsigns and one example is LA4O for the Oslo group. But this practice seems to have ended now. It is also possible to inherit a callsign from family as I have done.

There are also a few special callsign series:
  • LD: Packet radio repeater nodes for VHF and UHF, e.g. for APRS. An example is LD3GT
  • LF: License issued to a company, e.g. LF2E
  • LG: Only Norwegian-Swedish station LG5LG in Morokulien
  • LN: Club stations may switch to this in some of the major contests, e.g. LA8W - LN8W


Map from Wikipedia, Norway