FCC Has Resolved Technical Issues and Resumes Processing Amateur Radio License Applications

FCC sealFrom ARRL News:

(Updated 5/9/2022) – The ARRL Volunteer Examiner Coordinator (VEC) reports that the FCC Universal Licensing System (ULS) electronic batch filing (EBF) system is back online and functioning normally. A message sent by the FCC ULS EBF Team to VECs explains that the technical issues with ULS EBF filing are resolved, and that VECs may resume submitting files containing amateur radio license applications. ARRL VEC has submitted most of the backlog of its files for applications processed on, or after, April 27, and expects to have all of the backlog submitted by the end of the day (May 9).

Amateur Radio Tower Ordinance Being Debated in Jonesboro, Maine

Contest station towers in Jonesboro, ME
Amateur contest station towers, Jonesboro, Maine

Phil Duggan, N1EP, writes in the April, 2022 issue of Signals Downeast:

The antenna farm pictured here is right adjacent to RT-1 in Jonesboro. This upset many locals who wanted to ban or severely restrict amateur radio antennas and support structures via a proposed ordinance. A public hearing was held on March 25 and Maine Section Manager Phil Duggan, N1EP, and Peter Stackpole, N1MLE, informed town officials and residents at the hearing of the value of ham radio as a public service and emergency communications asset for the community and regions.

The selectmen, town clerk, and most of the residents seemed amendable to meet with members of the amateur radio community and emergency services to discuss drafting a more reasonable ordinance that comply with federal and state laws, but would still prevent any further large installations as pictured above.

Other towns will probably be watching what Jonesboro does in regard to amateur radio restrictions, as similar stations have been erected in other parts of the county. The Maine Ham Radio Society will continue to monitor the situation, and will be following up with Jonesboro officials to make sure we do get input in any new proposed ordinance.

New FCC Application Fee Will Not Apply To Amateur Radio License Upgrades

FCC logoFrom ARRL News:
 
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) staff has clarified in response to an ARRL request that the new $35 application fee will not apply to most license modifications, including those to upgrade an Amateur Radio Licensee’s operator class and changes to club station trustees. The FCC staff explained that the new fees will apply only to applications for a new license, renewal, rule waiver, or a new vanity call sign. As previously announced, the new fees take effect on April 19, 2022.
 
“We are pleased that the FCC will not charge licensees the FCC application fee for license upgrade applications,” said ARRL Volunteer Examiner Coordinator (VEC) Manager Maria Somma, AB1FM. “While applicants for a new license will need to pay the $35 FCC application fee, there will be no FCC charge for future upgrades and administrative updates such as a change of mailing or email address. Most current licensees therefore will not be charged the new FCC application fee until they renew their license or apply for a new vanity call sign.”
 
ARRL previously reported that the new $35 application fee for Amateur Radio licenses will become effective on April 19, 2022. Further information and instructions about the FCC Application Fee are available from the ARRL VEC.

New Amateur Radio License Applications Fee To Become Effective April 19, 2022

FCC logo

From ARRL Web:

A Public Notice released by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on March 23, 2022, in MD Docket No. 20-270, announced that new application fees for Wireless Telecommunications Bureau applications will become effective on April 19, 2022. The new fees, mandated by Congress, apply to applications for Amateur Radio licenses including those associated with filing Form 605, the Amateur Operator/Primary Station Licensee Application.

Effective April 19, 2022, a $35 fee will apply to applications for a new Amateur Radio license, modification (upgrade and sequential call sign change), renewal, and vanity call signs.

Anticipating the implementation of the fee in 2022, the ARRL Board of Directors, at its July 2021 meeting, approved the “ARRL Youth Licensing Grant Program.” Under the program, ARRL will cover a one-time $35 application fee for license candidates younger than 18 years old for tests administered under the auspices of the ARRL Volunteer Examiner Coordinator (ARRL VEC). Qualified candidates also would pay a reduced exam session fee of $5 to the ARRL VEC. ARRL is finalizing details for administering the program.

ARRL had filed comments in opposition to imposing a fee on Amateur Radio license applications. The FCC initially proposed a higher, $50 fee. In a Report and Order (R&O), released on December 29, 2020, the amount was reduced — the FCC agreeing with ARRL and other commenters that its proposed $50 fee for certain amateur radio applications was “too high to account for the minimal staff involvement in these applications.”

ARRL Volunteer Examiner Coordinator (ARRL VEC) Manager Maria Somma, AB1FM, explained that all fees are per application. “There will be no fee for administrative updates, such as a change of mailing or email address. The fees will be the responsibility of the applicant regardless of filing method and must be paid within 10 calendar days of FCC’s receipt of the application. For applications filed by a VEC, the period does not begin until the application is received by the Commission, a ULS file number assigned, and an email sent by the FCC directly to the applicant.”

VECs and Volunteer Examiner (VE) teams will not collect the $35 fee at license exam sessions. New and upgrade candidates at an exam session will continue to pay the $15 exam session fee to the ARRL VE team as usual, and pay the new, $35 application fee directly to the FCC by using the CORES FRN Registration system (CORES – Login).

When the FCC receives the examination information from the VEC, it will email a link with payment instructions to each successful candidate who then will have 10 calendar days from the date of the email to pay. After the fee is paid and the FCC has processed an application, examinees will receive a second email from the FCC with a link to their official license or explanation of other action. The link will be good for 30 days.

Somma also explained that applications that are processed and dismissed will not be entitled to a refund. This includes vanity call sign requests where the applicant does not receive the requested call sign. “The FCC staff has suggested that applicants for vanity call signs should first ensure the call signs requested are available and eligible for their operator class and area, and then request as many call signs as the form allows to maximize their chances of receiving a call sign.”

Further information and instructions about the FCC Application Fee are available from the ARRL VEC at www.arrl.org/fcc-application-fee. Details for the ARRL Youth Licensing Grant Program will be similarly posted there, when available.

Comment Period to be Re-Opened on Forest Service Fees

David Siddall, K3ZJ, writes:

The Forest Service sent a Notice to the Federal Register yesterday announcing that they will re-open the window for comments on the proposed new $1400 annual administrative fee.  This means that amateurs that may have missed the earlier comment period, or who wish to file additional arguments and information,  can submit new filings between March 1 and March 31.   A copy of the Notice to be published on March 1 is here: https://public-inspection.federalregister.gov/2022-04254.pdf.  (This is completely public information.)

I notice that in several of the amateur comments sent me that there appears some confusion.  The proposed fee is a new and separate fee, not an increase to fees (such as rent) already being paid.  If adopted, the existing fee(s) – which generally have been around $130-140 annually for amateur uses – would have to be paid in addition to the new proposed annual administrative fee of $1400.  IMHO, the fee would be so high because the proposal is to include amateur uses equally with those of commercial wireless entities such as broadcasters, cellular providers and broadband entities that require a much more significant presence and greater Forest Service support than amateurs.  

[ARRL’s filed comments can be viewed at <https://www.regulations.gov/comment/FS-2022-0001-0749>.]

[Note: Beginning March 1, 2022, comments can be filed at <https://www.regulations.gov/document/FS-2022-0001-0001>.]

See also: ARRL to Oppose Forest Service Administative Fees for Amateur Facilities

Amateur Radio in Ukraine Ordered Off the Air in State of Emergency

Ukrainian flagFrom ARRL Web:
 
02/24/2022 – A state of emergency was declared in Ukraine just prior to the Russian military invasion. Among other things, the February 24 decree from President Volodymyr Zelensky will remain in effect at least for 30 days and may be extended. As published on the website of the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s unicameral legislative body, the state of emergency includes regulation of TV and radio activities and “a ban on the operation amateur radio transmitters for personal and collective use.”The decree also imposes a ban on mass events and on strikes and authorizes checking the documents of citizens, and if necessary, conducting searches on persons, vehicles, cargo, office space, and housing. A curfew could be imposed. “The situation changes rapidly,” IARU Region 1 Secretary Mats Espling, SM6EAN, said. “IARU Region 1 continues to monitor the development and expect all radio amateurs to follow their national laws and regulations.” 

 
 

FCC: Amateur Service Licensees May Not Use Radio Equipment to Commit Criminal Acts

FCC sealFrom ARRL Web:
 
02/24/2022 – The FCC Enforcement Bureau has re-issued an earlier reminder that licensees in the Amateur Radio Service, as well as licensees and operators in the Personal Radio Services are prohibited from using radios in those services to commit or facilitate criminal acts. The FCC did not indicate what, if anything, prompted the renewed Enforcement Advisory or if it was just a routine announcement.“The Bureau recognizes that these services can be used for a wide range of permitted and socially beneficial purposes, including emergency communications and speech that is protected under the First Amendment of the US Constitution,” the FCC said. “Amateur and Personal Radio Services, however, may not be used to commit or facilitate crimes.”

As it did in advisories in 2021, the Enforcement Bureau is reminding amateur licensees that they may not transmit, “communications intended to facilitate a criminal act” or “messages encoded for the purpose of obscuring their meaning.”

“Likewise, individuals operating radios in the Personal Radio Services, a category that includes Citizens Band radios, Family Radio Service walkie-talkies, and General Mobile Radio Service, are prohibited from using those radios “in connection with any activity which is against Federal, State or local law.

“Individuals using radios in the Amateur or Personal Radio Services in this manner may be subject to severe penalties, including significant fines, seizure of the offending equipment, and, in some cases, criminal prosecution.

“To report a crime, contact your local law enforcement office or the FBI,” the FCC advised.

 

 

Update on New Hampshire HB1644 update February 18, 2022

NH State House, ConcordNew Hampshire Section Manager Pete Stohrer, K1PJS, writes to the NH ARRL Members List:

On Thursday February 17th the NH House voted 245 to 104 to send HB1644 to interim study. This effectively kills the bill for this legislative session. The bill would have required 5G telecommunication antenna to be placed at least 1,640 feet from residentially zoned areas, parks, playgrounds, hospitals, nursing homes, day care centers, and schools. In addition, an online registry would have been created to allow residents who are experiencing biological symptoms from wireless radiation exposure to list their relevant information.

Although the bill was aimed primarily at wireless 5G applications, enough ambiguity in the wording raised legitimate concerns of the unintended consequences to other non 5G radio services including amateur radio.

Interim study will take a serious look at the problems with the bill and NH Leadership will be ready to offer testimony to protect amateur radio interests if needed. Further information will be made available to our NH ARRL membership as it becomes available. Section would like to thank the many NH amateur operators who provided written testimony to their legislators against HB1644

——————————————————————–
ARRL New Hampshire Section
Section Manager: Peter J Stohrer, K1PJS
k1pjs@arrl.org
——————————————————————–

New Hampshire HB1644 follow-up, February 10, 2022

NH State House, ConcordNew Hampshire Section Manager Peter J Stohrer, K1PJS, writes on the NH ARRL Members List:

A bill (HB1644) limiting the use of 5G applications in certain areas of NH along with the creation of a RF Radiation Exposure Registry was recently introduced to the NH House. Because of the confusing nature of the bill and conflicting testimony the Science, Technology and Energy Committee overseeing the bill voted 17 to 4 to recommend to the House that the bill be sent to interim study.  If this recommendation is adopted by the full House, likely next week, this bill will be dead for all intents and purposes for this biennium.  A committee will be established, conduct a review, and receive public testimony over the summer and make a recommendation whether legislation of this nature is warranted or not. NH ARRL Leadership will be attending the meetings.

 HB1644 in its current form will have unintended consequences far beyond 5G applications impacting all forms of wireless communications including amateur radio. NE Director Kemmerer, the NH Section Manager, and State Government Liaison met to discuss the issue and we encourage League members to contact their state representative to support the committee recommendation to send the bill to interim study. You can locate the email address of your representative by going to the following link:

http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/house/members/

The full House meets on February 16th so now is the time to contact your legislator.

You can read the bill in its entirety:

http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/bill_Status/billinfo.aspx?id=1725&inflect=2

——————————————————————–
ARRL New Hampshire Section
Section Manager: Peter J Stohrer, K1PJS
k1pjs@arrl.org
——————————————————————–

Legislative Support Requested for Connecticut Amateur Radio Call Plates for Classic Vehicles

Conn. Classic Vehicle License Plate sampleMike Gruber, W1MG, writes:

“I’ve been working with my Connecticut State Senator to help make Amateur Radio call plates (and Purple Heart plates) available for Classic Vehicle plates in Connecticut. 

“At this point, he has sent this to the General Assembly’s Transportation Committee for consideration.  This is a joint committee of legislatures, and they would be responsible for drafting the required amendment. The General Assembly (Connecticut’s legislature) meets in February so time is of the essence. 

“At this point, the Senator’s aide has suggested that interested and concerned persons should contact members of the Transportation Committee to voice their support for this amendment.  I had hoped to get some publicity for this from the ARRL but so far haven’t heard anything. <…> If there is any interest at the ARRL in this, please let me know.”

Interested parties are encouraged to contact their CT state representatives–especially if they sit on the Transportation Committee.

[Please see Mike Gruber’s synopsis and  Sen. Kissel’s letter to the Committee leadership.]