ARLB011: Updated Radio Frequency Exposure Rules Become Effective on May 3

FCC sealThe FCC has announced that rule changes detailed in a lengthy 2019 Report and Order governing RF exposure standards go into effect on May 3, 2021. The new rules do not change existing RF exposure (RFE) limits but do require that stations in all services, including amateur radio, be evaluated against existing limits, unless they are exempted. For stations already in place, that evaluation must be completed by May 3, 2023. After May 3 of this year, any new station, or any existing station modified in a way that’s likely to change its RFE profile – such as different antenna or placement or greater power – will need to conduct an evaluation by the date of activation or change.

The Report and Order can be found online in PDF format at, <https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/FCC-19-126A1.pdf>.

“In the RF Report and Order, the Commission anticipated that few parties would have to conduct reevaluations under the new rules and that such evaluations will be relatively straightforward,” the FCC said in an April 2 Public Notice. “It nevertheless adopted a 2-year period for parties to verify and ensure compliance under the new rules.”

The Amateur Service is no longer categorically excluded from certain aspects of the rules, as amended, and licensees can no longer avoid performing an exposure assessment simply because they are transmitting below a given power level.

“For most amateurs, the major difference is the removal of the categorical exclusion for amateur radio, which means that ham station owners must determine if they either qualify for an exemption or must perform a routine environmental evaluation,” said Greg Lapin, N9GL, chair of the ARRL RF Safety Committee and a member of the FCC Technological Advisory Council (TAC).

“Ham stations previously excluded from performing environmental evaluations will have until May 3, 2023, to perform these. After May 3, 2021, any new stations or those modified in a way that affects RF exposure must comply before being put into service,” Lapin said.

The December 2019 RF Report and Order changes the methods that many radio services use to determine and achieve compliance with FCC limits on human exposure to RF electromagnetic fields. The FCC also modified the process for determining whether a particular device or deployment is exempt from a more thorough analysis by replacing a service-specific list of transmitters, facilities, and operations for which evaluation is required with new streamlined formula-based criteria. The R&O also addressed how to perform evaluations where the exemption does not apply, and how to mitigate exposure.

Amateur radio licensees will have to determine whether any existing facilities previously excluded under the old rules now qualify for an exemption under the new rules. Most will, but some may not.

“For amateurs, the major difference is the removal of the categorical exclusion,” Lapin said, “which means that every ham will be required to perform some sort of calculation, either to determine if they qualify for an exemption or must perform a full-fledged exposure assessment. For hams who previously performed exposure assessments on their stations, there is nothing more to do.”

The ARRL Laboratory staff is available to help amateurs to make these determinations and, if needed, perform the necessary calculations to ensure their stations comply. ARRL Laboratory Manager Ed Hare, W1RFI, who helped prepare ARRL’s RF Exposure and You book, explained it this way. “The FCC did not change any of the underlying rules applicable to amateur station evaluations,” he said. “The sections of the book on how to perform routine station evaluations are still valid and usable, especially the many charts of common antennas at different heights.” Hare said ARRL Lab staff also would be available to help amateurs understand the rules and evaluate their stations.”

RF Exposure and You is available in PDF format for free download from ARRL at, <http://www.arrl.org/files/file/Technology/RFsafetyCommittee/28RFSafety.pdf>.

ARRL also has an RF Safety page on its website at,<http://www.arrl.org/rf-exposure>.

The ARRL RF Safety Committee is working with the FCC to update the FCC’s aids for following human exposure rules – OET Bulletin 65 and OET Bulletin 65 Supplement B for Radio Amateurs. In addition, ARRL is developing tools that all hams can use to perform exposure assessments.

New Hampshire “Antenna Bill” H.B. 313 Fails in Committee

NH State House, ConcordNew Hampshire House Bill 313, “Relative to property restrictions on certain amateur radio antennas,” failed to reconsider by voice vote on April 7, 2021, according to FastDemocracy.com.
 
The bill was originally heard before the House Commerce Committee on January 26, 2021. Over 100 amateurs went on record to support the bill. 

N.H. House Bill 313 would have allowed:

• Antennas similar or identical to those for satellite TV dishes, broadcast TV, or broadband internet
• single wire or minimally visible antennas
• antennas raised only in darkness
• antennas no higher than 33 feet (i.e., lower than the roof line), and
• the use of a flag pole as an antenna

on land where the homeowner already had the right to exclude others, and would have required safe construction, with municipal approval.

“Another shot is possible in 2022, but it will need to be a much more modest bill to have any chance at passage,” writes former N.H. House Representative Bill Ohm, W1OHM.  “My recommendation is to just permit dual use of an existing structure, like a flagpole. Down the road, in subsequent years, incremental progress can be attempted to permit other structures.”
 
See also:
 

Amateur Radio Fee Collection Schedule

FCC sealContrary to what you may have heard or read, the collection of application fees for the amateur radio service and certain other services will NOT begin  on April 19, 2021.
 
Although April 19, 2021 is the date the rules in the FCC Report and Order adopted last December generally take effect – i.e., one month after the R&O was published in the March 19, 2021 Federal Register – certain parts of those rules, including collection of the application fees for the amateur radio service, will NOT begin on that date. 
 
The effective date for new amateur radio fees has not yet been established. The FCC explicitly states in the published Notice that the fees will not take effect until:
     *  the requisite notice has been provided to Congress; AND
     *  the FCC’s information technology systems and internal procedures have been updated; AND
     *  the Commission publishes future notice(s) in the Federal Register announcing the effective date of such rules.
 
The League’s counsel for FCC matters estimates that the effective start date for collecting the fees will be some time this summer, but regardless of the exact timing we will have advance notice.

“Over neighbors’ objections, Shelburne, VT operator gets the green light for ham radio towers”

Photo of Zachary Manganello, K1ZK, in his ham shack
Zachary Manganello, K1ZK

SHELBURNE, VERMONT – One-on-one talks with fellow amateur radio operators as far away as Moscow are now firmly on the horizon for a Shelburne man.

The erection of two antenna towers on Zachary Mangenello’s rural property on Dorset Street — a source of contention with his neighbors for at least a year — was approved by the Telecommunications Review Board this week…

[Burlington Free Press: “Over neighbors’ objections, Shelburne, VT operator gets the green light for ham radio towers“]

 

ARRL Board Considers Plan to Cover New $35 FCC Fee for Some Young Members

ARRL logoAt its Annual Meeting in January, the ARRL Board of Directors considered a motion to offer a new plan that would pay the new but not-yet-implemented $35 FCC application fee for a limited number of new radio amateurs younger than age 18 who, at the time of testing, belonged to an ARRL Affiliated 501(c)(3) charitable organization and passed their tests through an ARRL VEC-sponsored exam session. The proposal called for reducing the VEC fee for these candidates to $5. The initial proposal came from ARRL Southeastern Division Director Mickey Baker, N4MB. Other Board members offered subsidiary motions. Supporters said the purpose behind the motion was to ameliorate the potential financial hardship the pending FCC application fee posed on certain minors applying for their first license, and to encourage new youth membership. [Full story]

 

K4ZDH: “ARRL Volunteer Monitor Program” at RATPAC, February 10, 2021

RATPAC logoPlease plan to attend Wednesday’s February 10 Zoom presentation. 

10:00 PM AST / 9:00 PM EST / 8:00 PM CST / 7:00 PM MST / 6:00 PM PST / 5:00 PM AKST / 4:00 PM HST

 Topic: ARRL Volunteer Monitors (VM) program 

 Speaker/Presenter:  Riley Hollingsworth, K4ZDH 
 Riley K4ZDH oversees the ARRL Volunteer Monitors Development and Implementation

This meeting will be OPEN for all to attend. Please feel free to invite others.

Hey folks: These Zoom sessions are left open after the presentation. 

After the Zoom presentation has been closed, sign back into Zoom to visit.

  • This meeting will be recorded. By participating you consent to being recorded. 
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Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/2128884758?pwd=V3Z0VFcvclhkbVpvOG9IenFkK1BUQT09

Meeting ID: 212 888 4758
Passcode: VMPROGRAM

NH Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions Requested re NH H.B. 313

New England Division Director Fred Hopengarten, K1VR, writes:

The hearing on the NH HB 313 bill yesterday [see “New Hampshire H.B. 313 Initial Committee Hearing, January 26, 2021“] made it plain that I should collect NH Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs) from people who live in homeowner association communities or condos.

Can you send me your PDF or Word version of CC&Rs from NH? I need as many as possible, to show the Commerce Committee how ridiculous they can be.

Here’s one excerpt I saw yesterday (but I want complete versions):

“4. Transmission antennas are prohibited.”

Think about that. It bans cell phones, baby monitors, garage door openers, and 2 m HTs!

Can you help me round up some CC&Rs from NH?

 

Fred Hopengarten, Esq.   K1VR
Six Willarch Road
Lincoln, MA 01773
781.259.0088
k1vr@arrl.org

New Hampshire H.B. 313 Initial Committee Hearing, January 26, 2021

 

UPDATE: Former N.H. Rep. Bill Ohm, W1OHM, writes:

“Nice work on getting 100 hams to go on the record in support.  This is very unusual in committee and got noticed. … I think the committee decision will weigh the value of having trained radio operators ready to be deployed in an emergency.  The large number of hams submitting their support reinforces their interest in public service. … I expect the bill will be referred to a subcommittee to work on the concerns.  If a quick comprise can be reached, then they can draft a committee amendment for that compromise and send it to the full House for a vote.  Otherwise it will be retained in committee for work later in the year (best case) or simply voted out of committee as ITL, Inexpedient to Legislate.  It will then be voted down by the full Legislature in quick order.”

 
Fred Hopengarten, K1VR, writes:
 
“I write to encourage favorable consideration of HB 313, to benefit the radio amateurs of New Hampshire, the people who provide emergency communications between hospitals, and train the next generation of technologists who will grow the New Hampshire economy. There are ~5700 radio hams in NH, and most of them who live in a Homeowner Association- controlled property find it impossible to put up an outdoor antenna for ham radio, even though federal law, the Over-the-Air-Reception-Devices rule (the FCC OTARD Rule), already allows outdoor antennas that are virtually identical to those allowed under this bill. Please note: This proposal does not allow towers.

This bill would allow:

• Antennas similar or identical to those for satellite TV dishes, broadcast TV, or broadband internet.
• Single wire or minimally visible antennas,
• Antennas raised only in darkness,
• Antennas no higher than 33 feet (i.e., lower than the roof line), and
• The use of a flag pole as an antenna.

It would only allow antennas on land where the homeowner already has the\ right to exclude others, and it requires safe construction, with municipal approval.

Here’s the procedure to testify in favor of the Amateur Radio bill, HB 313, being heard in the Commerce Committee today.

Go to this link: http://gencourt.state.nh.us/house/committees/remotetestimony/default.aspx

• Select the date of the hearing as January 26
• Select the committee as “Commerce” (first pick)
• Select the bill, H.B. 313
• Select “I am a member of the public”
• Select, “I am representing myself”
• Indicate your position, “I support this bill”
• Enter name, phone, and email

Decide if you want to testify (not required). If you do, speak for no more than one minute. It’s OK to just say it’s important for emergency communications to be able to communicate, and you need a simple antenna for that. And that antenna is now prohibited.

SUBMIT THE FORM BEFORE 12:30 PM TODAY. This puts your position into the public record.

It’s very important to show support from the amateur radio community. A similar bill has been in Committee before, and has died for lack of sufficient support. Consequently the Committee will be skeptical. Opponents, like the CAI (condo association lobby) will show up and testify against this bill.

Sincerely,

Fred Hopengarten, K1VR
ARRL Director
New England Division

Phil Temples, K9HI
ARRL Vice Director
New England Division

FCC Warns About Use of Ham Radio to Commit Crimes

BLOOMBERG NEWS–January 17, 2021, 10:11 AM ET

Licensed amateur and personal radio services shouldn’t be used to coordinate criminal acts, the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau warned after reports that some people were looking to radios as an alternative to social media platforms, which are being monitored by law enforcement following the deadly Jan. 6 raid on the U.S. Capitol.

“The Bureau reminds amateur licensees that they are prohibited from transmitting ‘communications intended to facilitate a criminal act’ or ‘messages encoded for the purpose of obscuring their meaning,” the agency said in a statement Sunday.

The licensees, which would include Citizens Band radios, Family Radio Service walkie-talkies, and General Mobile Radio Service, would face fines, seizure of their equipment and possible criminal prosecution.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-01-17/lin-manuel-miranda-joins-list-of-entertainers-inaugural-update

See also: FCC Enforcement Advisory