FCC Fee Opposition – now is the time!

From: ARRL Members Only Web site <memberlist@www.arrl.org>
Date: October 17, 2020 at 09:57:19 CDT
To: 
Subject: FCC Fee Opposition – now is the time! The amateur radio fee proposal has been published in the Federal
Register.

https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2020/10/15/2020-21530/schedule-of-application-fees

Now that it is published, it is time to comment on the FCC website:

https://www.fcc.gov/ecfs/search/filings?proceedings_name=20-270

AND, if you wish, reference the Federal Register, and send your comments
to your elected representatives and the President.

THERE ARE FEWER THAN 30 DAYS TO COMMENT. PLEASE DO THIS NOW!

The Priority is getting comments filed with the FCC.


ARRL Washington Counsel David Siddall, K3ZJ, has suggested the following
arguments:

Arguments Against FCC Fees for Radio Amateurs

1. Amateurs contribute to the public good. In many areas they provide an
emergency communications backbone capability at no taxpayer cost.
Consistently we have witnessed storms and natural disasters completely
wipe out internet, cellular, and other means of communication.  Radio
amateurs often fill that void on an unmatched, flexible basis when
needed.  One recent example is the California wildfires.  

2. Unlike operators in other FCC licensed services, Amateur Radio
operators by law – domestic and international — must eschew using
their license for any pecuniary interest.  Amateurs are prohibited from
earning or charging any money for any communications activity.  The
expenses for their equipment and activities come out of their own
pockets, with no opportunity for reimbursement or payment of any kind.

3. The United States is experiencing a severe lack of RF engineers and
expertise at the very time it is needed by the burgeoning wireless
industries.    Amateur radio is helping to meet the deficit, but much
more is needed and youngsters (High School and College-aged) are least
able to afford licensing fees.  RF knowledge and related digital
expertise is needed to maintain U.S. leadership in wireless industries.
At a minimum, young people (below the age of 26) should be exempt from
the proposed license fees.

4. Amateur radio is self-regulating.  (a) Amateur examinations are
written and administered by radio amateur volunteers.  (b) Examination
results and paperwork most often are submitted electronically to the
FCC.  Electronic submission could be required if there would be a cost
savings to the Commission. (c) Amateur radio educational classes are
conducted by volunteers who by-and-large do not charge fees or tuition
for teaching.  (d) The amateur service, in cooperation with the FCC’s
Enforcement Bureau, has a volunteer corp that monitors the amateur
airwaves and has programs that try to prevent their misuse before FCC
involvement might be needed.  The amateurs also observe non-amateur
signals both within amateur spectrum and outside it, and report unusual
or suspicious signals.

5. Amateur radio continues to be a source of significant technological
innovation that should be encouraged, not discouraged.

Some Suggestions

I do not recommend arguing that the $50. fee every 10 years, which
amounts to $5.00 a year, will “kill” amateur radio, even though as
proposed this is for each covered application, which includes upgrade
applications.  Tech-General-Extra  could be $150. if exams taken at
different sessions, a substantial amount.  But it “rings” the wrong
way to say the whole service turns on $5./year for each licensee. If
that’s all it would take ….

The Commission argues that the charges are required by the statute.  The
word used is “shall”, which is mandatory, not optional.  But the
statute does not set the amount, nor does it prohibit reasonable
exceptions – evidenced by the Commission’s proposal to exempt from
fees administrative update applications based on policy grounds.

This is not “aimed at amateur radio to kill it.”  There is a long
history and precedent on charging fees for the licensing service
involved, just as there is for passports, green cards, drivers licenses
(issued by states), etc.  Better to make pertinent arguments on why the
fees would impair the public benefits of the amateur radio service than
argue that the whole service might die as a result of a fee that, in
fact, is less than the fee many of us paid in the 1960’s and 1970’s,
including myself as a struggling high school and college student (if
adjusted for inflation).

For background: this proceeding is being handled by staff unfamiliar
with amateur radio.  It is being handled in the FCC’s Office of
Managing Director (OMD), not in the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau
where the amateur-specific Part 97 matters are handled.  The focus of
OMD is accounting – budgets and the like for the entire Commission.
The fee proposals cover every FCC license and service across the board
and the consideration was directed by Congress.  I recommend keeping
“ham jargon” out of comments, it won’t be understood by the
intended recipients.”

73,

——————————————————————–
ARRL Southeastern Division
Director: Mickey V Baker, N4MB
n4mb@arrl.org

Input requested concerning license training — are we dinosaurs?

NOARC members,
The Education and Training Committee is evaluating our methods of providing training for the Technician, General, and Extra licenses.  We are concerned that, in this age of virtual instruction in our schools, our training methods may be outdated.  (Are we dinosaurs?)  We’re asking if there are ways we could better server our community, and we need your input.
The schedule driver is a potential General class that would start in January 2021.  If we are to hold classes in our normal, live-instruction forum, the Committee needs to start making preparations in early November.  Since the General books and question bank have changed since the last time we taught the subject, this will involve substantial effort prior to the class.
We presented our concerns at the October business meeting, and the slides from that presentation are attached.  In a nutshell, we need to decide what training NOARC should be doing in the future

The options are:
1.  Continue to provide live classes, either in-person (Covid permitting) or remotely (via Zoom).

2.  Refer potential students to recorded classes, and concentrate on being Elmers for questions and for getting started operating after the exam is passed.

3.  Do no instruction or Elmering, just testing.


We need input on your point of view.  We would like you to answer the following questions:
1.  How did you study for your license?  What method (class, self-study, YouTube, whatever) worked best for you?  Why?
2.  Do you think NOARC should continue the current method of instruction?  What changes would you recommend?
3.  Have you served as an instructor for a NOARC class?
4.  Have you been an Elmer for a new licensee within the last three years?


Bruce (KA5DLV) and I (W4BZM) would welcome input via whatever method is best for you — verbal, e-mail, discussion on a web page post or Facebook, via 147.36 after the GCVTN, notes passed on a napkin, whatever. 

We’d like to have your input by 23 October.  PLEASE don’t put this in the “I’ll get around to it” or “let somebody else do it, I don’t care” stack.  

Link to Document


Thank you, in advance, for you help.  
73, Mike W4BZM

UPCOMING EXAM – 11/07/2020

There will be an amateur radio exam on Saturday, November 07th, 9:00 am  start,  likely Building D, at Live Oak Baptist Church, 4565 Live Oak Church Road, in Crestview, FL 32539.

Please arrive about 8:30 or a little after.  The fee is $10.00 cash, check or Money Order; if writing a check, make it out to WCARS/VEC.

Unlicensed applicants must have an FRN (Federal Registration Number); Social Security Numbers are no longer allowed.  Obtain your FRN before the exam, from the FCC site at https://www.fcc.gov/wireless/systems-utilities/universal-licensing-system (New User Registration link)

Masks will be required, and we will adhere to the CDC’s six-foot social distancing recommendation.  If you have a special need physically, let us know early, and we will do our best to accommodate you.

Applicants must preregister to me directly, or send a note to me via the club website CONTACT US tab at W4AAZ.com. Space will be limited.

END

FCC Proposes to Reinstate Amateur Radio Service Fees

08/28/2020

Amateur radio licensees would pay a $50 fee for each amateur radio license application if the FCC adopts rules it proposed this week. Included in the FCC’s fee proposal are applications for new licenses, renewal and upgrades to existing licenses, and vanity call sign requests. Excluded are applications for administrative updates, such as changes of address, and annual regulatory fees.

The FCC proposal is contained in a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in MD Docket 20-270, which was adopted to implement portions of the “Repack Airwaves Yielding Better Access for Users of Modern Services Act” of 2018 — the so-called “Ray Baum’s Act.”

The Act requires that the FCC switch from a Congressionally-mandated fee structure to a cost-based system of assessment. In its NPRM, the FCC proposed application fees for a broad range of services that use the FCC’s Universal Licensing System (ULS), including the Amateur Radio Service that had been excluded by an earlier statute. The 2018 statute excludes the Amateur Service from annual regulatory fees, but not from application fees.

“[A]pplications for personal licenses are mostly automated and do not have individualized staff costs for data input or review,” the FCC said in its NPRM. “For these automated processes — new/major modifications, renewal, and minor modifications — we propose a nominal application fee of $50 due to automating the processes, routine ULS maintenance, and limited instances where staff input is required.”

The same $50 fee would apply to all Amateur Service applications, including those for vanity call signs. “Although there is currently no fee for vanity call signs in the Amateur Radio Service, we find that such applications impose similar costs in aggregate on Commission resources as new applications and therefore propose a $50 fee,” the FCC said.

The FCC is not proposing to charge for administrative updates, such as mailing address changes for amateur applications, and amateur radio will remain exempt from annual regulatory fees. “For administrative updates [and] modifications, which also are highly automated, we find that it is in the public interest to encourage licensees to update their [own] information without a charge,” the FCC said.

The FCC also proposes to assess a $50 fee for individuals who want a printed copy of their license. “The Commission has proposed to eliminate these services — but to the extent the Commission does not do so, we propose a fee of $50 to cover the costs of these services,” the FCC said.

The Ray Baum’s Act does not exempt filing fees in the Amateur Radio Service. The FCC dropped assessment of fees for vanity call signs several years ago.

Deadlines for comments and reply comments will be determined once the NPRMappears in the Federal Register. File comments by using the FCC’s Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS), posting to MD Docket No. 20-270. This docket is already open for accepting comments even though deadlines have not yet been set.  [from W4BZM via ARRL]

New QTH for KN4UDV

Jim Mc Clure and Rich Girardin work at the club station.

Many of you know Jim McClure, KN4UDV, as the motorcycle-rider with the handlebar mustache.  Jim sends that he will soon be moving to Colorado Springs to be with his daughter and son-in-law.  He asked us to tell the NOARC members that he has enjoyed the chance to get to know all of you and that he will especially miss the opportunities for contesting with everyone.  He will still be receiving text at his current phone number and email at his current address, and hopes to work some of the members again on HF from Colorado Springs. [relayed via W4BZM]

Results from 8/10/2020 Exam

The exam on August 10 had 14 applicants, 12 of which were from the class. Nine of the 14 got the Technician licenses, one got the General upgrade, and one person went from zero to Extra.   The VEs were KA5DLV, KM4OZK, KL7LS, AJ4XK, KJ4RWD, KK4WDQ and W4BZM.


The list follows: 


Christopher Bolin KO4GDR Tech; Suzanne Cain KO4GDS Tech; David Cook KY4AI Extra; David Craft KO4GDT Tech; Mackenzie Holliday KO4FUU to General; Scott Friesen KO4GDU Tech; Christoper Kelly KO4GDV Tech; James King KO4GDW Tech; William King KO4GDX Tech; Katherine Talley KO4GDY Tech; Michael Williams KO4GDZ Tech


Congratulations to all of the new hams, upgrades, instructors and VEs.

CRESTVIEW UNITY FLASHLIGHT WALK

The Club President was asked in early February by Police Chief Steven McCosker for the club to assist his officers with the first Unity Flashlight Walk. The 1.2 mile walk (5:45 pm on February 29, 2020) in downtown Crestview requested we be their “eyes and ears” while the patrol officers walked with residents as a sign of solidarity of community strength and unity. The hams were to be aided by Okaloosa Sheriff and other community volunteers. As the last marchers passed each of 14 checkpoints (street intersections), horse-type barricades would be removed and we were to be released.

The club was allowed to setup a tent (net control point) at the start/finish of the walk, which was City Hall. There was also one ham “ bicycle mobile” as a roamer. The net was run on 447.000 Mhz.

Thanks to the hams the participated: KM4OZK as a community walker; KI4MEU, KM4YOH, N4DPM, KF6LEC, KI4ZIH, KJ4PIU, KM4SPJ, KI4ZER and friend, KN4UDS and daughter, KF4RAF, KA5DLV, KM4SRO and wife, KI5FR, WB4EWS, KJ4FNA, AK4XK, KL7LS, KK4WDQ and KO4AFZ.

Thanks to Mayor JB Whitten and Chief McCosker for attending our meeting and presenting their request.

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NOARC Receives Appreciation from City of Crestview

On Monday, October 21, 2019, the Mayor and Crestview City Council wanted to extend appreciation to the clubs and organizations in the city for their work. NOARC was invited to attend the modified City Council meeting, where approximately thirty organizations gave two-minute talks on their organization.

Bruce Adams spoke for our club. He mentioned the FCC mandate of being “a voluntary non-commercial radio service, with emphasis on emergency communications”; that the club is 41 years old this month; and also mentioned some of the public service work that is provided in the city and county.

Flyers were available for those interested in more information, plus the club’s website was delivered in the presentation. Again, NOARC thanks the Mayor and the City for the recognition.

Photo: (left to right) Alex Barthe’, Steve Strom, Bruce Adams, and Jim Morrison. Not pictured are Juanita and Craig Young, and Bob and Sally Walker. Photo by Robb Sugg.

Exam Results

Two applicants were tested on 8/5/2019, with David, KM5AT passing his Extra.  He was licensed previously as an Advanced. 

Others helping with the session were W4BZM, KI5FR, AJ4XK, KL7LS, KJ4RWD AND KK4WDQ.  New member and new ham Bob, KN4UDT, assisted with setup and crowd control.  He plans on becoming a VE within the next year. 

Thanks to Live Oak Baptist Church, NOARC, the applicants, and most of all the other VEs.   A special thanks to Ron for getting the Fellowship Hall.

Bruce
KA5DLV