ARRL Executive Committee Examines BPL Issues, Regulatory Matters, Electronic Balloting, More
The ARRL Executive Committee (EC) held its second 2011 meeting Saturday, October 1 in Dulles, Virginia. The EC administers the League’s affairs in between Board meetings. It consists of the President (Kay Craigie, N3KN), five Directors elected annually by the Board, and -- without vote – the First Vice President (Rick Roderick, K5UR) and Chief Executive Officer (David Sumner, K1ZZ). For 2011 the Director members are Tom Frenaye, K1KI (New England), Dick Isely, W9GIG (Central), Brian Mileshosky, N5ZGT (Rocky Mountain), Bob Vallio, W6RGG (Pacific) and Dr David Woolweaver, K5RAV (West Gulf). Also in attendance at the meeting were Second Vice President Bruce Frahm, K0BJ, International Affairs Vice President Jay Bellows, K0QB, and General Counsel Chris Imlay, W3KD.
FCC and Regulatory Matters
BPL Issues: More than three years have passed since the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit found that the FCC violated the Administrative Procedure Act when it adopted rules governing broadband over power line (BPL) systems. General Counsel Imlay told the EC that the FCC is “long overdue” in releasing a Report and Order to correct the deficiencies in its BPL regulations. According to Imlay, a draft Report and Order is reportedly circulating among the Commissioners, but is not expected to be adopted soon.
Imlay also pointed out that FCC is also lax in bringing enforcement action against operating BPL systems that have been shown to be operating in violation of the existing rules. Members of the EC agreed that it is time to request another round of meetings with the FCC Commissioners or their senior staff to press these issues.
RM-11353: Imlay said that the FCC is soon expected to release a Report and Order in regards to the ARRL’s Petition for Rulemaking (RM-11353) that sought revised and additional privileges for amateurs on specific channels near 5 MHz, including a 3 dB increase. In its 2006 Petition, the ARRL had sought modest improvements in operating privileges in the 60 meter band, which presently consists of five channels on which General, Advanced and Amateur Extra class licensees may use upper sideband (USB) emission and no more than 50 W effective radiated power (ERP) relative to a dipole antenna. Imlay said that it is anticipated that CW, PSK31 and Pactor-III emissions will be authorized, but on a single frequency in each channel. This restriction is said to be necessary in order to meet the operational requirements of the primary service, and amateurs are obliged to accept it.
Medical Body Worn Area Networks (MBANs): The ARRL is monitoring the progress of a proposal for Medical Body Worn Area Networks (MBANs) in the 2360-2400 MHz band, which overlaps the amateur allocation of 2390-2400 MHz. Such devices do not have major potential to cause harmful interference but could be susceptible to nearby transmitters. International standards are being developed that could point toward alternative allocations. In December 2007, GE Healthcare filed ex parte comments in response to a Notice of Inquiry (NOI) in the pending “MedRadio” proceeding, proposing that 2360-2400 MHz be allocated on a secondary basis for Body Sensor Networks (BSNs). These systems are apparently to be used for wireless patient monitoring. They are very short-range networks consisting of multiple body-worn sensors and nodes, connected via wireless to nearby hub stations at medical facilities and in homes. The Amateur Radio Service is currently allocated 2390-2400 MHz on a primary basis.
MotoTRBO: Imlay told the EC that he is preparing an amendment to the waiver request filed by ARRL for FCC authorization to use Motorola MotoTRBO TDMA VHF/UHF equipment in the Amateur Radio Service, because the original waiver request did not go quite far enough. In March 2011, the ARRL filed a Petition for Rulemaking and a Request for Temporary Waiver to authorize the use of single-time-slot Time Division Multiple Access (TDMA) emissions in the amateur bands at and above 50 MHz, wherever multiple-time-slot TDMA is authorized. The Petition asks the FCC to allow those amateurs who are presently using a Motorola narrowband (12.5 kHz) digital land mobile system -- commercially marketed as MotoTRBO -- to be used legally. Because of some restrictions in the Part 97 rules, the TDMA repeaters (which are multiple-time-slot devices) are legal, but the mobiles and portables are not because the emissions used (single-time-slot TDMA) are not authorized anywhere, due to the emission designator.
Remote VE Test Sessions: The FCC has granted three waivers to permit a small number of Amateur Radio examinations to be conducted with one Volunteer Examiner physically present and others proctoring remotely by video conference. It is anticipated that a Petition for Rule Making will be filed by a party other than the ARRL that seeks to expand this. This matter will be presented to the ARRL Board of Directors at its 2012 Annual Meeting in January with the objective of having the Board determine the League’s policy on the issue.
Other FCC Matters: Imlay reported the status of various pending FCC proceedings. He noted that the comment period on the Draft Programmatic Environmental Assessment of the Antenna Structure Registration Program (WT Docket Nos. 08-61 and 03-187) has been extended to November 2, 2011. The FCC has not issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in response to RM-11629, a petition filed by Anchorage VEC seeking exam element credit for expired amateur licenses. President Craigie observed that the Petition should be brought to the attention of the Board so an ARRL position can be formulated. Imlay also provided a list of pending FCC items on which no action has been reported since the July Board meeting.
Electronic Balloting: Chief Executive Officer Sumner presented a report on how electronic voting could be implemented in future ARRL elections. Discussions with potential vendors have identified one that appears to have the capability to conduct hybrid voting: Electronic voting by those members who have provided the ARRL with e-mail addresses and voting by paper ballot by the remaining members. In regard to Division Director and Vice Director elections, the cost would be comparable to the cost of the current voting system for contested elections; however, the cost of conducting elections for Section Manager would be significantly greater than the current system, particularly for the smaller Sections. With this in mind, EC members agreed not to pursue electronic voting in Section elections at this time.
Sumner noted that in order for electronic voting to be implemented in the fall 2012 Division elections, amendments to several Bylaws will have to be made by the Board of Directors at its January 2012 meeting. He recommended that a small drafting group be established to prepare the necessary amendments. Should the Board approve the amendments in January, there will be sufficient time to complete arrangements with a vendor prior to the fall election cycle.
Strategic Planning: President Craigie led a discussion of possible improvements in ARRL’s strategic planning process. There was general agreement that in the next round of strategic planning, it is not desirable to follow recent practice and that some changes need to be made. As a next step, Chief Executive Officer Sumner was asked to investigate the current state of the art for strategic planning by large membership associations and to report back to the Executive Committee prior to the January 2012 Board meeting.
The following 2012 conventions were approved:
- Northern Florida Section, February 10-12, 2012: Orlando, Florida
- Louisiana State, March 9-10, 2012: Rayne, Louisiana
- Oklahoma State, March 9-10, 2012: Claremore, Oklahoma
- Roanoke Division, March 10-11, 2012: Concord, North Carolina
- Delaware State, April 21, 2012: Georgetown, Delaware
- Texas State, August 2-3, 2013: Austin, Texas
The EC also recognized 193 recently elected Life Members. Their names will appear in December 2011 issue of QST.
According to the ARRL Articles of Association, the EC meets during the intervals between meetings of the Board of Directors. It meets at the call of the President, but no less often than semi-annually; the last meeting of the EC was March 19, 2011. According to the ARRL By-Laws, the Executive Committee is assigned specific responsibility for:
- Applying existing Board policy to make decisions between Board meetings.
- Evaluating proposed rules and regulatory changes for the Board.
- Assisting staff and General Counsel in Board recommendations for petitions to the FCC and other governmental and international agencies.
- Periodically reviewing and recommending to the Board any changes in the ARRL Articles of Association, By-Laws, Standing Orders, and Memoranda of Understanding with other organizations.
- Monitoring progress of Board actions and recommendations (task tracking).
- Monitoring progress of the implementation of, and suggesting ongoing revisions to, the ARRL Strategic Plan, working in conjunction with Standing Committees as appropriate.
- Reviewing and recommending programs designed to represent the organization to the public, enhance the organization’s image, and communicate with the media.