ARRL Executive Committee Focused on FCC and Regulatory Items at March Meeting
The ARRL Executive Committee (EC) held its first 2013 meeting Saturday, March 9 in Irving, Texas. The meeting’s agenda included items concerning the FCC and regulatory items, FCC enforcement, legislative issues and organizational matters.
FCC and Regulatory Matters
- Amateur Radio Enforcement: General Counsel Imlay pointed out that since the EC’s September 2012 meeting, there has been “encouraging progress” in regard to FCC enforcement activity. Two major enforcement actions -- one involving an unlicensed station interfering with amateur communications on 20 meters, and the other involving alleged jamming of public safety communications by a licensed amateur -- have been published on the ARRL website. In February, FCC Special Counsel Laura Smith attended the ARRL Southeastern Division Convention in Orlando. Shortcomings in the new FCC website continue to prevent the updating of information about amateur enforcement actions.
- ET Docket No. 12-338: The EC discussed strategies for its reply comments in ET Docket No. 12-338. In this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the FCC is proposing to change the Amateur Radio Service allocation to the 160 meter band (1800-2000 kHz), reallocating the 1900-2000 kHz segment to the Amateur Radio Service on a primary basis, and is also asking for comments on a possible new LF amateur band at 135.7-137.8 kHz (on a secondary basis). The Utilities Telecom Council and a small number of electric utilities have filed comments opposing the proposed LF allocation, but none have offered technical analysis to justify their opposition. The EC decided that the ARRL’s reply comments will emphasize that there is no justification whatsoever for not implementing the allocation and permitting its use by amateur stations operating within the limits of the international allocation, as long as the stations are located at least 1 kilometer from a PLC-bearing transmission line. For amateur stations within 1 kilometer of a transmission line, the ARRL is willing to accept a procedure for notification and coordination, as long as it does not prevent amateur stations from operating when there is no possibility of interfering with PLC.
- ET Docket No. 13-49: This Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ET Docket No. 13-49) proposes the introduction of unlicensed wireless broadband devices into the band at 5850-5925 MHz, where the Amateur Radio Service has a secondary allocation. The EC authorized General Counsel Imlay to file comments that emphasize the record of satisfactory sharing of the band with the other incumbent services by the Amateur Radio Service.
- GN Docket No. 12-91: In its report to Congress (GN Docket No. 12-91 -- also known as Uses and Capabilities of Amateur Radio Service Communications in Emergency and Disaster Relief), the FCC solicited comments as to whether its rules create impediments to enhanced Amateur Radio communications capabilities. Some commenters identified the rules that proscribe encryption as being an impediment, in view of privacy concerns and the obligations of some served agencies under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). The EC requested that Chief Executive Officer Sumner and General Counsel Imlay will prepare a briefing paper for the EC that details the significant aspects of the encryption issue by June 30.
- ET Docket No. 13-44: In a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking released February 15, the FCC proposes changes to its equipment authorization processes that would delegate even greater authority to TCBs (ET Docket No. 13-44). The EC instructed General Counsel Imlay to prepare comments emphasizing the poor record of some TCBs and the need for continued oversight by the FCC lab.
- WRC-12 MF Allocation: In November 2012, the ARRL filed a Petition for Rulemaking with the FCC seeking domestic implementation of the international amateur allocation at 472-479 kHz. The Petition was mistakenly misrouted by the Office of the Secretary to the Mass Media Bureau. After repeated requests over a period of three months, the Petition is now with the Office of Engineering and Technology.
- National Broadband Plan: As instructed by the ARRL Board of Directors at its January 2012 meeting, the EC reviewed the National Broadband Plan (NBP) Committee Report to consider possible revisions/updates. General Counsel Imlay advised the EC that “no new, acute threats to amateur allocations” have surfaced since the release of the NBP, but there may be indirect threats arising from the displacement of other services from other bands since its introduction. He explained that there is a need for them to be re-accommodated elsewhere, possibly within existing amateur allocations.
- ReconRobotics: General Counsel Imlay informed the EC of two pending items at the FCC in regard to the ReconRobotics surveillance devices that are designed to operate in the band 430-448 MHz:
- The ARRL filed a complaint in October 2010 with the FCC’s laboratory, requesting that in view of several serious errors made by the Telecommunications Certification Body (TCB) in granting an equipment authorization for the Recon Scout device, the grant be rescinded. In January 2011, the ARRL and ReconRobotics were both advised that the complaint was under review; however, after more than two years, no action has been forthcoming. The EC asked General Counsel Imlay to write to the FCC, seeking action on the ARRL’s complaint without further delay.
- The ARRL filed a Petition for Reconsideration in March 2012 concerning an FCC Order that modified an earlier waiver it had granted to ReconRobotics that authorized the sale and marketing of the Recon Scout. There has been no FCC action on the ARRL’s Petition.
General Counsel Imlay informed the EC of his progress in preparing a briefing memo to be used on Capitol Hill as the ARRL seeks legislation in instructing the FCC to extend its limited preemption of land use regulations to include private restrictions. In addition, Chief Executive Officer Sumner distributed a draft Request for Proposal for legislative relations services beginning in January 2014. EC members were asked to provide comments on the draft no later than April 9.
- Radio Society of Great Britain: The EC approved a resolution congratulating the Radio Society of Great Britain’s (RSGB) on its 100th anniversary. The resolution noted the Society’s many contributions to radio amateurs in Britain, to the IARU and to the Amateur Radio Service as a whole.
- IARU Region 2 Conference: International Affairs Vice President Bellows informed the EC that preparations are underway for the IARU Region 2 Conference to be held in Mexico in September 2013. In addition to the conference, a companion conference on regional emergency communications will be held.
- Change in Procedure for Executive Committee Elections: The EC voted to change the way the Board of Directors elects members of the Executive Committee.
- National Frequency Coordinators Council: President Craigie reported that a new Memorandum of Understanding has been achieved with the National Frequency Coordinators Council (NFCC).
- Centennial Celebration Committee: President Craigie updated the EC on the progress of the ARRL Centennial Celebration Committee. She noted that the Committee had received “valuable input and support” from the ARRL Public Relations Committee, and an outline of a year-long operating event for 2014 is taking shape. Plans are being developed to bring the Centennial Celebration to major conventions in various parts of the country.
- Potential Liability and ARES®: The EC discussed the extent of the ARRL’s potential liability in the event of an injury caused by an ARES® volunteer during a deployment. After discussion, International Affairs Vice President Bellows offered to work with General Counsel Imlay and Chief Executive Officer Sumner to draft a clarifying statement to protect the interests of the ARRL. The draft will be circulated to the EC for review.
- Completed and Open Board Actions: Chief Executive Officer Sumner distributed a chart listing past Board actions, and those on which work is ongoing.
- Convention Approval: The following 2013 conventions were approved:
- EmComm East (Specialty), September 29, Rochester, New York
- West Central Florida Section Convention, December 6-7, Plant City, Florida
- Life Members Recognized: The EC also recognized 122 recently elected Life Members. Their names will appear in May 2013 issue of QST.
- Next EC Meeting: The next meeting of the ARRL Executive Committee will be held on October 5, 2013 at a location to be selected at a later date.
The EC is responsible for administering the League’s affairs in between Board meetings. It is chaired by ARRL President Kay Craigie, N3KN, and five Directors are elected annually by the Board to sit on the committee. For 2013, the Director EC members are: Jim Fenstermaker, K9JF (Northwestern), Dick Isely, W9GIG (Central), Brian Mileshosky, N5ZGT (Rocky Mountain), Bob Vallio, W6RGG (Pacific) and David Woolweaver, K5RAV (West Gulf). ARRL First Vice President Rick Roderick, K5UR, and ARRL Chief Executive Officer David Sumner, K1ZZ, are also on the committee, but do not have a vote. ARRL Second Vice President Bruce Frahm, K0BJ, along with International Affairs Vice President Jay Bellows, K0QB, and General Counsel Chris Imlay, W3KD, also attended the meeting.