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ARRL Executive Committee Hears Updates on Parity Act, FCC Petitions, Small Satellites


Meeting on April 21 in Windsor, Connecticut, the ARRL Executive Committee (EC) heard a status update on several regulatory matters and the Amateur Radio Parity Act from ARRL General Counsel Chris Imlay, W3KD. Imlay reported that ARRL continues to work multiple avenues in its efforts to secure passage of the Parity Act. He said ARRL continues to have solid support from House leadership, and most notably from Representative Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), who, Imlay noted, has worked tirelessly to see the Parity Act become law.

The EC also discussed the FCC’s recent Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) regarding the deployment of “small satellites” by colleges, universities, and commercial entities using experimental licenses on Amateur Radio spectrum. The EC was told that the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) has changed its previous policy regarding the coordination of small satellites (CubeSats), and that FCC policy is overly restrictive in some respects and insufficiently protective against commercial exploitation of amateur spectrum in other respects. AMSAT has requested ARRL’s input.

The EC agreed that ARRL’s comments should reflect our support for World Radiocommunication Conference 2015 Resolution 659 and IARU policies. In addition, ARRL (a) will support and encourage college and university Amateur Radio experiments where the sponsor of the experiment is an amateur licensee and all operation is in amateur spectrum, and (b) will discourage commercial or Part 5 experimental operations using Amateur Radio spectrum.

The EC asked Imlay to file ex parte comments in support of Petition for Rule Making RM-11775 relating to frequent changing of vanity call signs, and to file ex parte comments on ARRL’s Petition for Rule Making, RM-11785, noting that the Canadian government has implemented a new, contiguous 5 MHz band and permitted a power level of 100 W. The EC also requested that Imlay support a request by certain ARRL members for an STA or experimental license for higher terrestrial and EME power levels in the 76-81 GHz band, to permit Amateur Radio experimentation.

The EC asked Imlay to share with the National Telecommunications and Information Agency (NTIA) ARRL’s concerns regarding an NTIA study to use 3450 – 3550 MHz for mobile wireless applications. That includes a portion of the 9-millimeter Amateur Radio band. The EC also instructed Imlay to prepare and circulate for review comments regarding ARRL policy on a plan to make spectrum above 95 GHz more readily accessible for new innovative services and technologies. This could impact primary Amateur Radio allocations of 134 – 136 GHz and 248 – 250 GHz. Comments would include a request for prior coordination of experimental licenses in the millimeter wave bands with ARRL.

Updated OO Program Progress

ARRL Atlantic Division Vice Director Riley Hollingsworth, K4ZDH, the new chair of the Amateur Auxiliary Study Working Group, reported via teleconference that he’d met with the FCC’s Laura Smith concerning implementation of an updated and improved Official Observers (OO) program. Several attorneys have reviewed the ARRL’s draft memorandum of understanding, and several Commission attorneys who have reviewed the new manual for OOs will be providing feedback on the proposal. Once the FCC’s comments are received and addressed, the Working Group will present its final report and recommendations to the EC, which will make a final recommendation to the full Board.

After lengthy discussion, the EC directed CEO Barry Shelley, N1VXY, to work with the Amateur Auxiliary Study Working Group and headquarters staff to update the full Board and membership on the status of the Amateur Auxiliary program and potential changes. In the interim, the ARRL Field Organization may resume making a limited number of OO appointments.

ARRL Governance

The EC discussed a wide range of options to most effectively update ARRL’s Articles of Association and Bylaws and to bring proposed additions or revisions to the full Board for its consideration in July. The Board in January adopted new articles 15 and 16 to make the language of the Articles of Association consistent with Connecticut nonprofit corporation statutes, but filing these with the state was postponed for additional fine tuning.

Article 15 addresses the issue of personal liability on the part of Directors, Vice Directors, volunteer officers, and staff officers regarding breach of duty in their respective roles, provided the breach did not involve a “knowing and culpable” violation of law, improper personal economic gain, a lack of good faith, and conscious disregard or sustained and unexcused pattern of inattention amounting to abdication of duty.

Article 16 would indemnify Directors, Vice Directors, volunteer officers, and staff officers for any action taken or any failure to take action, with conditions similar to those spelled out in Article 15.

Changes to the Articles of Association would add the organization’s informal name, “ARRL, the national association for Amateur Radio,” to Article 1 in accordance with Connecticut statues. A proposed change to Bylaw 23 would clarify the schedule of Director elections.

Pursuant to action at the January Board meeting, the EC reached consensus to develop a revised Policy on Board Governance and Conduct of Members of the Board of Directors and Vice Directors (“Code of Conduct”), using a template from the National Council of Non-profits and an edited version of the current conduct code. An ad hoc committee was formed to draft a proposal to be presented at the fall Executive Committee meeting and, subsequently, to the full Board.

ARRL will publish white papers to explain all changes to the Articles of Association, Bylaws, and Code of Conduct, in advance of the July Board meeting.

Other Business

International Affairs Vice President Jay Bellows, K0QB, discussed several IARU issues, including world-wide harmonization of 6 meters. The IARU also is evaluating the potential for disruption of amateur frequencies by low-frequency remote power charging systems, as well as band-planning issues related to the new FT8 protocol.

ARRL Delta Division Director David Norris, K5UZ updated the EC on the progress of the ad hoc working group that’s reviewing Board advisory committees. Norris expressed concern that, over the years, advisory committee chairs have neglected to provide feedback evaluations to the Board on the activity and participation of their appointees. The ad hoc working group is exploring options to improve advisory committee structure and procedures.

The EC approved 192 new ARRL Life Members.





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