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FCC Now Says ULS, Other Systems, Will Not Return Until September 10

09/08/2015

The FCC has announced that its Universal Licensing System (ULS) and some other website applications remain offline for maintenance, but the Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS) is now back in service and the Electronic Document Management System (EDOCS) should be available in a short time. The remaining computer system upgrades scheduled to have been completed by today, September 8, now are not expected to be done until September 10, the FCC said in a Public Notice. As the ULS outage continues, it will not be possible to file any Amateur Radio applications, including examination session documents, or conduct any license or application searches.

“Over Labor Day weekend, a dedicated FCC team worked day and night to complete major IT upgrades,” the FCC’s Chief Information Officer David A. Bray, said in a statement. “This work included physically moving more than 200 different legacy servers out of FCC's headquarters to a commercial service provider.” This move — a cost-saving measure, Bray explained — ran into trouble when it was determined that additional cabling was needed to complete the transition. “Unfortunately, this delayed completion of all of the system upgrades — even with the FCC team working around the clock throughout the holiday weekend,” Bray explained.

While the requirement to pay a regulatory fee for Amateur Radio vanity call sign applications officially ended on September 3, prospective vanity applicants now will have to wait until the ULS is up and running again to file an application for an available call sign. The FCC has told ARRL that the approximately 18-day vanity call sign waiting period will remain in place “for now.”

ARRL VEC Manager Maria Somma, AB1FM, said a lot of candidates and volunteer examiners have begun asking why new call signs or license upgrades have not yet been issued.

“We have a huge back log in our filing system that continues to grow!” she said. “We already have approximately 75 examination sessions and over 500 applications waiting to be released to FCC.”

Bray said it took seven moving vans to contain the servers being relocated. “With a massive server move of this scale — even with detailed planning, independent verification, and backup plans — the opportunity always exists for surprises, especially with legacy IT systems, nearly 400 program applications, and hundreds of servers,” he pointed out.

The project will relocate the FCC’s “legacy” computer systems to a commercial service provider, helping to reduce maintenance costs, improve “resiliency,” and allow the FCC to shift many of its legacy applications to the cloud, as it has done with its Consumer Help Desk.

The FCC said in its Public Notice that it anticipates all systems and databases to be back online by 1200 UTC on September 10. By that time, it said, the Commission’s website “will have returned to normal operations, with full content and search capabilities available.” FCC voicemail and e-mail also should be back by then too.

“We will continue to work diligently and provide updates on these IT upgrades,” Bray said. “The entire FCC team and I truly appreciate your patience and understanding as we work to complete all of the upgrades.”

 

 



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