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Laura L. Smith Named to Amateur Radio Enforcement Role

02/02/2009

Laura L. Smith of Pennsylvania has been named by the FCC to fill the vacancy created when Riley Hollingsworth, K4ZDH, retired in 2008 as Special Counsel for the Spectrum Enforcement Division of the FCC's Enforcement Bureau. Hollingsworth served in that position for more than 10 years as the FCC's enforcement watchdog over the Amateur Radio Service.

A 1990 graduate of the Pepperdine University School of Law, Smith began her legal career with the FCC, working in the Mass Media Bureau and Wireless Telecommunications Bureau. She also served as Deputy Division Chief of the Public Safety and Private Wireless Division. Smith is currently licensed to practice in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

In 1998, Smith left the FCC to become Executive Director of Governmental Affairs for the Industrial Telecommunications Association (ITA), now Enterprise Wireless Alliance. In that role, she monitored FCC and legislative proceedings and participated in all regulatory proceedings relevant to the private wireless industry. In 2001, Smith became ITA's President and Chief Executive Officer. While in that position, she was instrumental in the formation of the Consensus Group, a group of public safety and private wireless entities responsible for drafting the "Consensus Plan," a proposed resolution for interference in the 800 MHz band; this was adopted by the FCC in 2004.

Smith returns to the FCC after serving Of Counsel with the Maryland law firm of Shulman Rogers. While there, she dealt with telecommunications matters and provided counsel to numerous entities in the private radio and public safety communities. Smith has served as an industry consultant and written columns for a variety of trade publications including Mobile Radio Technology Magazine and The Private Wireless Magazine.

In an October 2008 letter to then-FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, ARRL President Joel Harrison, W5ZN, urged Martin to name a successor to Hollingsworth: "The appointment of a replacement Special Counsel in this position is of critical importance to the Amateur Radio Service, as the delay in finalizing the appointment stands to undermine in very short order an exceptionally successful and low-cost program of enforcement in the Amateur Service."

Calling the FCC's Amateur Radio enforcement program "spectacularly successful," Harrison reminded Martin of the "long period in the late 1980s and 1990s during which the Commission was essentially uninvolved in enforcement in the Amateur Service. The Amateur Service, consisting of some 680,000 licensees of the Commission, is in essence a self-regulating service; however, due to the shared frequency allocations in the Service and the long distance propagation of amateur communications, a very few rule violators can cause severe disruption in the Service. On the other hand, even a minimal Commission presence has a very strong deterrent value."

When Hollingsworth was appointed as Special Counsel for Amateur Radio Enforcement, Harrison said that Hollingsworth "established a visible presence in the Service and very quickly, and with very little investment of Commission resources, using little more than the awareness of an enforcement presence, created strong deterrence against rule violations."

Upon learning of Smith's move to the Amateur Radio enforcement role, Harrison remarked that he was "very pleased to see the Commission move forward with the hiring of a new Special Counsel responsible for enforcement of the Amateur Radio Service rules," said Harrison. "Ever since Riley Hollingsworth announced his retirement, we have met with the Enforcement Chief numerous times and corresponded with FCC Chairman Martin to ensure this position remains intact at FCC. The Commission acknowledges the self-regulating environment we maintain, but also understands that we need their assistance occasionally to resolve a few situations. They have continually reassured us that this is an important matter for them, and Ms Smith's hiring confirms that."



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