Pending Amateur Service Rule Changes Are Not on Back Burner, FCC Assures VECs
Speaking in late July at the 28th annual National Conference of Volunteer Examiner Coordinators (NCVEC) meeting, Bill Cross, W3TN, of the FCC’s Mobility Division within the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (WTB), assured attendees that pending proposals to modify the Amateur Service Part 97 rules are not on the back burner but still under review. FCC personnel addressing the teleconference were unable, however, to predict when the Commission would take action on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Order (NPRM) in WT Docket 12-283.
Among the FCC proposals: Granting exam credit for expired and beyond-the grace-period licenses; shortening the grace period during which an expired ham ticket may be renewed; correspondingly revising the time a call sign remains unavailable to vanity applicants; and reducing the number of volunteer examiners needed to administer examinations. The docket also seeks comment on amending the rules to permit remote test administration and proposes allowing Amateur Radio stations to transmit certain emission types.
FCC Program Analyst Rebecca Williams of the FCC’s Gettysburg Office told meeting participants that the FCC will not remove or conceal a licensee’s name or address from its public database. She said she’s received numerous complaints from licensees about their information being public. According to §97.23, licensees must provide a valid mailing address, but as Williams pointed out, that can be any US address where the licensee can receive mail, such as a work address or a post office box. Licensees can protect their privacy and remain within the rules, she said.
She also reminded her audience that since February 14, 2011, a radio amateur can serve as a trustee for only a single club and may not also be a club license trustee for another club. The rules further prohibit clubs from having more than one vanity call sign. Amateurs who served as trustees for more than one club, and clubs holding more than one vanity call sign before the change may continue to do so, she said.
NCVEC Chair Larry Pollock, NB5X, presided over the teleconference. ARRL VEC Manager Maria Somma, AB1FM, Assistant Manager Perry Green, WY1O, and Regulatory Information Manager Dan Henderson, N1ND, represented the ARRL VEC for the session. Representatives from 12 of the nation’s 14 VECs took part in the meeting.
NCVEC Question Pool Committee (QPC) Chair Roland Anders, K3RA, told the gathering that the QPC has been working to update the Technician question pool. The new Tech question pool will go into effect next July 1. Anders said the QPC has been reviewing the entire question pool with a goal of fixing and removing outdated or poorly worded questions and to develop questions as new technology is introduced. He said the most difficult part of the job is coming up with distractors — incorrect answers — for the multiple-choice exams that are reasonable but also absolutely incorrect.
The gathering re-elected by acclamation the current leadership slate, including Pollock, who will serve a fifth term as chair. Other officers are Vice Chair Mark Erbaugh, N8ME; Treasurer Willard Sitton, W4HZD; Assistant to the Treasurer Ray Adams, W4CPA; Secretary and Custodian of Records Michele Cimbala, WK3X, and Assistant to the Custodian of Records Gene Wright, WA6ZRT. The rules reporter position remains vacant.