ARRL to Review, Evaluate, and Explore Possible Improvements for OO Program


The ARRL Executive Committee has directed the Headquarters staff to “review and evaluate the Official Observer (OO) program, solicit input from the field organization, and explore areas of possible improvement including in the area of training for OOs.” ARRL Second Vice President Brian Mileshosky will oversee the study. The action stemmed from a discussion during the EC’s March 12 meeting in Westlake, Texas. At the meeting, ARRL General Counsel Chris Imlay, W3KD, observed that there have been “several positive developments” with respect to FCC enforcement, since the EC last met in October 2015. But with the closure of some FCC field offices and the retirement of several experienced engineers who have been helpful with enforcement matters in the past, the EC discussed how the OO program might be better positioned to help the FCC. A preliminary report is due at the EC’s October meeting.

In other matters, the EC directed the development of a Petition for Rule Making to implement the 15 kHz band allocation at 5 MHz that came out of World Radiocommunication Conference 2015, while still retaining the existing five discrete channels at 5 MHz.

WRC-15 laid the foundation for a global, secondary Amateur Radio allocation of 5351.5 kHz to 5366.5 kHz at up to 15 W effective isotropic radiated power in the US (some Region 2 countries will be permitted up to 25 W EIRP). The new worldwide band won’t be available for use in the US until the FCC institutes a rule making proceeding and establishes operating parameters for the band.

The ARRL has served notice on the National Frequency Coordinators’ Council (NFCC) to terminate the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that spells out how the two organizations will cooperate in achieving common goals. At the EC’s direction, ARRL CEO and EC Secretary David Sumner, K1ZZ, wrote (see attached page 1, page 2, below) to Mark Stennett, NA6M as the most-recent known NFCC president, after Sumner reported “clear evidence” that the NFCC is no longer functioning. Sumner recounted in the letter that Stennett had told him that the terms of NFCC officeholders have expired and that no new elections have been held or scheduled.

The letter gave the NFCC 90 days’ notice of the ARRL’s intention to terminate the MoU, signed in 2013. Sumner stressed the sentiment of the Executive Committee, however, that the League would greatly prefer that the NFCC membership elect and install a new Board of Directors and that the NFCC resumes its functions.

Imlay told the EC that he has asked FCC staff why there has been no action on the ARRL’s Petition for Rule Making RM-11708, since the FCC solicited comments on the petition more than 2 years ago. Imlay said that action had been promised in the near future, but nothing has happened yet. The petition, in part, asked the FCC to remove the symbol rate limitation for data emissions in band segments below 29 MHz where RTTY and data emissions are now permitted. It also asked the Commission to establish a 2.8 kHz maximum bandwidth for data emissions on MF and HF bands.

The Executive Committee also:

  • Agreed that the League does not need to file comments with the FCC on RM-11760, a petition asking the FCC to issue lifetime operator licenses.
  • Continues to track the progress of transferring the responsibility and funding for the Handiham Program from Allina Health to the ARRL.
  • Instructed the Ad Hoc Legislative Advocacy Committee to continue dialogue with the Community Associations Institute regarding the Amateur Radio Parity Act, and to report back to the EC.

Chairing his first EC meeting ARRL President Rick Roderick, K5UR, thanked all participants for their hard work and attention and observed that this was David Sumner’s last meeting as CEO and Secretary. He will retire on April 18.