ARRL

ARRL General Bulletin ARLB065 (1996)

SB QST @ ARL $ARLB065
ARLB065 Gate 2 like a lottery

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ARRL Bulletin 65  ARLB065
From ARRL Headquarters
Newington CT  September 26, 1996
To all radio amateurs

SB QST ARL ARLB065
ARLB065 Gate 2 like a lottery

September 23, 1996, was a momentous day for the thousands of FCC
Extra Class licensees who decided to enter what amounts to a call
sign lottery--otherwise known as Gate 2 of the FCC's vanity call
sign program. To paraphrase the old saw, you pays your 30 dollars
and takes your chances. But, patience. Don't be surprised if that
license bearing the new call sign doesn't show up for two to three
weeks or longer, even if your Form 610V was among the first to
arrive at the FCC bank contractor's doorstep.

Some applicants--perhaps many--labored under the misconception that
the earlier they got their Form 610V in to the Pittsburgh drop box
(for Mellon Bank, the FCC's fiscal agent), the better their chances
of getting their first choice. T'ain't so. According to ARRL/VEC
Manager Bart Jahnke, KB9NM, the FCC says it won't grant any
applications until all applications (electronic or hard-copy) have
been received. ''What this means is all applications first will be
entered into one big queue in no particular order in the FCC's
computer,'' he said. Electronic filers using the system that the FCC
inaugurated on September 23 stand the same chances as paper filers
in the call sign assignment process, Jahnke emphasized. The FCC's
on-line filing system does not yet permit on-line payment, so
electronic filers still had to physically send their payments to the
FCC's drop box in Pittsburgh, although the box was a different one
than for paper applications with payment attached.

Jahnke explains that no application will carry a time of receipt,
and everything that showed up in the correct Post Office box between
12:01 AM on Saturday, September 21, and 12:59 PM on Monday,
September 23, will be considered day-one receipts and will go into
the computer as such. The FCC says it won't start to grant new call
signs until all applications for a given day are entered--whether
they were filed on paper or electronically. When the FCC starts
granting new call sign requests, they will be done in random order,
so it could be a few weeks before your application is granted.

''Think of it as a lottery drawing,'' Jahnke said. ''The (FCC
computer) 'arm' will reach in and grab applications until the queue
is empty.''

Just how many Gate 2 applications the FCC ultimately will receive is
a matter of speculation. Original FCC plans called for running off
25,000 Form 610V copies for the entire vanity program. Later, the
Commission upped the tally by nearly a factor of 10. Jahnke said the
ARRL alone has distributed up to 20,000 vanity call sign application
packages, including direct replies to SASEs, electronic requests and
distributions at hamfests and conventions.
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