ARRL General Bulletin ARLB065 (1998)

ARLB065 FCC issues errata on streamlining NPRM

ARRL Bulletin 65  ARLB065
From ARRL Headquarters
Newington CT  September 2, 1998
To all radio amateurs

ARLB065 FCC issues errata on streamlining NPRM

The FCC has issued some corrections and clarifications to its recent
Amateur Radio rules ''streamlining'' proposal, WT Docket 98-143. The
13-page Errata document addresses most of the questions and
confusion raised by the original NPRM, released in early August.

The FCC said the corrections were issued ''to conform the proposed
rules to the proposals discussed in the text of the Notice.'' The
FCC noted that in some instances the NPRM included sections of rules
they did not propose to change. These have been deleted, and only
sections of the rules where changes have been proposed remain.

A major change from the original rulemaking proposal was to
effectively reinstate the language in Section 97.505(a)(10)--the
provisions for a physician's certification that an applicant is
unable to pass a 13 or 20 WPM telegraphy examination. In the NPRM
text, the FCC invited comment on this issue and on an earlier ARRL
proposal, RM-9196. The ARRL had asked the FCC to require anyone
applying for an exemption pursuant to a doctor's certification to
first attempt the higher-speed test before getting exam credit.

The Errata also clarify the Commission's intention to retain the
current 365-day time limit for a Certificate of Successful
Completion of Examination (CSCE) to remain valid.

The FCC also has added the words ''Element 1(A), 1(B) or 1(C)'' to
Section 97.301(e), referring to the 5, 13, and 20 WPM code
examination elements, respectively. While this clarifies the need to
at least have credit for the 5 WPM Morse code examination to gain
Novice/Tech Plus HF privileges, neither the original NPRM nor the
Errata list Element 1(A)--the 5 WPM code test--as a specific
requirement for any license class. The FCC appears to be proposing
to provide that a Technician licensee could gain HF privileges by
passing a 5 WPM code test, but how this would actually be done in
practice remains unclear. The FCC describes elsewhere in its
proposed rules how applicants may claim credit for Element 1(A),
however. A proposed change at Section 97.507(d) that would have
substituted the words ''no less than 5 WPM'' has been dropped. The
current wording says ''no less than the prescribed speed.''

The FCC also addressed apparently inadvertent rules changes in the
NPRM to Section 97.305. Under the Errata, no changes are proposed.
Language in the NPRM would have eliminated Extra class phone and
image privileges in the 20 and 15-meter Extra class phone subbands
and data privileges in the 20 and 15-meter Extra class CW subbands.
In addition, the NPRM would have dropped data privileges from
Novices and phone privileges for current Tech Plus operators on 10
meters.  The FCC also eliminated all proposed changes to Section
97.307, including wording that seemingly would have limited Novice
CW operation to ''only messages sent by hand.''

The FCC's Errata also indicate that the Commission intended to
retain the current 200 W PEP power limit on the current Novice/Tech
Plus HF bands (and on the 30 meter band and on 7.050-7.075 MHz
within Region 1 or 3) in Section 97.313. The NPRM had proposed
imposing the 200 W PEP power restriction on HF only when the control
operator is a Novice.

The FCC also made it clear that someone holding a Technician class
license granted before February 14, 1991, could get examination
credit for written Element 3(A). The Errata also add Element 1(B),
the 13 WPM code test, to the elements that may be prepared by an
Advanced class Volunteer Examiner.

The Errata also correct several apparent typographical errors and
make other relatively minor changes to the original NPRM.

The Errata fail to address another discrepancy in the NPRM that was
raised by the ARRL. The NPRM gives an applicant who held a
Technician license (expired or otherwise) granted before March 21,
1987, examination credit for written Element 3(B). But the proposed
rules do not extend similar credit to an applicant who had held a
General or higher class license, once the grace period is past.