[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 206 (Wednesday, October 24, 2012)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 64947-64949]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-26201]



[[Page 64947]]

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FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION

47 CFR Part 97

[WT Docket Nos. 12-283 and 09-209, RM-11629 and RM-11625; FCC 12-121]


Amateur Service Rules

AGENCY: Federal Communications Commission.

ACTION: Proposed rule.

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SUMMARY: In this document, the Commission proposes to amend the amateur 
radio service rules to grant examination credit for expired and beyond-
the-grace-period-for renewal amateur radio operator licenses; to 
shorten the grace period during which an expired amateur license may be 
renewed to 180 days; to revise the time a call sign is not available to 
the vanity call sign system correspondingly; and to reduce to two the 
number of volunteer examiners needed to administer an amateur license 
examination. This document also asks for comment on amending the rules 
to permit remote test administration, and proposes to amend the amateur 
radio service rules to allow amateur stations to transmit certain 
additional emission types.

DATES: Submit comments on or before December 24, 2012 and reply 
comments are due January 22, 2013.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by WT Docket No. 12-283; 
FCC 12-121, by any of the following methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. 
Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
     Federal Communications Commission's Web Site: http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/ecfs/. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
     People with Disabilities: Contact the FCC to request 
reasonable accommodations (accessible format documents, sign language 
interpreters, CART, etc.) by email: FCC504@fcc.gov or phone 202-418-
0530 or TTY: 202-418-0432.
    For detailed instructions for submitting comments and additional 
information on the rulemaking process, see the SUPPLEMENTARY 
INFORMATION section of this document.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: William T. Cross, Mobility Division, 
Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, (202) 418-0680, TTY (202) 418-7233.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This is a summary of the Commission's Notice 
of Proposed Rulemaking and Order (NPRM), in WT Docket No. 12-283, FCC 
12-121, adopted October 1, 2012, and released October 2, 2012. The full 
text of this document is available for inspection and copying during 
normal business hours in the FCC Reference Center, 445 12th Street SW., 
Room CY-A257, Washington, DC 20554, or by downloading the text from the 
Commission's Web site at http://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Digest/2012/dd121003.html. The complete text also may be 
purchased from the Commission's duplicating contractor, Best Copy and 
Printing, Inc., Portals II, 445 12th Street, Suite CY-B402, Washington, 
DC 20554. Alternative formats are available for people with 
disabilities (Braille, large print, electronic files, audio format), by 
sending an email to FCC504@fcc.gov or calling the Consumer and 
Government Affairs Bureau at (202) 418-0530 (voice), (202) 418-0432 
(TTY).
    1. The Commission initiated this proceeding to amend the part 97 
Amateur Radio Service rules that apply to examination credit for 
amateur radio operator licenses, to shorten the grace period during 
which an expired amateur license may be renewed, to reduce the number 
of volunteer examiners needed to administer an amateur license 
examination, and to allow amateur stations to transmit additional 
emission types. The Commission found that certain provisions in the 
rules applicable to the examination credit for an expired license treat 
a former licensee differently than a licensee who passed the same 
examination(s) but continuously renewed his or her license and that the 
fact that an individual allowed his or her license to expire more than 
two years ago does not necessarily mean that the person no longer 
possess adequate knowledge of the subject. Specifically, the Commission 
proposed in this NPRM to amend the amateur service rules to revise 
Sec.  97.505 to require that volunteer examiners (VEs) give examination 
credit to an applicant who can demonstrate that he or she formerly held 
a particular class of amateur radio operator license. It also proposed 
to reduce the grace period for renewal to six months (180 days), noting 
that it believes 180 days is a sufficient period of time for 
individuals who forget to renew or experience unforeseen difficulties 
when renewing their licenses.
    2. The Commission also proposed to reduce the number of VEs 
required to administer an examination from three to two noting that 
reducing the number of required VEs can increase the availability of 
examination opportunities while not compromising the reasons the 
Commission decided that more than one VE is necessary. It also noted 
that in the years since the VE system was established, methods that 
would allow a VE examiner to observe an examinee from afar have been 
developed, such as audio and video links, either hard-wired to a site 
or available through the use of wireless Internet or satellite 
technologies, and it requested comment on whether it should amend 
Section 97.509(c) to provide that, at the option of the administering 
VEs and the VEC coordinating the examination session, the VEs may be 
``present and observing'' an examinee for purposes of the rule when 
they are using an audio and video system that can assure the proper 
conduct and necessary supervision of each examination.
    3. The Commission also proposed to amend Sec.  97.3(c)(5) to allow 
emission type FXE as a phone emission and to amend Sec.  97.307(f)(8) 
to allow emission type FXD as a data emission. It noted that this 
proposed rule change would encourage licensees to more fully utilize 
time division multiple access (TDMA) technologies in experimentation 
and promote more efficient use of the radio spectrum currently 
allocated to the amateur service.

I. Procedural Matters

A. Ex Parte Rules--Permit-but-Disclose Proceeding

    4. This is a permit-but-disclose notice and comment rulemaking 
proceeding. Ex parte presentations are permitted, except during the 
Sunshine Agenda period, provided they are disclosed as provided in the 
Commission's rules.

B. Comment Dates

    5. Pursuant to Sec. Sec.  1.415 and 1.419 of the Commission's 
rules, interested parties may file comments on or before December 24, 
2012, and reply comments are due January 22, 2013.
    6. Commenters may file comments electronically using the 
Commission's Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS), the Federal 
Government's eRulemaking Portal, or by filing paper copies. Commenters 
filing through the ECFS can be sent as an electronic file via the 
Internet to http://www.fcc.gov/e-file/ecfs.html. If multiple docket or 
rulemaking numbers appear in the caption of this proceeding, filers 
must transmit one electronic copy for each docket or rulemaking number 
referenced in the caption. In completing the transmittal screen, 
commenters should include their full name, U.S. Postal Service mailing 
address, and the applicable docket or rulemaking number. Commenters may 
also submit an electronic comment by Internet

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email. To get filing instructions for email comments, commenters should 
send an email to ecfs@fcc.gov, and should include the following words 
in the body of the message, ``get form.'' Commenters will receive a 
sample form and directions in reply. Commenters filing through the 
Federal eRulemaking Portal http://www.regulations.gov, should follow 
the instructions provided on the Web site for submitting comments.
    7. Commenters who chose to file paper comments must file an 
original and four copies of each comment. If more than one docket or 
rulemaking number appears in the caption of this proceeding, filers 
must submit two additional copies for each additional docket or 
rulemaking number. All filings must be sent to the Commission's 
Secretary, Office of the Secretary, Federal Communications Commission, 
445 12th Street SW., Room TW-A325, Washington, DC 20554.
    8. Commenters may send filings by hand or messenger delivery, by 
commercial overnight courier, or by first-class or overnight U.S. 
Postal Service mail. The Commission's contractor will receive hand-
delivered or messenger-delivered paper filings for the Commission's 
Secretary at 445 12th Street SW., Washington, DC 20554. Commenters must 
bind all hand deliveries together with rubber bands or fasteners and 
must dispose of any envelopes before entering the building. This 
facility is the only location where the Commission's Secretary will 
accept hand-delivered or messenger-delivered paper filings. Commenters 
must send commercial overnight mail (other than U.S. Postal Service 
Express Mail and Priority Mail) to 9300 East Hampton Drive, Capitol 
Heights, MD 20743. Commenters should address U.S. Postal Service first-
class mail, Express Mail, and Priority Mail to 445 12th Street SW., 
Washington, DC 20554.

C. Paperwork Reduction Act

    9. This document does not contain proposed information collection 
requirements subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, Public Law 
104-13. In addition, therefore, it does not contain any proposed 
information collection burden ``for small business concerns with fewer 
than 25 employees,'' pursuant to the Small Business Paperwork Relief 
Act of 2002, Public Law 107-198, see 44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(4).

II. Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

    10. The Regulatory Flexibility Act requires an initial regulatory 
flexibility analysis to be prepared for notice and comment rulemaking 
proceedings, unless the agency certifies that ``the rule will not, if 
promulgated, have a significant economic impact on a substantial number 
of small entities.'' The RFA generally defines the term ``small 
entity'' as having the same meaning as the terms ``small business,'' 
``small organization,'' and ``small governmental jurisdiction.'' In 
addition, the term ``small business'' has the same meaning as the term 
``small business concern'' under the Small Business Act. A ``small 
business concern'' is one which: (1) Is independently owned and 
operated; (2) is not dominant in its field of operation; and (3) 
satisfies any additional criteria established by the Small Business 
Administration (SBA).
    11. In this NPRM, we propose to amend the amateur service rules 
applicable to the license examination system and to matters concerning 
emission types that amateur stations may transmit. Because ``small 
entities,'' as defined in the RFA, are not persons eligible for 
licensing in the amateur service, these proposed rules do not apply to 
``small entities.'' Rather, the rules apply exclusively to individuals 
who currently are amateur service licensees and individuals who may be 
interested in again becoming an amateur service licensee. Therefore, we 
certify that the proposals in this Notice, if adopted, will not have a 
significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.

III. Ordering Clauses

    12. The Commission's Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, 
Reference Information Center, shall send a copy of this Notice of 
Proposed Rulemaking and Order, including the Initial Regulatory 
Flexibility Certification, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the 
Small Business Administration.

List of Subjects in 47 CFR Part 97

    Radio.

Federal Communications Commission.
Marlene H. Dortch,
Secretary.

    For the reasons discussed in the preamble, the Federal 
Communications Commission proposes to amend 47 CFR part 97 as follows:

PART 97--AMATEUR RADIO SERVICE

    1. The authority citation for part 97 continues to read as follows:

    Authority:  48 Stat. 1066, 1082, as amended; 47 U.S.C. 154, 303. 
Interpret or apply 48 Stat. 1064-1068, 1081-1105, as amended; 47 
U.S.C. 151-155, 301-609, unless otherwise noted.

    2. Section 97.3 is amended by revising paragraph (c)(5) to read as 
follows:


Sec.  97.3  Definitions.

* * * * *
    (c) * * *
    (5) Phone. Speech and other sound emissions having designators with 
A, C, D, F, G, H, J or R as the first symbol; 1, 2, 3, or X as the 
second symbol; E as the third symbol. Also speech emissions having B as 
the first symbol; 7, 8 or 9 as the second symbol; E as the third 
symbol. MCW for the purpose of performing the station identification 
procedure, or for providing telegraphy practice interspersed with 
speech. Incidental tones for the purpose of selective calling or 
alerting or to control the level of a demodulated signal may also be 
considered phone.
* * * * *
    3. Section 97.19 is amended by revising paragraphs (c)(1) through 
(3) to read as follows:


Sec.  97.19  Application for a vanity call sign.

* * * * *
    (c) * * *
    (1) A call sign shown on an expired license grant is not available 
to the vanity call sign system for 180 days following the expiration of 
the license.
    (2) A call sign shown on a surrendered or canceled license grant 
(except for a license grant that is canceled pursuant to Sec.  97.31) 
is not available to the vanity call sign system for 180 days following 
the date such action is taken. (The availability of a call sign shown 
on a license canceled pursuant to Sec.  97.31 is governed by paragraph 
(c)(3) of this section.)
    (i) This 180 day period does not apply to any license grant 
pursuant to paragraph (c)(3)(i), (ii), or (iii) of this section that is 
surrendered, canceled, revoked, voided, or set aside because the 
grantee acknowledged or the Commission determined that the grantee was 
not eligible for the exception. In such a case, the call sign is not 
available to the vanity call sign system for 30 days following the date 
such action is taken, or for the period for which the call sign would 
not have been available to the vanity call sign system pursuant to 
paragraphs (c)(2) or (3) of this section but for the intervening grant 
to the ineligible applicant, whichever is later.
    (ii) An applicant to whose operator/primary station license grant, 
or club station license grant for which the applicant is the trustee, 
the call sign was previously assigned is exempt from the 180 day period 
set forth in paragraph (c)(2) of this section.
    (3) A call sign shown on a license canceled pursuant to Sec.  97.31 
of this part

[[Page 64949]]

is not available to the vanity call sign system for 180 days following 
the person's death, or for 180 days following the expiration of the 
license grant, whichever is sooner. If, however, a license is canceled 
more than 150 days after the licensee's death, the call sign is not 
available to the vanity call sign system for 30 days following the date 
such action is taken. The following applicants are exempt from this 180 
day period:
* * * * *
    4. Section 97.21 is amended by revising paragraph (b) to read as 
follows:


Sec.  97.21  Application for a modified or renewed license grant.

* * * * *
    (b) A person whose amateur station license grant has expired may 
apply to the FCC for renewal of the license grant for another term 
during a 180-day filing grace period. The application must be received 
at the address specified above prior to the end of the grace period. 
Unless and until the license grant is renewed, no privileges in this 
part are conferred.
* * * * *
    5. Section 97.307 is amended by revising paragraphs (f)(8) and (10) 
to read as follows:


Sec.  97.307  Emission standards.

* * * * *
    (f) * * *
    (8) A RTTY or data emission having designators with A, B, C, D, E, 
F, G, H, J or R as the first symbol; 1, 2, 7, 9 or X as the second 
symbol; and D or W as the third symbol is also authorized.
* * * * *
    (10) A station having a control operator holding a Novice Class 
operator license or a Technician Class operator license may only 
transmit a CW emission using the international Morse code or phone 
emissions J3E and R3E.
* * * * *
    6. Section 97.505 is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  97.505  Element credit.

    The administering VEs must give credit as specified below to an 
examinee holding any of the following license grants or license 
documents:
    (a) An unexpired or expired FCC-granted Amateur Extra Class 
operator license grant: Elements 2, 3, and 4.
    (b) An unexpired or expired FCC-granted Advanced Class or General 
Class operator license grant: Elements 2 and 3.
    (c) An unexpired or expired FCC-granted Technician Class or 
Technician Plus operator license document: Element 2.
    (d) An expired FCC-issued Technician Class operator license 
document granted before March 21, 1987; Element 3.
    (e) A CSCE: Each element the CSCE indicates the examinee passed 
within the previous 365 days.
    7. Section 97.507 is amended by removing paragraph (d) and revising 
paragraphs (a) introductory text, (a)(2), and (c) to read as follows:


Sec.  97.507  Preparing an examination.

    (a) Each written question set administered to an examinee must be 
prepared by a VE holding an Amateur Extra Class operator license. A 
written question set may also be prepared for the following elements by 
a VE holding an operator license of the class indicated:
* * * * *
    (2) Element 2: Advanced, General, or Technician Plus Class 
operators
* * * * *
    (c) Each written question set administered to an examinee for an 
amateur operator license must be prepared, or obtained from a supplier, 
by the administering VEs according to instructions from the 
coordinating VEC.
    8. Section 97.509 is amended by removing and reserving paragraph 
(g), and revising paragraphs (a), (f) and (i) to read as follows:


Sec.  97.509  Administering VE requirements.

    (a) Each examination for an amateur operator license must be 
administered by a team of at least 2 VEs at an examination session 
coordinated by a VEC. The number of examinees at the session may be 
limited.
* * * * *
    (f) No examination that has been compromised shall be administered 
to any examinee. The same question set may not be re-administered to 
the same examinee.
    (g) [Removed and Reserved]
* * * * *
    (i) When the examinee is credited for all examination elements 
required for the operator license sought, 2 VEs must certify that the 
examinee is qualified for the license grant and that the VEs have 
complied with these administering VE requirements. The certifying VEs 
are jointly and individually accountable for the proper administration 
of each examination element reported. The certifying VEs may delegate 
to other qualified VEs their authority, but not their accountability, 
to administer individual elements of an examination.
* * * * *
[FR Doc. 2012-26201 Filed 10-23-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 6712-01-P