Friday, April 1, 2022

New FCC Rules On Licensing



FCC Fees Update:
I spent an hour on Zoom with Brandin Hess, VE9KP, a former ARRL VEC Board Member and Chairman for the Aurora ARG VE Program yesterday, who gave a presentation in detail about the new FCC rules on licensing. He also took questions.  Here is a summary of what is coming down the line. 
As we know, starting April 19th, the FCC will be administering a $35 fee for licensing. Since it takes a day for processing, that means any test given the day after the 17th of April will incur the new fee.  It was originally posted that the new fees would include new licenses as well as renews, upgrades, vanity calls, and name changes.  That was not accurate.
The fee will apply to New, Renew, Vanity, Special Event calls, Club calls, Trustee changes, and name changes.  There is NO FEE for updating addresses, phone numbers, e-mail changes, AND license upgrades.
Of interest to many is the club call renewal, and/or Trustee name changes. These are subject to fees.  All fees must be paid through the FCC's CORES system. No exception. All fees are NON-REFUNDABLE, with one exception.  If you answer YES to the felony question, and your license is denied, you will be refunded the $35. That is the only exception.  So, if you apply for a vanity, and it's not accepted, you lose your money. That applies to each vanity application. Eventually, everyone will be required to have a CORES account for renewals.
The $35 fee is per application and not per requested action.  In other words, let us say you renew AND request a Vanity call. The fee is still only $35. Other combinations are possible, but the fee is per application. When the FCC officially receives your application, their computers will send the applicant an e-mail with a link to CORES to pay the fee. The VEs will NOT be collecting the fee nor is it legal for us to do so. Nor can we pay for someone else.  VEs are out of the loop on this, and it is solely the individual's responsibility to get this paid. 
Once the e-mail has been sent, they will have 10 days to pay the fee, or the application is dismissed.  Notice I said once the e-mail is sent and NOT once the e-mail is received.  It is incumbent upon the individual to keep abreast of their application.  If they have not received an e-mail, and the ULS shows them with an application number assigned, the clock has already begun, and they should pay ASAP before it's too late.  It's all on them and there is nothing we can do to help.
Now, this is NOT to say that their CSCE is voided. They still have a year, but they will have to reapply through another application.  My understanding is that there will not be another ARRL $15 fee for doing this. HOWEVER, if it is an upgrade and their application is dismissed for non-payment, they must cease and desist using their new privileges immediately until a new application is submitted.  To be clear, their CSCE is still valid, but the exercising of their new privileges stops.  
When the FCC receives payment your callsign is generated and an e-mail with access to your PDF file is sent almost immediately. You still have the normal 30 days to retrieve your copy. As for the purpose of this new fee Congress has drastically reduced funding for the FCC.  The FCC will now be required to generate their own funding using new fees.
The FCCs intent is to replace and upgrade their entire computer system and network.  Their current computers are 25 years old and have never been upgraded because Congress has refused to fund an upgrade. This upgrade will require millions of dollars and is the first purpose of the fee.
The FCCs second intent is to increase their enforcement of regulations.  This will take effect in 2023 after the computer upgrades. They will be targeting pirates and flagrant violators.  So, expect regulations enforcement in the coming year. 
The info about not needing a fee for upgrades comes from Maria Somma at the ARRL VEC.

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