Amateur Radio is alive and well! Growth in the US continued in 2015, with a record 735,405 licensees in the FCC’s Universal Licensing System (ULS) database by the end of the year. That’s up 9130 over December 2014, a 1.2 percent rise, continuing a steady increase in the Amateur Radio population in every year since 2007. In 2014, the Amateur Radio ranks grew by a net 8149 licensees. The figures, compiled by Joe Speroni, AH0A, on his FCC Amateur Radio Statistics web pages, exclude expired licenses that are within the 2-year grace period, and club station licenses. Compared with the same month 10 years ago, the Amateur Radio population in the US has expanded by 72,805 licensees — or nearly 11 percent.
Three more members of the US House of Representatives have stepped forward to cosponsor The Amateur Radio Parity Act, H.R. 1301. That brings the total to 123.
The latest to sign on are Reps Evan Jenkins (R-WV), Stephen Knight (R-CA), and Charles Boustany Jr (R-LA).
On a voice vote on February 11, the US House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, chaired by Rep Greg Walden, W7EQI, sentH.R. 1301 to the full House Energy and Commerce Committee with a favorable report for further consideration.
H.R. 1301 would direct the FCC to extend its rules relating to reasonable accommodation of Amateur Service communications to private land-use restrictions, such as deed covenants, conditions, and restrictions.
The FCC is seeking comments on a Petition for Rule Making (RM 11760) that asks the FCC to grant lifetime Amateur Radio licenses. Mark F. Krotz, N7MK, of Mesa, Arizona, filed his request with the FCC last November. He wants the FCC to revise § 97.25 of its rules to indicate that Amateur Radio licenses are granted for the holder’s lifetime, instead of for the current 10 year term. Krotz noted that the General Radiotelephone Operator License (GROL) already is issued on a lifetime basis, and he maintained that not having to renew licenses would lighten the FCC’s workload.
The new Amateur Extra class license examination question pool, effective from July 1, 2016, through June 30, 2020, now is available at the National Conference of Volunteer Coordinators (NCVEC) website. The latest revision contains a few minor corrections that had been released in a February 5 errata of the initial January 8 release. NCVEC Question Pool Committee Chair Rol Anders, K3RA, said the new pool represents a fairly significant change relative to the current question pool, which expires on June 30.
On a voice vote, the US House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology has sent the Amateur Radio Parity Act, H.R. 1301, to the full House Energy and Commerce Committee with a favorable report for further consideration. The measure was among three bills the Subcommittee consideredduring a February 11“markup” session. The Subcommittee is chaired by Rep Greg Walden, W7EQI (R-OR).
The ARRL and the American Red Cross have signed a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). The document, signed in January, succeeds one agreed to in 2010; it will remain in place for the next 5 years. The MoU spells out how League Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) volunteers will interface with the Red Cross in the event that ARES teams are asked by the Red Cross to assist in a disaster or emergency response.
The ARRL Board of Directors has adopted an updated Strategic Plan that defines the League’s vision and guides its direction over the next 5 years. ARRL COO Harold Kramer, WJ1B, a member of the Strategic Planning Working Group, said the revised plan represents more than 8 months of work on the part of the group’s seven members. Now-Honorary ARRL Vice President Jim Fenstermaker, K9JF, chaired the panel, which met some 2 dozen times, mostly via webinar. Kramer said input to the Strategic Plan was considerable and comprehensive.
ARRL has established an agreement with RFinder, the creator of a web and app-based directory of Amateur Radio repeaters worldwide, to be its preferred online resource of repeater frequencies.
RFinder is a steadily growing worldwide repeater directory with over 50,000 repeater listings in over 170 countries. An annual $9.99 subscription to RFinder provides access to repeater data through its collection of apps for Android and Apple devices, and from nearly any web browser. With one subscription, users have access to repeater data worldwide from computing devices on Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, Apple iOS, and popular GPS systems. A growing list of third-party memory programming applications support radio programming. RFinder provides integrated support for EchoLink on Android and iPhone, allowing users a one-click connection to repeaters worldwide from the directory.
New York Congressman Peter King has asked FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to put some Enforcement Bureau heat on those interfering with various radio communication services, including Amateur Radio, in the New York City Metropolitan Area. While visiting Capitol Hill to promote the Amateur Radio Parity Act, ARRL Hudson Division Director Mike Lisenco, N2YBB, and General Counsel Chris Imlay, W3KD, recently met with King, a Republican representing New York’s 2nd District, to discuss the interference issue. King is among the original of the 118 cosponsors of the Amateur Radio Parity Act (H.R. 1301) in the US House.
Former ARRL staffer Bart Jahnke, W9JJ, is the League’s new ARRL Contest Branch manager. Jahnke returned to ARRL Headquarters on January 4 after a decade away, which he spent working in the customer service, manufacturing sales and support, and information technology fields in the Midwest and on the East Coast. He succeeds Matt Wilhelm, W1MSW, who resigned last year.