FCC Relinquishes Amateur Radio Licensing

fcc-logoIn a shocking and unexpected move, the FCC today transferred all amateur radio licensing responsibility to QRZ.com, releasing Report and Order 2013-699.  Outgoing Chairman Julius Genchowski read a statement noting that the decision was due to a combination automatic budget cuts from budget sequestration and an acknowledgement of reality.  Other commissioners released similar written statements.  The Report and Order stated,  “Our enforcement bureau received an inquiry from a radio amateur who was banned from QRZ.com (“QRZ”), an amateur radio portal and a popular callsign database.  After his callsign listing was removed from the QRZ database, amateurs frequently questioned on the air whether he was really licensed.  On a few occasions he was actually referred to as a ‘bootlegger’ by other radio amateurs, a derogatory term for an unlicensed individual operating illegally.  Our research indicates that few licensees actually use the FCC ULS [the official online licensing database] for amateur radio license queries.  In this ruling we have identified an opportunity to shed the responsibility of licensing and reduce administrative costs, and are therefore transferring administration of amateur radio licensing to a private entity.”


FCC Chairman Genchowski Makes Announcement to Stunned Audience

At press time ARRL had not released a written statement due to a backlog in the ARRL email server, still processing emails from a month ago.  However, in a conference call this afternoon it was announced that ARRL was petitioning the FCC to withdraw the R&O until it could present its solution for privatizing amateur radio licensing, a solution employing 65,535 bit encryption technology which would be ready sometime in 2019.

QRZ praised the FCC change and announced that for a limited time free Extra class upgrades will be included with an XML subscription or purchase of Ham Radio Deluxe.  QRZ forums were abuzz, with both support for and opposition against the change.  One super moderator stated that QRZ super moderators will have enforcement privileges, with the ability to revoke licenses for bad behavior both online and on the air, later taunting to users to step out of line and “feel his wrath.”

The FCC announcement is the most notable change in US amateur radio licensing since the controversial and still-debated Incentive Licensing program, and will go into effect upon publication of the Report and Order in the Federal Register.

Amateur Radio Operators Respond To Island Disaster

This week amateur radio came through again, responding to the tsunami disaster at Wasabi Island.  Wasibi Island is a little-known island in the south Pacific inhabited by about 300 people which suffered a devastating category nine tsunami two weeks ago.  Wasabi Island is also a rare DXCC entity, having been in the top 15 most wanted DXCC entities list for nearly two decades.

The Pileup DX Society reacted quickly to the disaster.  Bob Peters, president of the esteemed society, assembled a crew within days of the disaster.  “After hearing about the disaster we called up our top donors and within hours we had a team assembled.”  The Wasabi team was luckily able to quickly book commercial flights into Chile and charter a cargo ship in Santiago.  They landed on the beach on Wasabi Island three days later.  Within hours they were on the air with many amateurs in North America and Europe working the phone and CW stations on 20 meters, bagging the rare DX country.

“The island is devastated” informed team leader Tom Biznosky over a satellite phone call.  “There’s no power on the island and no clean drinking water.  Luckily we brought generators, and plenty of fuel and water, so we can easily operate the stations for the next two weeks.  Sleeping conditions on the island have been awful, so we’ve been shuttling operators to the ship where they can get showers and sleep in air conditioning.”

The disaster conditions have made things difficult for the team.  “The island has been flattened, so it has been very difficult to find any trees to string up dipoles on the lower bands.  On top of that, one of our 12 linear amplifiers which were donated stopped working.  The 10 meter phone station has been running barefoot.” said Biznosky.  “But despite the setbacks, out team remains in good spirits.”

Amateurs are asked to stay clear of the Wasabi island frequencies as all stations are operating split.  Amateurs should go between 5 and 50 kilohertz above the Wasabi Island transmit frequencies when making their calls.  Look for Wasabi on all bands, on CW, phone, PSK and RTTY.  QSL direct to the QSL manager shown on the Pileup DX Society website (click on Wasabi Island disaster).  Donations to support the operation may also be made on the website.

Amateur Radio Antenna Review Form

Amateur Radio Antenna Review Form Version 1.0
Name of Antenna________________________
Reviewer Callsign_________

Type of Antenna: (check all that apply)
( ) Commercial dipole that seems to work better than any dipole I've ever built
( ) Off center fed dipole that works better than a regular dipole
( ) Vertical that doesn't need any radials
( ) 6 foot whip that works great on 6m - 160m
( ) Old design from Handbook someone is selling as a new idea
( ) A dipole or dipole variant I'm selling to unsuspecting people
( ) I don't know
( ) Other _________ (specify)

Owned Antenna For:
( ) 0 - 6 Months
( ) 6 - 12 Months
( ) More than 30 years
( ) Never owned one but I think it's great

Why Antenna is Great: (check all that apply)
( ) Got a 59 / 599 report from several stations
( ) Is stronger in comparison tests against my old crappy antenna
( ) Worked a guy in ____________ (print country)
( ) Neighbor / XYL can't see it
( ) Antenna annoys Neighbor / XYL
( ) Manual good translation from Chinese large help in assemblage
( ) Antenna gain specification is in dBd and not evil dBi
( ) Heard on 80m roundtable it was good
( ) Can be fed with: (check all that apply)
              ( ) Any length of coax
              ( ) RG-58 or RG-8
              ( ) Specific length of "special" coax (included in box)
( ) Low SWR (1 to 1) across entire:
              ( ) Band
              ( ) RF Spectrum
              Antenna Tuner Required To Get Low SWR: Yes / No (Circle all that apply)
( ) Antenna has a cool name
( ) Antenna as good as multiple stacked four element yagis when condx are good
( ) Repels lightning
( ) Antenna includes mystery black box

Overall rating: ( ) Fine Business   ( ) Magic   ( ) Dead Full Quieting  ( ) 5 out of 5