FCC denies Petition from Anchorage Volunteer Examiner Coordinator
Waiver would allow amateurs with expired licenses to be re-licensed without retesting.
On July 6, 2011, the Anchorage (Alaska) Volunteer Examiner Coordinator, filed a Petition for Rule Making seeking a blanket waiver of Section 97.505(a).
The waiver would allow volunteer examiners (VEs) to give individuals whose amateur radio operator licenses have expired, examination credit for examination elements previously passed so that former licensees can be re-licensed without retesting. (The petition was accepted by the FCC and assigned RM-11629).
In a January 23 , 2012, Order (WT Docket No. 11-130) adopted January 23, 2012, the FCC denied the request.
The Commission said, “To demonstrate that an applicant is qualified to be issued a new or upgraded amateur radio operator license, a person must pass an examination, or otherwise receive credit, for the examination element(s) required to qualify for the relevant operator license.”
“A person receives credit for an examination element if he or she presents a Certificate of Successful Completion of an Examination (CSCE) showing that he or she passed the element within the previous 365 days, or an unexpired (or expired but within the two-year grace period for renewal5) operator license that required passage of that examination element.”
With one narrow exception (a Technician Class license held before March 21, 1987, receives credit for examination Element 3) element credit is not given for an expired amateur operator license. Prior to this date, the written examination for a Technician Class and a General Class operator license was the same.
In 1987, the FCC split examination Element 3 into Element 3A for the Technician Class license and Element 3B for the General Class license, but provided that licensees who had passed the prior consolidated examination element would still receive credit for the written examination required for a General Class license.
Anchorage VEC asserts that grant of the waiver will permit individuals whose amateur radio license grants have expired to obtain a new license grant at an early date, thereby allowing them to again participate in normal amateur radio activities.
It also states that several potential beneficiaries of this action are of advanced years and are interested in prompt resolution of this matter. The waiver request was placed on public notice and comments were evenly split between those supporting the request and those opposing it.
The FCC said that Section 1.925 of the Commission's Rules provides that a waiver may be granted if it is shown that:
(a) - the underlying purpose of the rule(s) would not be served or would be frustrated by application to the instant case, and grant of the requested waiver would be in the public interest; or
(b) - in light of unique or unusual circumstances, application of the rule(s) would be inequitable, unduly burdensome, or contrary to the public interest, or the applicant has no reasonable alternative.
The Commission concluded that the Anchorage VEC has met neither requirement. “Allowing a licensee whose license is active or can be renewed to receive element credit for examination elements previously passed is consistent with the basis and purpose of the amateur service, which includes encouragement and improvement of the service through rules which provide for advancing skills in both the communication and technical phases of the art,” FCC said.
“Individuals who do not hold a current or renewable amateur radio operator license, however, regardless of whether they have held one in the past, must demonstrate their qualifications to be amateur radio operators before obtaining a new license.”
The FCC ruled that a grant of the requested waiver to allow examination credit to be granted for any previously held amateur service operator license would not serve the underlying purpose of the rule.
Additionally, the Commission noted that amateur radio testing opportunities are widely available. VEs can administer tests at any location and time convenient to them and the examinee.
Consequently, Anchorage VEC has not shown that requiring retesting of examinees whose operator licenses expired more than two years ago, including those of advanced years, is inequitable or unduly burdensome, or that these examinees have no reasonable alternative.
“The Anchorage VEC has not shown good cause for a waiver of the amateur service rules to allow VEs to give examination credit to an examinee who holds an amateur radio operator license document that has been expired for more than two years. Therefore, we decline to waive Section 97.505(a) of the Commission’s Rules.”
Accordingly, the waiver request filed by the Anchorage VEC on July 6, 2011 was denied. The Order, released January 24, 2012, was signed by Scot Stone, Deputy Chief, Mobility Division, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau