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Latest FCC Fiasco on Reducing License Cost

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RandyKnowles

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Greeting all -

The FCC has, once again, messed up on supposed efforts to reduce the total cost of a GMRS license. The current FCC Docket is MD 14-92. Details can be found in my filing with the Commission, a copy of which is attached for those who might be interested.

Its time we users got together to do something to change this intolerable situation! Randy Knowles, KAA 8142.
 

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blastco2

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Thanks for your work, creating and filing that with our FCC. What can we do to help?

One more thing.... Dumb question.... What is"MD"?
 

RandyKnowles

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blastco2 -

Once FCC cooperation to recommend elimination of the Application Fee to Congress has been gained, I will then suggest that you contract your Congressman and/or Seantor, if he or she is on the approrpiate Committee or SubCommittee. I have a list of which Congressmen and Senators those are, and from which districts/states. MD is the Managing Director's Office of the FCC, and that is not a dumb question at all.

I plan to write guidelines/suggestions for GMRS groups on how to contact and conduct a meeting with Congressional aides in their local offices on the Fee issue later this summer.

Cheers! Randy Knowles, KAA 8142
 

Dantian

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At FCC the docket numbers are typically prefaced with the initials of the bureau or office that handles that subject. In case of the fees it is the Managing Director (MD). For GMRS it will often be Wireless Telecommunications (WT) or Enforcement Bureau (EB).
 

WB4CS

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May I ask a question? Why do you feel that the current fee for a GMRS license should be reduced? How is it excessive? How would the reduction in cost effect things like enforcement of GMRS spectrum (which is already almost nonexistent.)

$85 for a 5 year license doesn't sound excessive to me. I could see an argument for doing away with the fee and license since 90% of GMRS traffic is unlicensed FRS/GMRS bubblepack users. In the grand scheme of things I'd be more upset about the unlicensed users on GMRS than I would the fee.
 

RandyKnowles

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WB4CS -

Well I covered numerous reasons why the Application Fee should be reduced or elimninated all together at some length in my Comments. Briefly, firstly, the $65 charge bears no relation at all to the work the FCC does to process the application. Secondly, since GMRS applications involve no examination of any technical information, it should be on an equal footing with similar Amateur Radio applications - no Application Fee at all. Thirdly, since the $90 cost of a license is typically more than DOUBLE the cost of a PAIR cheap FRS Walkie-talkies, the arbitrary high charge is an extremely strong deterrent to Bubble-Pack users obtaining a license. It is precisely becasue I am upset about such unlicensed operation on GMRS that I am uging the Commission to eliminate this deterrent for Bubble-Pack users. Fourthly, elimination or drastic reduction of the GMRS license cost will strongly stimulate use of the service for public service by volunteers for such entities as the Red Cross Disaster Service, Emergency Management Agencies (EMA), CERT Teams, Civil Defense, REACT, National Weather Service Operation Skywarn, Salvation Army Disaster Relief, the Seattle Earthquake Communication Hubs, etc.

As outlined in my Comments, drastic reduction or elimination of the Application Fee has no relation to the level of FCC enforcement for GMRS. That potentially could be affected by changes in the Regulatory Fee, as mentioned in my Comments. However, EB (Enforcment Bureau) does not handle GMRS at the Bereau level, but rather, "GMRS is handled by the local field offices on a case by case basis". In my own experience over the years, if you build a good rapport with your local Field Office, you do get response on well-founded and well documented complaints, provided that you limit the number and frequency of them bearing in mind the varied and heavy workload of these offices, like many government agencies.

My on-the-air experience in 47 states of the Union, plus Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands does not bear out your caustic comment that 90% of GMRS traffic is from unlicensed Bubble-Pack users, but I have not been in the northern part of your state. Disciplined operation of an organized repeater system often resuls in Bubble-Pack users relocating other channels, which is our experience here in Chicago.

I hope this answers your questions. Randy Knowles, KAA 8142
 

rescuecomm

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Fourthly, elimination or drastic reduction of the GMRS license cost will strongly stimulate use of the service for public service by volunteers for such entities as the Red Cross Disaster Service, Emergency Management Agencies (EMA), CERT Teams, Civil Defense, REACT, National Weather Service Operation Skywarn, Salvation Army Disaster Relief, the Seattle Earthquake Communication Hubs
Are you sure this is what GMRS users want? When myself and a group of guys put a GMRS repeater on the air in 1987, a construction company came on about 4 months later on the same frequency. During working hours, our repeater was useless due to interference. The relief came when system licenses went away in the 1990's. Don't you think that doing away with the license will bring the other commercial or businesses back?

Bob
 

Dantian

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Don't you think that doing away with the license will bring the other commercial or businesses back?
Bob please read carefully. No GMRS users with any sense have proposed doing away with the license. Certainly not Mr. Knowles.

The FCC did propose to de-license GMRS, but that proposal is several years old, received much opposition, and there are no signs the FCC will take any action on it soon.

(In order to de-license, FCC would have to re-classify GMRS as a form of CB. That is the law. This has been much discussed in other threads here.)

The FCC decision to do away with company / organization / institutional GMRS licenses was a very good one because it made individual persons accountable for operation instead of diffusing that responsibility.

But it had various effects, such as people blowing it off because it costs too much. The FCC kept the cost the same even after it deleted most of the work needed to process the simplified license application. This makes no sense.

Many radio users are rugged individualists who resent sending all those bucks to Washington for a piece of paper. Government auditors finding that the FCC has a fat slush fund, keeping excess money, didn't help.

Volunteer organization complained. Instead of the organization having a license, each volunteer had to pony up $85 (now $90) to get his own individual license. They consider it a hardship on the volunteers.

The FCC's idea then is to get rid of the license, let everybody jam each other with repeaters and no responsibility, no license that can be taken away. A better idea is to keep the license but reduce the cost.

That is what the FCC's Managing Director proposed several times, but never followed through. And that is the situation we are in again. I think Randy Knowles is trying to address it.
 

RandyKnowles

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rescuecomm -

I well remember the days when personal users had to fight commercial users tooth and nail for their place in Class A Citizens' Radio (GMRS). I was an integral part of the team from the Personal Radio Steering Group that worked for YEARS to achieve the result in Docket 87-265 when the FCC eliminated those commercial users from obtaining any new licenses. (I started going to the FCC about Class A alone, as only one individual, in 1974.)

I firmly believe that GMRS repeater groups have as much to contribute to public service and emergency communications as our brothers on Amateur UHF and VHF repeaters. But remember that, similar to Amateur Radio, every GMRS operator must be auhtorized under a license issued to an individual. The point is that individual licensees will remain in control of the systems being used for such public service. I am NOT suggesting that public service organizations should be permitted to obtain GMRS licenses. I am suggesting that impediments to each volunteer being authorized under an indivifdual GMRS license should be REMOVED.

I hope this answers your questions. Randy Knowles, KAA 8142
 

RandyKnowles

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jwilson2013 -

The FCC does NOT determine the Application Fee component of the cost of the GMRS license. Rather this amount is set by Congress as a matter of FEDERAL LAW. The FCC only raises the Application Fee component as mandated by Congress in the Communications Act of 1934, as amended. It has no discretion in when or how much it makes such increases. This is what happened on June 6th.

My Comments filed with the FCC goes into this in detail if you would like to know more. You can read them by clicking on the link in the first message in this thread.

Cheers! Randy Knowles, KAA 8142
 

UPMan

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FCC might take exception to the remark that no license is required to operate on the FRS channels. Like the CB radio service, with FRS the license is implicit...or in the FCC's language, they are "license-by-rule" services. This broadly means that, as long as you obey the rules, you have a license to use the service. If you violate the rules, you can still be subject to fines and other penalties for violating the service rules, such penalties can include revocation of your implicit license to operate under any condition.
 

RandyKnowles

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UPMan -

You are correct about the technical "licensed by rule". Nothwithstanding such de facto "licensing", in reality this means no license at all. To my knowledge, the FCC has never sought to "revoke" a license by rule (and I suspect this is not even possible). Rather, if you look at EB releases about CB violations, the Commission takes the position that violation of the rules means that the license by rule is void, and it treats all such operation as "unlicensed", with appropriate serious sanctions under Section 301 et seq, of the Communications Act.

The point is that public perception is that "licensed by rule" mean UNLICENSED, and many such users believe they therefore have no responsibility and behave accordingly. In reality "licensed by rule" is tantamount to unlicensed. Can you really imagine, by any stretch, the FCC taking enforcement action against say, a 9 year old, for violating the FRS Rules for swearing? That is why FCC licenses in Part 95 have always been limited to individuals over the age of 18. There is a responsible person that actually can be prosecuted.

I have acknowledged the technicality of licensed by rule in my Comments, but that is another example of the FCC ignoring reality in favor of an esoteric legal fiction.

Randy Knowles, KAA 8142
 
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RandyKnowles

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Reply Comments in FCC MD DOcket 14-92

Today was the deadline for Reply Comments in this FCC Docket (MD 14-92). I have filed Reply Comments, largely to addess legal arguments that the Commission lacks the necessary statutory authority to make such changes to Regulatory Fees. For anyone interested, I attach a copy. I did some research on the amount of FCC rulemaking and enfocement specifically related to GMRS, and the results were interesting.

Cheers. Randy Knowles, KAA 8142

View attachment Reply Comments 14-92.pdf
 

KC8ESL

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Item 9 b and c, you really whacked the beehive there!

This could go one of three ways, (I'm going to play Capt. Obvious here):

1. They cite the fact that this is indeed true and lower the fee.
2. They cite the fact that this is indeed true and begin stronger regulation of the Part 95 bands.
3. (My prediction) they do nothing.

I would like to see either 1 or 2 happen. My wife is beginning to enjoy using a radio over a cellphone.
 

RandyKnowles

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KC8ESL -

I believe that GMRS enforcement will be driven by demands to Field Offices. Well documented complaints in a few cases that can serve as good examples do have some chance of real action, as revealed by the 7 cases I did find. They make for fascinating reading, and one of them was iniatiated specifically by a GMRS licensee making a complaint. The violator, a commercial business operating on GMRS without a license, was fined $12,800. In another case, also in response to a complaint about unlicensed business operations on a GMRS frequency, the violator was fined $10,000.00. In yet another case, also in response to a Complaint, a Ford Dealer was fined $4,000.00 for low power portable unlicensed use of a GMRS repeater input frequency. Presumably the other complaints about interference on GMRS frequencies also came from GMRS licensees.

In my own experience, over the years, I made 2 Complaints to my local FCC Field Office, and both of them were acted on within 30 days and the offfenders were promptly put off the air. One was a mall security company whose GMRS license was long expired, and who refused to cooperate with other legitimate licensees. The other was an illegal "business band" repeater operating on GMRS split interstitials before FRS was created.

I am not suggesting that FCC Field Offices have the resources to deal with HORDES of GMRS complaints. But I do suggest that FCC enforcement actions in GMRS come about because of legitimate, well documented complaints from GMRS licensees who are suffering real interference due to violations.

As far as what will happen in this Docket, bear in mind that many HUGELY influential oprganizations, such as the NAB (National Association of Broadcasters), DISH Network, DIRECTTV, etc. are all players here. I tried to write my comments as narrowly as possible to apply just to GMRS. I am hopeful that the Managing Director's Office does actually want to do this and that it will actually happen.

Cheers. Randy Knowles, KAA 8142
 
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There has been a qrm'er on 462.700 here locally. Transmitting the same tone as one of our repeaters and playing some Mexican station for several minutes, couple times a day. Then they'll stop and won't do it again for a few weeks. Been real difficult to df them. Literally driving me to consider changing the tones on the repeater (and re programming 50+ radios).



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rapidcharger

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The land of broken calculators.
For $85, They could at least take you out to dinner first.

That's too high.

I could see paying that much if some of the restrictions were removed, but if you were to get a 5 year license term today, I would be surprised if you could buy a new certified non-bubble back radio by the time the license was up for renewal.
 
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