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RF Info and the FCC Licensing Project

Mission Statement

In order to ensure that the concerns, needs and issues of the thousands of professional sound recordists in the United States who use the UHF spectrum on a daily basis, can be heard by the FCC, it is imperative that as many users as possible obtain a license from the FCC.  The basic goals of this project are:

To educate Production Sound individuals who use radio equipment in the lawful use of these devices, and to understand the privileges and responsibilities of licensed operation.

To remove the liability of unlicensed operation of wireless transmitters. The FCC can levy fines of up to $11,000, per transmitter, with up to one year in Federal Prison.

To give the individual user, as a licensed operator, the capability of lodging an official complaint to the FCC,  when their licensed operation is being compromised by spurious transmissions generated by unlicensed or incorrectly used operators using the UHF spectrum.  Other operators transmitting above their legal power, unlicensed “white space” devices (WSDs), aka: TVBD’s, and any number of activities that compromise the operation of a licensed station, when reported to the FCC by licensed stations, will be investigated.

To allow the priority operation of licensed low power stations such as wireless microphones over White Space Devices.  A licensed user will be able to contact the WSD coordinator and give them your license number, location, and frequencies and all White Space Devices in that area must by law shut down.

To allow the licensed operator the legal right to transmit at 250 milliwatts.

To allow the possibility of responding to proposed changes in FCC operations and allocations, as a large group of licensed operators in consensus.

To set up and maintain (via JWSoundNet) a forum for discussion and clarification of Licensed operation, news pertaining to the FCC’s projected use of the spectrum, along with the development of techniques and easy-to-use forms for interacting with the FCC and your local Frequency Coordinators…

How to obtain a License

An FCC license is obtainable by any US citizen intending to operate within the US and its territories, for a fee of $145.  The application process, however, is daunting.  The application process is fairly complex, arcane, and must be letter perfect in order to be processed by the FCC.

The Process:

1.  One must obtain a FRN (FCC Registration Number).

Go to: https://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/coresWeb/publicHome.do

Click on Register and Receive Your FRN; you will be directed to a page where you determine Registration Type. Continue through the process until receive your FRN and create a password.

2.  Download FCC Form 601, the application. You will also need Form 601 – Schedule D and Schedule H.  Once you have found the answers to all of the questions you then go on line, log in with your FRN, and enter the data on line.

3.  Submit the completed form.  You will get a file application number.

4.  Go back on line and pay the $145 fee to the FCC.

Alternately, you can retain someone that knows how to do this.

One option is to contact Bill Ruck, Broadcast Engineer, in San Francisco.  He’s been through this enough times to be able to complete the information on line.  He holds Broadcast Auxiliary Low Power Radio Station Authorization WQMP992 and an FCC General Radiotelephone License.

Bill can be contacted at 415-564-1450 or billruck@earthlink.net

The process requires a fair amount of time and great attention to detail, and the Bill is asking a $100 fee for completing the process.  The Project has endeavored to make the process as simple as possible in order to get as many operators licensed as possible.  If the process is followed correctly, a license will be granted by the FCC in about three months, with a total outlay of $245.

Submitted, Jay Patterson, CAS, WQNJ498

Code of Federal Regulations – Title 47 – Telecommunications

Relevant excerpts of FCC Code with highlighted portions relating to this discussion

Additional discussion about this topic

“RF Day” Streaming Video

“RF and What the Digital TV Transition Means for Radio Mic Users”

Presented by Tim Holly in Burbank on July 18, 2009.

LINK to IATSE Local 695 for complete information on this topic

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My understanding is that these part 74 licenses are for a single specified frequency.  Has that changed?  In other words, to be legal wouldn't one need one license per radio, and then there is the issue(s) of freq. agility?

phil p

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Holy carp, Batman! My eyes crossed by page 4 of the main application.

Glad there's someone out there who can make a little spending $ expediting / correcting folks' damaged vision.

Before I get too far along, what may be the downside(s) of licensure (if any)?

-- Jan

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I think the point was, if you have an FCC license and you experience a violation against you, you can lodge a complaint that seems/is more legitimate to the FCC.

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There's a concept scholars call "regulatory capture" where government agencies end up serving the needs of the industries they are supposed to regulate rather than the public interest. The FCC comes up in conversations about regulatory capture.

Although Baker is a sellout, she is barred from lobbying the FCC for two years (and I think agreed to longer)... but I believe Congress is fair game. Worse than Baker, Comcast hired Jordan Goldstein, who once worked for Michael Copps; and Rudy Brioche, who worked for Jonathan Adelstein. Copps and Adelstein were the FCC's most vocal opponents of unfettered media mergers.

Back to Jeff's post, I think a lot of this stuff is getting discussed in the FCC's Notice of Proposed Rulemaking 10-235. Here's Shure's comment on that NPRM:

http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs/comment/view?id=6016375022

Boy, crazy times.

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Thank goodness for the government stepping in!  Do you know how many individuals our radio mics have hurt worldwide?

Answer:  none

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My understanding is that these part 74 licenses are for a single specified frequency.  Has that changed?  In other words, to be legal wouldn't one need one license per radio, and then there is the issue(s) of freq. agility?

phil p

Nope! One Low Power Broadcast Auxiliary License will cover:

76.00000 - 88.00000 MHz (up to 50mW)

174.00000 - 216.00000 MHz (up to 50mW. Note: ALL Comtek in 216MHz is NOT covered by this license, and is in a band we are NOT supposed to use! When enough of us have licenses, we can negotiate with ComTek.)

470.00000 - 698.00000 MHz (up to 250Mw. All American Lectro freqs.)

Nationwide usage, including Alaska, Hawaii, and all US Territories, for EIGHT years

This is the license for a local company pretty much covering the spectrum nationwide.

Don't know what process they went through to obtain it.

http://wireless2.fcc.gov/UlsApp/UlsSearch/licenseFreqSum.jsp?licKey=3234338

The steps are outlined in the first post in the thread. Get an FRN, send a check to Bill Ruck for $100 (or fill it out yourself), pay the FCC $145, wait three months and receive the license.

Holy carp, Batman! My eyes crossed by page 4 of the main application.

Glad there's someone out there who can make a little spending $ expediting / correcting folks' damaged vision.

Before I get too far along, what may be the downside(s) of licensure (if any)?

-- Jan

Other than agreeing to operate responsibly (and the $245!) there is no downside and Mondo upside. A licensed operator has status over unlicensed operation, can report abuse from TVBDs (white space devices), and can make your voice heard when re-allocation is being discussed.

Back to Jeff's post, I think a lot of this stuff is getting discussed in the FCC's Notice of Proposed Rulemaking 10-235. Here's Shure's comment on that NPRM:

http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs/comment/view?id=6016375022

Boy, crazy times.

Correct. Shure is one of the leading advocates for our usage of the spectrum.

I am a bit confused are we all suppose to have a FCC License? Looks like you need a PhD to fill this thing out

Yes! To operate legally in the above specified bands, you are required to be a licensed operator. FCC is not strictly enforcing, but if they do, they may fine you $11,000/channel (capped at $82,000) and/or one year in Federal Prison. Within the last two years, the FCC has added over two hundred people to their investigative/enforcement area. GET A LICENSE!

Please feel free to visit the Local 695 pages dedicated to this issue for updates and related news articles.

http://www.695.com/html/rf-info.html

Attached is my license, for your review...

Jay Patterson, CAS

Vice President, IATSE Local 695

WQNJ498

32672662011261415924.pdf

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Perhaps they should be investigating people with garage door openers too.  It's a scam to raise revenue.  Mondo upside?  Get real.  They will only listen to your concerns if you have a warehouse full of money, lobbyist and lawyers.

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Perhaps they should be investigating people with garage door openers too.  It's a scam to raise revenue.  Mondo upside?  Get real.  They will only listen to your concerns if you have a warehouse full of money, lobbyist and lawyers.

The best part about a discussion group is that anyone can say what they will, but "scam" hurts.

Mirror, this particular project (The FCC Licensing Project) is the combined effort of some of the top minds in our craft, and we have been working almost two years to bring to our colleagues an easy way to deal with the situation. Tim Holly, for example, testified before the FCC a three years ago on behalf of the AMPTP and us users, which resulted in several positive changes in the Code of Federal Regulations. Garage openers are in an unlicensed band.

Jay

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" It's a scam to raise revenue "

Government Red Tape ?? yes

Bureaucratic Boondoggle?? probably

royal PITA ?? of course

but Scam??  nope

" Mondo upside? "

you are legal.

like it or not, without it, you may not be legal

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The best part about a discussion group is that anyone can say what they will, but "scam" hurts.

Mirror, this particular project (The FCC Licensing Project) is the combined effort of some of the top minds in our craft, and we have been working almost two years to bring to our colleagues an easy way to deal with the situation. Tim Holly, for example, testified before the FCC a three years ago on behalf of the AMPTP and us users, which resulted in several positive changes in the Code of Federal Regulations. Garage openers are in an unlicensed band.

Jay

I'm calling Bill today.  I want to be able to raise a (legal) stink over TVBDs (the whole idea pisses me off).

Jay's the man!

phil p

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Do I think that there needs to be a feq. niche for wireless mics?  Yes.  Do I think that I need a licence to turn on a radio mic that's only powerful enough to cover a stage?  No. 

Scam hurt you? I would hope that you have thicker skin than that.  And it's not even your scam.  Come on.

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" Mondo upside? "

you are legal.

like it or not, without it, you may not be legal

Let's ask the ACLU if being legal matters.

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I'm calling Bill today.  I want to be able to raise a (legal) stink over TVBDs (the whole idea pisses me off).

Jay's the man!

phil p

Bring your warehouse of lawyers, lobbyists and money for best results!

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" Do I think that I need a licence to turn on a radio mic that's only powerful enough to cover a stage?  No. "

What you, or I, or any of us think is not what the law is.

What I think is: there are a lot of unnecessary, unconstitutional, useless, and outdated laws out there...

but they are ' laws' and they are out there!

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Thanks for all the information. I am going to apply for one since after reading all the documentation there doesn't seem to be a downside to having it

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Could someone clarify something for me? 

Is this license the same one that is required to purchase/operate Lectrosonics block 944 gear?  I like the idea of having wireless in a block that is:

1) Specifically reserved by the FCC (about as much future-proofing as I could imagine)

2) Clear of competition from other signals nationwide (???)

3) Has teeny tiny 1/4 wave whip antennas

If this license wouldn't cover usage on Block 944, could someone point me toward where I could find out about such a license?  Also, does anyone here have any experience working in those frequencies?

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Bring your warehouse of lawyers, lobbyists and money for best results!

Meaning...what?

I still believe the likelihood of me ever being busted by the FCC for radio mic usage on my little jobs is extremely remote--this isn't about that.  I want to voice my concerns to the FCC and etc about the (serious) TVBD issue.  Only people with licenses will have standing in that discussion.  Google et al have lots of money and lawyers, and their clients have the licenses to take part in the debate.  I want to be heard as well.  I think that complaining about TVBDs etc without getting licensed is like complaining about software you haven't paid for.

phil p

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Meaning...what?

I still believe the likelihood of me ever being busted by the FCC for radio mic usage on my little jobs is extremely remote--this isn't about that.  I want to voice my concerns to the FCC and etc about the (serious) TVBD issue.  Only people with licenses will have standing in that discussion.  Google et al have lots of money and lawyers, and their clients have the licenses to take part in the debate.  I want to be heard as well.  I think that complaining about TVBDs etc without getting licensed is like complaining about software you haven't paid for.

phil p

+1 I agree 100 percent and in the remote and unlikely event anyone ever asks for it I have the license

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" Is this license the same one that is required to purchase/operate Lectrosonics block 944 gear? "

No

" I like the idea of having wireless in a block that is:

1) Specifically reserved by the FCC (about as much future-proofing as I could imagine) none

2) Clear of competition from other signals nationwide (???) none

3) Has teeny tiny 1/4 wave whip antennas ok, one out of three "

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Care to elaborate?

Ethan, what Senator means is:

The 944 band is reserved for uses other than ours. People licensed under Part 74 may not use the 944 band. When I get a moment, I'll dig through the Code of Regs and post the precise language. Warners bought a boatload of 944 only to have to beg Lectro to work out a deal on replacing them.

1. Though the FCC has promised to allocate two channels (less than one Lectro block!) of UHF for wireless microphone use in each city, this hasn't happened yet. This doesn't mean that a licensed user can't use other free areas in the available UHF spectrum, but there will (maybe someday) be a small space reserved exclusively for Part 74 users.

2. Available space is at a premium, and unused spaces differ in each market. Different cities have acquired license to use various channels for Public Safety, and these differ from city to city. Part of the responsibility of being a licensed user is to know exactly where it is OK to operate in your area.

IF A GROUP OF PART 74 LICENSEES GET TOGETHER AND COORDINATE INPUT TO THEIR LOCAL FREQUENCY COORDINATOR, THEY CAN EFFECTIVELY ELIMINATE WHITE SPACE DEVICES FROM USING ENTIRE BLOCKS.....

3. Senator has a sense of humor.

Jay P.

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