Around Christmastime, a furor arose over a petition to change the rules regarding the use of digital modes. The petition number is RM-11392. You can find it on the FCC website by going to http://gullfoss2.fcc.gov/prod/ecfs/comsrch_v2.cgi and entering the petition number in the Proceeding text box. The petition will be the highest numbered document returned.
    While the petition is interesting in and of itself, what's more interesting is how some hams got all excited about this petition. Many thought that rules changes were imminent, and they urged everyone to rush right over to the FCC website and comment. While it's a good thing for hams to be vigilant about proposed rule changes, this petition was nowhere near being turned into a rule.
    On the Web page, "FCC Rulemaking Process"
(http://www.fcc.gov/rules.html), the FCC describes the four steps that occur before a petition is translated into rules changes:
    1. Notice of Inquiry (NOI). During this phase, they gather comments on the petition.
    2. Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM). If they determine that a petition has merit, they move to this stage. These are the rules changes that the FCC itself proposes to make, based on the petition and the comments received.
    3. Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM).  Changes may be made to the NPRM after receiving  comments on the NPRM.
    4. Report & Order (R&O). The R&O is the document  containing the rules changes or an explanation of why  no rules changes are being  made at this time.
    At the time when everyone was getting excited about this, there was no NPRM in the list of documents relating to RM-11392. The petition was filed on 3/27/07, released for comments on 8/28/07, and the first comment wasn't entered until 11/20/07. Only two other comments were entered until all the recent publicity. This particular petition is still a long way from becoming a Part 97 rule, and if I had to guess, I'd say that it will never even get to the NPRM stage.
    Don't get me wrong. I am not saying that it isn't important to read and comment on petitions. But before you get your knickers in a twist over a particular petition or proposal, you need to know where it is in the process. This process can be excruciatingly slow sometimes, but slow is not always a bad thing. By not rushing petitions through the rulemaking process, the FCC ensures that it gets comments from all concerned and that all those who are interested in an issue can take their time to draft a really cogent comment.

Dan Romanchik,

(When he's not scanning the FCC website or eHam.net for the latest ham radio controversy, KB6NU works CW and PSK on the HF bands and blogs about ham radio at www.kb6nu.com. You can reach him by e-mail at cwgeek@kb6nu.com.)

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My guess is that most of us have insurance of some form on our radio equipment.  It may be everything that we want.  On the other hand, it may be a little lacking.
You may not know that ARRL has had "all-risk" and "all-gear" insurance available to ARRL members for many years.  This is the type of insurance that will cover every piece of ham equipment, your computer(s) and the programs used with your ham activities . . . And give you the full replacement value of any insured item that is lost through any accidental occurrence.  Yes, I said replacement value.  I should also add that people I know who have benefited from this insurance say collecting on it is fully no-hassle.
You can check into this insurance "from the comfort of your own home" by going to www.arrl.org/FandES/field/regulations/insurance/equipment.html. Whether you decide to buy this insurance, it is still a good deal.

Dan Romanchik  KB8NU

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