FCC Universal Licensing System

It’s an ungainly name. The link is a bit abstruse. The color scheme is, well, bold. But this capability works! At least it did for us and in doing so saved us the entire cost of our license — a kudo-worthy thing.

Medically bound to near-shore waters (now past us) we were operating with an MMSI that was US only. When we needed it, it was fast and easy to get through BOAT/US. Wanting to begin installing the offshore-suite, I began watching prices carefully.

Suddenly there was a SALE! And just as suddenly I realized we were still dragging the old MMSI around. It happened when I began filling out the programming form* for the AIS Transponder. Arghhhh.  It was a four-day sale — including a Saturday and a Sunday. To repeat, Arghhh!

I went to the FCC ULS and filled out everything required for a station license. I provided my payment information. I hit submit and resigned myself to having missed a lucrative opportunity.

On Sunday just before noon, I got an alert my credit card company had paid the FCC. I decided to check the site to see what the prediction for license delivery might be.

There sat the completed license, ready for download. I had plenty of time to fax it to the merchant doing the programming. License cost $160. Savings on AIS and piece parts  $170.

Barely 72 hours processing time — like I said, Kudos.
[Update: 14:21 EDT 06 April 11, Paper License received in today’s mail.]

*Interestingly, AIS of this type must be programmed by the supplier — we non-professionals** can’t be trusted, don’t ya know. On the form, one is asked how far the GPS is from the port side. The answer must be given in “nearest whole meters.” Ours is literally on the rail. This would be zero whole meters from the port side. When I hit submit I received an error message that “0” was an unacceptable programming input. So now, instead of being randomly wrong we are systematically so. If zero is unacceptable perhaps we should be supplying our data in Roman numerals.

** Two years ago we were being pursued by a 920 foot ship up the Chesapeake. We couldn’t see it in bright sun or on the radar. An hour later we were passed by the 92 foot tug still announcing itself over AIS as 920 feet long. And they make us sign up for irrevocable third party programming?

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