Scheduled FCC computer system upgrades took a couple of days longer than anticipated, but the Universal Licensing System (ULS) — the repository for Amateur Radio licensing data and portal for all applications — came back online early on September 10, along with FCC e-mail and other systems that had been down for several days. The Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS) and the Electronic Document Management System (EDOCS) returned to service on September 8. During the outage, which began on September 2, it was not possible to file any Amateur Radio applications, including examination session documents, or conduct any license or application searches. Earlier this week, ARRL VEC Manager Maria Somma, AB1FM, said a lot of candidates and volunteer examiners had begun asking why new call signs or license upgrades had not yet been issued.
“We have a huge back log in our filing system that continues to grow!” she said on September 8, the day the ULS was supposed to be back online. “We already have approximately 75 examination sessions and over 500 applications waiting to be released to FCC.” Somma said she first wanted to make sure the ULS electronic batch filing system is working properly before attempting to file the backlog, which, she added, would take a day or so to release.
The FCC’s Chief Information Officer David A. Bray, said the computer system work included physically moving more than 200 different legacy servers from FCC headquarters to a commercial service provider. This move — a cost-saving measure, he explained — ran into trouble when it was determined that additional cabling was needed to complete the transition. “Unfortunately, this delayed completion of all of the system upgrades — even with the FCC team working around the clock throughout the holiday weekend,” Bray explained earlier this week.
Bray said it took seven moving vans to contain the servers being relocated. “With a massive server move of this scale — even with detailed planning, independent verification, and backup plans — the opportunity always exists for surprises, especially with legacy IT systems, nearly 400 program applications, and hundreds of servers,” he pointed out.
The requirement to pay a regulatory fee for Amateur Radio vanity call sign applications officially ended on September 3, but prospective vanity applicants have had to wait until the ULS was up and running again to file for an available call sign. The approximately 18-day vanity call sign waiting period will remain in place “for now,” the FCC has told ARRL.