The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) wants your number. Contractors have until February 2, 2001, to contact the FCC and obtain a FCC Registration Number (FRN).

FRNs will be required of everyone doing business with the FCC, whether it involves outside plant, inside, wireless or wireline communications.

FCC is calling it the Commission Registration System (CORES). Although it was planned to be available on March 27, 2000, just before then the FCC took action to delay the implementation of the FRN and CORES programs. According to Tammy Watson in the Office of the Managing Director of the Financial Operations Division at FCC, it will be delayed by several weeks, but an FRN still will be required by the 2001 deadline.

The delay occurred when there was some confusion in the field about the earlier date being a mandatory sign-up date, not the beginning of the program. For this reason, the FCC postponed the start-up; however, the 2001 deadline remains firm.

The FRN number will be especially important to contractors who work with projects involving radio licensing for clients such as the "guns and hoses" (police and fire) for public safety, oil pipelines, railroads, utility companies and others. The CORES will assign FRNs as unique identifiers. CORES will allow registrants to obtain a separate FCC Registration Number to identify subsidiaries or sub-agencies.

"The FRN is required for both fee and non-fee users," said Wayne V. Black, telecommunications attorney with the Washington, D.C., law firm of Keller and Heckman.

The FRN, assigned by the CORES, is a single identifying number that will be required for anyone doing business with the Commission. It will be used by all Commission financial, authorization of service, and enforcement systems. CORES will provide a central standard repository for basic regulatee and licensee information, and will help the Commission more effectively forecast, assess, and collect regulatory fees; track enforcement of fines and forfeiture actions; monitor and collect penalties; manage the grant of waivers and exemptions; and provide information to the public.

The FCC Registration Number is a 10-digit number that is assigned to an entity registering with the CORES. The entity that you register will have a unique FRN that is used to identify each entity with the Commission.

An FRN is necessary. Many of FCC's electronic licensing systems will request a FRN either during the log-in process or during the filing of the application. Without an FRN, a contractor or job might not receive proper credit for regulatory or application fees. The Commission's electronic or paper remittance advice Form 159 must include an FRN; without one, FCC might not process an application and may return it.

Some contractors or jobs use a frequency coordinator. Of those frequency coordinators, some offer this FRN registration service.

The FRN does not replace other log-in numbers or passwords for FCC electronic licensing systems. Each electronic licensing system has a different log-in procedure and, depending on the licensing system you want to access, you may have to continue using their log-in and passwords. The licensing systems may prompt you for your FRN/Password in addition to or instead of their current log-in process.

"There is one bit of good news," Black said. "If you were previously registered with a wireless license, you are automatically registered."

Your FRN will be public information, but a password is not. Therefore, only an authorized person who knows your password can access or modify your FRN data. FCC passwords, which are confidential and case sensitive, should have a minimum of six characters and a maximum of 15 characters.

How to get an FRN

There are two ways to obtain an FRN. Most entities that have previously registered with the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau's Universal Licensing System (ULS) will automatically be registered in CORES; reregistering with CORES is unnecessary. Those entities will receive a registration letter concerning the conversion to CORES and FRN.

An electrical contracting company or individual contractor can also register electronically for an FRN at www.fcc.gov and click on the CORES Registration link, or by filing FCC Form 160, CORES Registration. To obtain this form, which includes mailing instructions, call the FCC's Form Distribution Center at 1-800-418-FORM [3676].
Changes or updates to your name, address, contact representative name, contact address, contact telephone number and contact e-mail address may be made in two ways. To update or to change your CORES data electronically, simply access the FCC's Web page at www.fcc.gov and click on the CORES link.

Alternatively, you may use FCC Form 161, CORES Update/Change Form. FCC Form 161 can be obtained through the Internet at www.fcc.gov/formpage.html or by calling the FCC's Form Distribution Center at 1-800-418-FORM [3676]. Mailing instructions are found on the form.

The entire process should take only a few minutes; however, it's best to complete it early rather than risking a project delay because the paperwork has not been completed.
HARLER, a contributing editor to Electrical Contractor, is based in Strongsville, Ohio. He can be reached at (440) 238-4556 or charler@compuserve.com.