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) if they are doing business with the FCC, whether it involves outside plant, inside, wireless, or wireline communications.

Called the Commission Registration System (CORES), and originally planned to be available March 27, 2000, CORES was intentionally delayed by the FCC. According to Tammy Watson in the Office of the Managing Director of the Financial Operations Division at the FCC, it will be delayed by several weeks, but an FRN will still be required by the 2001 deadline.

The delay occurred when there was some confusion 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 10-digit 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 FCC more effectively forecast, assess, and collect regulatory fees; track enforcement of fines and forfeiture actions; monitor and collect penalties; manage the granting of waivers and exemptions; and provide information to the public.

Many of the FCC’s electronic licensing systems will request an FRN either during the login 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, the 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 login numbers or passwords for FCC electronic licensing systems. Each electronic licensing system has a different login procedure and, depending on the system you want to access, you may have to continue using their login and passwords. The licensing systems may prompt you for your FRN/Password in addition to, or instead of, their current login 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 Telecommunica-tions Bureau’s Universal Licensing System (ULS) will automatically be registered in CORES. Those entities will receive a registration letter concerning the conversion to CORES and FRN.

An electrical contracting firm 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, 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 make changes electronically, 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 which can be obtained 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.