The FCC has just approved new license fees for Amateur Radio and the GMRS. These fees are actually lower than the original fees proposed in August, which were highly contested by hams, but welcomed by GMRS licensees. While the new FCC license fees may alleviate some of the sticker shock from the original fees proposed by the Commission, it is welcome news for fans of the GMRS.
Without addressing region specifics of licensing costs - I’d have to say, in fairness to all, ham operators have zero reason to call ‘foul’ or claim unfairness when other categories get a break or reduction of their license fees/admin costs/initial fees, let alone frequency allocation expansion/new allocations for an unchanged cost.
If you take, internationally, the lowest rung of nationally approved range of ham allocations, the moderately common equiv a lot of the ham world uses, through to the expanded (and sometimes more flexible, with more mainstream limits occasionally) FCC or FCC comparable spec ham allocation range and restrictions, we already have a relative 'license to kill as far as radio frequency exploitation goes and the right to experiment and develop and adopt new tech which can fit within associated emission types/categories with the allocations, so in practice as far as value goes (even when you factor in exam costs and/or course attendance costs where needed), we pay peanuts for our ticket to ride and quite frankly anyone else is more entitled to call ‘foul’ on grounds of unfairness of costs.
In fact, and I hate to use the analogy despite it being hauntingly true, we are probably (in terms of allocation squatting and modes usable squatting) as guilty of underuse of a vast facility as the MOD and DOD and NATO/PACT combined when it comes to squatting on a ■■■■ load of under utilised and often cemetery level activity.
So I, for one, have zero legit grounds to question or call foul if license fees for zero qualifying (by assessment and exam evidence) leisure and commercial use of LMR actually gets an admin cost break in terms of fees and frequency expansion where there’s room and/or where modes permitted change according to best practice utilisation of relatively restricted range allocations goes.
The only time I’d question something fee wise to be questionable fairness or viability wise is where a disproportionate and/or unnecessarily allowance of extreme ERP usage is made available cheaply under license NOV’s, since with the super high adoption of license-free and licensed exempt allocations and questionable TA compliancy has lead to a lot more digital mode contribution to ambient in-band pollution and out of band harmonic pollution of the spectrum. If anything, more cost to discourage excesses and misuse of the highest guilty proportion would almost be an act of competency and fair due recognition on governments and federal agencies who actually have to inflict the managed changes.
So within sane grounds and extremes, any break in terms of cost or availability of service that isn’t going to naturally invite and open fair-usage abuse isn’t something to call foul on or condemn, especially from the rational minds in the ham world (we don’t need a break, we’ve had a pretty cheap and relatively undisturbed ride from before radio licenses existed).
Where fair and valid and not destructive goes, anything that makes wireless/radio comma more accessible even at the cost of TA compliance requirements isn’t bad when it comes to reduced cost or better value through expansion or legit expansion of scope of use.
I know those thoughts alone will bring out back stabbers in their droves (especially from the ham community) and put a virtual bounty or hit on my existence, but I’ve no fear about recognising positive change and being supportive of it and hope users of the revised aspects don’t see it as a free ride to abuse by rights of fair-usage vs fair availability to all licensees.
I’m already one leg deep into my obscurity grave, so fear of people’s reactions is the least of my concerns - if anything, I’m more concerned that radio usage evolves and knee-■■■■ reaction fuelled obsolescence though stagnation doesn’t destroy the radio world.
In fact, to extend my thoughts a bit further, if anyone deserves a price/cost break in general, it’s the commercial user services sectors - especially the minority use/scope segments of the LMR and non land mobile radio sectors.
Until very recently with compensation made to encourage DPMR and DMR making 446 MHz licensing for group and site Tier 1/2 setups more cost effective (sufficiently so that I’m going to sort out a group 446 permit for DMR as a contribution to a local radio group, so we’d use 446 via DMR to accommodate existing ham DMR gear and non hams on a common group op series once we’re past lockdown), the commercial and leisure segments got a pretty good deal for a change if you assume people chose true TA approved 'adequate, cheap but effective ’ gear sourced by alternative means.
But where having good solid comms isn’t just advisable even when not mandatory, such with ultralight aircraft and leisure marine activities, it’s still better to have than not. But it’s in those sectors where licensing costs and extreme pricing of gear is nothing short of exploitative ■■■■ is where some cost break sanity is most needed.
■■■■, levy a cost on what’s a naturally expanding and relatively open to abuse and rf pollution sector such as LPD and IoT fall squarely into (they barely really qualify, in domestic use, as true ISM candidates realistically given most kit has highly dubious TA at best) and give those who actively could benefit from adopting otherwise unrealistic cost comms and make the safety aspect of their worlds a better place.
In fact, I’d go as far as to say (UK wise) a lot of concession is given to licensing of what isn’t easily enforceable and what is subject to coersion and actually hurts to lose is where legislative mandated licensing is unfairly exploited on the little people, the average Joe who just wants to use radio gear on a legit level for safety and simple reliable comms.
Maybe it’s a more level playing field outside of the UK, and in some territories much worse, but realistically if we can’t find a true level of fairness, we may as well just return to the tiers of have and have-nots in radio comms we had pre to cellular being widely available and affordable.
If it comes down to it, I’ll just abandon radio entirely rather than see legit users be exploited like it was a right of legislators to inflict every time they need to show revenue boosting stat results.