Where do you stand on the FCC proposal to raise fees on amateur radio licenses?
- Yes, I’m all for the fees
- No, I oppose the fees
- I don’t know, I’m undecided
- Either way, I don’t care
On August 26, 2020, the FCC issued Docket 20-270, which is an Amendment of the Schedule of Application Fees Set Forth in Sections 1.1102 through 1.1109 of the Commission’s Rules. The FCC is currently inviting comments on the proposal until an undetermined date.
In a nutshell, the FCC proposes:
- $50 application fee for new and renewal amateur radio licenses
- $50 fee for license upgrades
- $50 fee for vanity licenses (the vanity license fee was eliminated a few years ago)
- $50 fee for a printed copy of the license
So far the comments from hams are overwhelmingly against this, with a few exceptions. You can read the growing list of comments here. You can also file a comment to the FCC Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS). If so, you will want to post it to MD Docket No. 20-270.
We plan to cover this in the next episode of The Two Way Radio Show Podcast, and welcome comments here to be included in the show. If we read yours on the show, we’ll send you a T-shirt!
Clearly I’m in the wrong country but I voted assuming our government did the same thing. My views are a bit divisive. As a hobby it got worse when access was opened up years ago. Equipment got so cheap what wasn’t needed any more was dedication. Too many people in on a whim. Too many small groups becoming hams simply to get access to better gear, longer distances and privacy. A bit like joining an athletics club to use the kit but not want to run races. I’m in favour of bars to entry, be it money or exams, or maybe even slower access by making people wait longer or having to do extra testing that requires genuine real learning that requires genuine study. I know all the old elitist arguments but I think it just proves dedication. A hobby that has control and a proper progression route. Digital modes have worked well because money, a real learning curves and serious brain work are needed again and nobody can make it work without effort to brain and your pocket. Vanity call signs which we don’t have are fun and you pay for fun! Anyone who cannot print a pdf deserves a 50 dollar charge for laziness! We’re in a hobby that is expensive. Nowhere near as expensive as in the past where a radio would cost you ten weeks wages but we don’t make an antenna now we buy one so if you want status changes you should pay for that too! Sorry the first reply comes from a brit who probably should just have kept quiet with my out of country old fashioned opinions!
Ham radio is a hobby. Governments have trouble subsidising hobbies. World agreements require them to restrict entry and assess competence. They have to run a system. It costs money. Voters hate spending money on things they personally do not spend their money on. Government needs to recover costs. Setting a licence fee at closer to the real cost is prudence with public money ever more scrutinised. People are happy with Netflix and subscription TV. People are used to paying monthly for expensive phones. Making ham radio generate more of it’s costs makes sense. I have NEVER objected to paying for my hobby, and in real terms it is cheaper now than it has ever been.
Well I’ve always been comfortable with the fact in the UK we’ve never really been subjected to fees for ham radio licensing, but at the same time, I would pay a token sum but not 25-30 ukp type level.
But I would recognise that given the sheer breadth of allocation we get, vs the sliver allocations most radio users have to settle for, if a cost became mandatory - you couldn’t deny the value for money aspect.
After all, if you think about it, ham radio users get what would, in a fee paid license context, equate into around 500-1000 ukp worth of licenses.
Back when CB wasn’t license exempt, I fully supported the fee requirement on the grounds that the allocation was only licensed under duress and a means to an end (it cost more, long term to discourage and act against users of unlicenseable equipment), but if the end user wanted what they strong-armed and eventually abused to death, they didn’t deserve it for free.
As highlighted, it still costs money to managed and administrate the license and maintenance (research of usage and potential and operating a response to abuse and cause of complaints), so there are valid grounds for license fees of some kind in practice.
It’s only when it costs more to administrate the licensing process than the revenue level is worth, that they remove the fee in retrospect as happened with use of UK CB on FM.
My objection vote reflects that many government and exec agency revenue grabs are abused, but where the money actually helps to maintain the admin process, then I’m not against fees.