In the latest episode of The Two Way Radio Show Podcast, we discuss the FCC proposal to levy fees on Amateur Radio licenses. This is a very contentious proposal that is receiving an overwhelming response from hams against the fees.
Although some hams would argue for a fee-exempt license, a reduction in fee helps and is way healthier than zero-fee licensing.
In the UK, we’ve had the zero license fee status, for a few years now (two years after I got my call sign in fact), and it’s done no harm but I put that down to the slow uptake of the hobby and we’re getting way less ex-CB entrants thanks to the now slower staged qualifications required to eventually get a full ticket.
But I wouldn’t object to a fee on the basic grounds we have the biggest, in terms of wide ranging flexibility of use and technical operation and construction (including scratch building) and frequency allocations both wider than most commercial and leisure radio users and within allocated frequencies and many modes (including lots of experimental and obscure), no TA restrictions that keep rigs as a black box.
Add in the really obscure and non-obscure provisions for cross band and cross mode and a combination of, whilst restricted to ham to ham communication legally, and all that’s got to be both incredible value at a fee level and radio user heaven.
So any argument for free exemption and especially dropping the entry requirements are crazy bordering on insane.
I actually feel sorry for newcomers in the UK who missed out on the old two-tier license which merged into a Full (A/B classes being dropped) license before the new exam and qualifying structure became a lot more staged and staggered. If there’s an upside, in practice, to the staged staggering, as far as existing VHF/UHF users go, is the staged focus now points people towards HF first and VHF/UHF being a more ‘technical‘ advanced level of use - which from a constructor/modifier/repurposed aspect is actually quite relevant, as DIY above 30 MHz always had a bit of a dark magic image (very true in the GHz allocations still).
Clearly the impact will differ in countries that implement FCC regulations, but zero fee licensing never did anything positive, so I hope our zero-fee status here doesn’t destroy the peace and harmony.