FCC NPRM MD Docket No. 20-270 changing FCC fee structure, including Amateur Radio. $50 for new licenses and renewals and Vanity License Applications

n5ims

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The FCC has released a new NPRM (MD Docket No. 20-270) to restructure their license fee structure. Many of their fees will change, including the Personal License Services that includes Amateur Radio. They propose keeping on-line modifications remain at no charge, but start charging $50 for new and renewal applications as well as vanity license applications. Modifications that require FCC personnel action will also require a $50 fee. They will also charge the $50 fee for folks that request the FCC print and mail a physical license. Of interest to hams are paragraphs 24 - 30.


27. Other applications for personal licenses are mostly automated and do not have individualized staff costs for data input or review. For these automated processes—new/major modifications, renewal, and minor modifications—we propose a nominal application fee of $50 due to automating the processes, routine ULS maintenance, and limited instances where staff input is required. Although there is currently no fee for vanity call signs in the Amateur Radio Service, we find that such applications impose similar costs in aggregate on Commission resources as new applications and therefore propose a $50 fee.

28. For administrative updates modifications, which also are highly automated, we find that it is in the public interest to encourage licensees to update their information without a charge. We thus propose no application fee for administrative updates modifications.

29. In instances where an applicant elects to receive a physical license by mail (including requests for a duplicate license), the Commission incurs costs for printing and mailing the duplicate authorization. The Commission has proposed to eliminate these services31—but to the extent the Commission does not do so, we propose a fee of $50 to cover the costs of these services.
 

n5ims

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Maybe if they make some more money it will be used for enforcement.... Not holding my breath though
The FCC relies on the ARRL program to monitor the ham bands in the US and report folks that continue to be bad after the send several reports. Since none of the funds will go to the ARRL for that, I doubt that will change anything. Now what might change things is that with the $50 additional charge for the license (and this is above that charged by the groups that do the testing) there may be fewer hams due to the cost. This will affect not only new/upgrades, but renewals so I suspect that ham numbers will start dropping in large numbers.
 

wwhitby

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Now what might change things is that with the $50 additional charge for the license (and this is above that charged by the groups that do the testing) there may be fewer hams due to the cost. This will affect not only new/upgrades, but renewals so I suspect that ham numbers will start dropping in large numbers.
I agree. One of the selling points I've seen with amateur radio is that the license is free and the cost to test is negligible. If you have to pay $50 for a license, plus testing costs, it will discourage potential hams. I can see it affecting younger hams and those on fixed incomes. As a friend of mine just said "when you are on social security, $50 buys a lot of groceries."

It will also keep people from renewing their licenses if they don't perceive it being worth $50.

And, with fewer hams, you might as well kiss a lot of VHF and up spectrum goodbye.

AND, its $50 now because they say that is the cost to process applications. Look for that fee to go up in the future.

Its hard enough to attract the general public to ham radio. We don't need any more barriers.
 
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vagrant

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If a person cannot afford $50 that covers a license fee for 10 years (less than $0.46 / month), then they cannot afford the radio, coax, antenna, mast, power supply, the electricity cost to power/charge the radio, nor would they have the time to chat when they would need to be busy working and earning money. Of course one could simply not pay the ARRL annual fee one year...(can-o-worms officially opened)

What I hope the fee reduces is those jokers who keep changing call signs and then tying them up for two years after they drop it. That is just ridiculous.

Hey, hey, hey! GMRS license fees will also now be less than $0.46/month. I remember back in the day (2017) when it cost us about $0.59 / month. In fact, before that the cost was over $1.16 a month! We had it rough back in the day. Some still have the scars.
 

n5ims

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If a person cannot afford $50 that covers a license fee for 10 years (less than $0.46 / month), then they cannot afford the radio, coax, antenna, mast, power supply, the electricity cost to power/charge the radio, nor would they have the time to chat when they would need to be busy working and earning money. Of course one could simply not pay the ARRL annual fee one year...(can-o-worms officially opened)
It's not so much the younger adult hams that are just starting out in the hobby and have gainful employment that will have serious issues with the new fee, it's the senior hams on fixed incomes that already have the equipment and time to chat that the fee will really hurt and may force them out of the hobby. Also the youth hams that are really needed in the hobby to keep it alive that probably can pay the current 14 or 15 for the exam but not the new $50. This additional fee will scare them off quickly and will most likely never look back after finding other things to do with their time.
 

vagrant

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<Reality>
If I am unable to afford less than 46 cents a month for an amateur radio license, I would be preoccupied with much more important things than an amateur radio license.
</Reality>

Do I wish the fee was less, sure, but I don't mind a fee if it curtails the jug heads that keep changing call signs regularly and tying them up.
 

n5ims

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<Reality>
If we could pay it off monthly it wouldn't be so bad, but folks that already have a license and can renew for no cost and live on Social Security (and savings that's going fast) may be faced by paying $50 to renew a license or eating probably will be forced to give up their hobby (that may be the only thing in their life that helps them go on living).
</Reality>

How will a fee on vanity licenses do anything to help an aging ham that's had their same call sign for many decades? Perhaps you should comment on the NPRM and suggest that there be no fees for folks under the age of 20 or over the age of 60 to help the young get into the hobby and keep the seniors in it.

Perhaps, just for you, make the vanity application fee $250, perhaps for every call selected. You could even propose that the vanity call sign fee be doubled every time a request be made. Would that help?
 

AK9R

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I have contacted my ARRL division director. He says that we can expect the ARRL to file comments in opposition to the amateur radio fees. He also says that the ARRL's has a different interpretation of the "RAY BAUM'S Act" than what is presented in the NPRM.

However, if additional fees slows down the number of people who tie up multiple callsigns, then I might be all for it.

As you all say, $5/year or $0.42/month ($50 divided by 10 years divided by 12 months is $0.416666.../month) seems like it would be affordable for most people.
 
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maxxkatt

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I agree. One of the selling points I've seen with amateur radio is that the license is free and the cost to test is negligible. If you have to pay $50 for a license, plus testing costs, it will discourage potential hams. I can see it affecting younger hams and those on fixed incomes. As a friend of mine just said "when you are on social security, $50 buys a lot of groceries."

It will also keep people from renewing their licenses if they don't perceive it being worth $50.

And, with fewer hams, you might as well kiss a lot of VHF and up spectrum goodbye.

AND, its $50 now because they say that is the cost to process applications. Look for that fee to go up in the future.

Its hard enough to attract the general public to ham radio. We don't need any more barriers.
"And, with fewer hams, you might as well kiss a lot of VHF and up spectrum goodbye."

Maybe that is their end game. They can make a lot more money by auctioning off the ham bands. They won't use the money for enforcement. They basically stopped that back in the 90's at least in the southeast when they closed down the Power Springs monitoring station. The fees will discourage the new users and renewals and they will point to congress and say "see nobody is using these bands anymore, lets use them for something else more productive (meaning something that will make us more money and give us reason to expand our departments".
No organization wants to every cede their power, and the hams have no one to lobby for them any more.

Sad, but true. I would think the CB band would have a better cheerleader than the hams. Think of the number of truckers compared to the dwindling supply of hams. Well this is just the way I see it.
 

MTS2000des

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There is no money in the majority of amateur allocated spectrum. The telecom cartels could care less about HF. VHF allocations aren't profitable either. UHF and above, a different story, but they'll have to evict the military and the Federal users. Good luck with that, the Federal systems in the 380-420MHz band are here to stay.

Congress is already having to do an about face on the "vacate T-band" nonsense in the part 90 arena.

The FCC is just looking at how to make up for budget shortfalls. It isn't a conspiracy to "do away with amateur radio". Now doing away with OTA television? That's well underway. Phase 1 was repacking. Phase 2 will be ATSC 3.0.

As far as the fees, other personal radio services like GMRS have much higher fees- $85 for a 5 year license versus $50 for a 10 year isn't unreasonable when one puts it in perspective, and that fee has been in place for years.
 

K9DWB

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FWIW I'm on Disability, and being below considered poor at $15K yearly, I'll still find $50 in 10 years to keep my Amateur license and be happier that some jokers won't bother to keep their ticket. And I'm glad I put in for the vanity when I did, as it was approved 8/11.
 

mmckenna

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“(e) Exceptions.—
“(1) PARTIES TO WHICH FEES ARE NOT APPLICABLE.—The regulatory fees established under this section shall not be applicable to—
“(A) a governmental entity or nonprofit entity;
“(B) an amateur radio operator licensee under part 97 of the Commission’s rules (47 CFR part 97); or
“(C) a noncommercial radio station or noncommercial television station.

We'll have to see what happens, but it's about recovering costs. Since there is very little cost in supplying or renewing an amateur radio license, I don't think it's impacted, and the above part seems to suggest that.

As for Vanity Calls, I'm OK with that.
 

AE6QE

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I think what we will see, is that many of those inactive folks maintaining licenses will rethink when they go to renew and have to pay. On the initial license side, you can probably forget everyone but the most dedicated radio hobbyists from taking the test now.

What this might do, is place GMRS and amateur radio in competition - especially since the Tech license is very limited in HF privileges, still requires a test, and is only good for the individual (not the family).
 

krokus

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... but it's about recovering costs. Since there is very little cost in supplying or renewing an amateur radio license, I don't think it's impacted, and the above part seems to suggest that.
I find it difficult to believe that it costs anything near $50 for printing and mailing a paper copy of the license.
 
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