The Fifty-Dollar Filter – FCC’s Proposed $50 for Ten Year Ham License Fee

Somehow our government has figured out that to maintain a radio amateur’s license costs $5/year and is proposing to recover that cost from each of us.

Actually Congress passed legislation directing expense recovery by user fees.

Well I say the numbers are rubbish.

In the past the vanity-license fee was assessed on a similar basis resulting in a $x.xx/per year fee.  Numbers like $4.17 or $2.13 in form, not a rounded even dollar.

When the true incremental costs above a regular license were used, the the ongoing yearly fee disappeared.  Once established there was no significant difference to carrying either a sequential or a vanity listing.

Of course the previously collected faux-fees were retained rather than refunded.

Afraid our Amateur Radio community is being railroaded again.

The question being put to us is not whether the amount of the fee is accurate.

Instead we are being asked to comment on a feel-good exercise as whether the legally required expense recovery is legitimate.

Personally the proposed fee conceptually amortized at $5 per year as a user fee will not interfere with my pursuit of our hobby.

But I do expect some of my sons who have Tech and General class licenses but are seldom on the air to join the ranks of “former amateur licensees” as they won’t be bothered to jump through the renewal hoops and pay for a license they presently are not using.  I anticipate our all-licensee family will drop from Five licensed amateurs to 1 or possibly 2.  I will certainly renew, but the wife and our sons won’t, expect perhaps one son who earned his general a while back.

This weeding out of the inactive or lightly active will have dual impact – a continued decline in overall licensees which will politically be used against the amateur radio hobby for frequency and support grabs.

And you can expect the fees to treble or more as the total expense is reallocated over a smaller groups of licenses.

So brace for this $50 per 10-year fee becoming $150+ per ten-year period after the first 6-7 years of fees, and then continuing to escalate in years after that.

With enough decline in fee paying licensees it isn’t unreasonable to anticipate a $50/year ($500 for the ten year) levy or higher within the next 15-20 years.

Some hams are noting the ARRL’s opposition and attributing it being self-serving for the ARRL as an organization, which may be part true.

But unless we push hard to get to keep this Pandora’s Box from being opened it will be our wallets that suffer, our feeder system of lightly active amateurs who some later embrace the hobby in a bigger way, and the barrier to entry for new hams that will cause the real damage to our hobby.



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