Tag Archives: FCC Rules

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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Differing Opinions – The Field Day Control Operator (and at Other Times)

It is always something I enjoy, receiving and reading the newspaper “World Radio” publication.

Never fail to find something of interest in it.

One column that has left me puzzled though, is John johnston W3BE’s “Rules & Regs.”

So often the opinions offered in that column are completely at odds with the interpretations of the FCC, ARRL, OOs and about every amateur out there.

The May 2008 issue offers a rash of opinions – mind you “opinions” – on Control Operators, Club Stations, Field Day Stations and the like which are skewed enough, whether exploring special cases or full of logical fallacies based on unstated conditions assumed, as to be impossible to use as a guide.

The motives of creating such confusion or misrepresenting a very narrowly held ultra-restrictive view of FCC rules as broadly accepted FCC practice is most likely an editorial decision we will never really get an insight into.

But the questions covered are serious, deserving accurate interpretation & guidelines.

The ARRL has a great summary FAQ on the Control Operator question:

Who’s in Control of Your Station?

The ARRL expands on a whole group of common FCC questions at:  

Regulatory Frequently Asked Questions

Topics covered include:


  • Amateur Operation in International Waters FAQ
  • Application Filing FAQ
  • ARES® vs RACES FAQ: Two Flavors of Amateur Radio Emergency Operation
  • Bandwidth Proposal
  • Club Station License FAQ
  • Equipment Authorization FAQ, FCC
  • FCC Amateur Communications and Operations FAQ
  • FCC Duplication and Call Sign Research Contractor
  • Local Government Zoning Restriction “How To” Chart
  • Prospective Amateur Radio Operator FAQ
  • Reciprocal Licensing FAQ
  • Repeaters, Auxiliary Stations, and “Remote Base” FAQ
  • Special Event 1 X 1 Call Sign FAQ
  • Vanity Call Sign FAQ, ARRL
  • Vanity Call Sign FAQ, FCC
  • Voice over the Internet Protocol and Amateur Radio FAQ
  • Who’s in Control of Your Station?
  • 60 Meter FAQ
  • So there is no need to worry about what a single individual reinterprets the FCC rules as, when you have access to the actual FCC rules and “plain text” from the ARRL to guide you.


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