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FCC proposes new filing fee structure, new fees for ham radio

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio News' started by KU3N, Aug 27, 2020.

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  1. KU3N

    KU3N Ham Member QRZ Page

    On Wednesday, the FCC released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in MD Docket 20-270 which implements portions of the Repack Airwaves Yielding Better Access for Users of Modern Services Act of 2018 (or RAY BAUM’S Act), which gives the FCC statutory authority to collect application fees. As a part of the Act, the FCC is required to switch from a fee structure mandated by Congress 20 years ago to a new cost-based system. This change will result in some fees being reduced and in some cases, such as the Amateur Radio Service, new fees are being added.

    Proposed new fees for Amateur Radio and reduction in GMRS fees

    Section 8 of the RAY BAUM’S Act does not provide any kind of statutory exemption for filing fees in the Amateur Radio Service, which, historically has had no filing fees. Citing the costs involved in the automated processes, routine maintenance of the Commission’s Universal Licensing System (ULS) and limited instances where staff needs to be involved in the application process, the FCC is proposing an across-the-board fee of $50 for new and modified licenses in the personal radio services, which includes Amateur Radio and the General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS). For GMRS, this is a reduction of the current $70 fee. The FCC also proposes these fees for license renewals and requests for vanity call signs, the latter which had its filing fee eliminated several years ago. The FCC is proposing to still not charge for administrative updates, such as mailing address changes on amateur or GMRS applications. Amateur Radio will remain exempt from annual regulatory fees under Section 9 of the RAY BAUM'S Act.

    Commenting on the changes

    Once the NPRM is published in the Federal Register, filing deadlines for comments and reply comments will be established. Those dates will be announced by the FCC in a separate Public Notice. Comments will be accepted in the FCC’s Electronic Comment Filing System under proceeding 20-270.

    A copy of the NPRM, which includes the proposed fee structures, can be found here.

    The RAY BAUM'S Act is part of Public Law 115-141 and can be found in this PDF document starting on page 734 (Division P). The relevant part of the law starts on Page 736, under Section 8.

    Written by: Michelle Bradley, KU3N ~ founder of REC Networks.

    Link to full article at REC Networks, which also discusses fee changes for commercial broadcast radio can be found at

    Attached Files:

    KA8UGB and JF1IRQ like this.
  2. W1YW

    W1YW Ham Member QRZ Page

    For the inactive Part 97 licensee, the $50 renewal will likely be a decider to drop the license.


    Fifty dollars will keep MANY young people from joining the ARS.


    What were they thinking!
    N3RMC, K3DGR, K0HAN and 28 others like this.
  3. W5MBH

    W5MBH Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    $50 seems kinda steep for a renewal - just me, maybe.
    N3RMC, K3DGR, K0HAN and 23 others like this.
  4. K3RLD

    K3RLD Ham Member QRZ Page

    I like the idea of a fee for vanity calls, though. I myself have a vanity call, which I would gladly pay $50 for. What I would really like is the overnight elimination of the guys that change their calls every 3 months....
    N3RMC, KD2SHN, KD7DGK and 40 others like this.
  5. K0UO

    K0UO Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    We probably need to go to Lifetime licenses other countries have.

    I'm okay with paying fifty bucks one time around, if we can keep our frequencies.

    That also shows some justification for the FCC for our frequencies, otherwise they could just get auctioned off in the future!
    ( or at least part of the frequencies we currently use)
    KJ4BFH, K3DGR, K0HAN and 24 others like this.
  6. N6RWC

    N6RWC Ham Member QRZ Page

    Paying $50 just for a vanity or renewing a license will be a disinterest of hams renewing their license. I don't feel like I need to pay $50 for something that I want to keep. thanks FCC
    K3DGR, K1DNC, W7XLR and 13 others like this.
  7. KK9W

    KK9W Ham Member QRZ Page

    Anyone else tired of getting jerked round yet?

    I would like see set guidelines on a mandatory vanity call retention period before you may requesting a new one and a set limit to the number of total calls you may have in a lifetime. The number of people I have seen in the database with upwards of 10 or more calls is ridiculous. Then the cancelled calls set on the sidelines for two years before someone else may apply. That is unless the call sign hopper requests it back again and bounces between their collection of calls.
    N4AWP, N3RMC, KD2SHN and 28 others like this.
  8. N2EY

    N2EY Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    One small historic correction:

    For a time in the 1960s and 1970s, there were fees charged for Amateur Radio licenses, except for the Novice and some other licenses (RACES and military).

    The 1971 ARRL License Manual (66th edition) gives the fees as

    $9 for new or renewal,
    $4 for modification (change of name or address),
    $6 for duplicate license
    $25 for special callsign.

    Those fees may not sound like much, but when you factor inflation,

    they come out to:

    $57.61 for new or renewal,
    $25.61 for modification (change of name or address),
    $38.41 for duplicate license
    $160.04 for special callsign.

    Those fees were application fees; you paid them up-front, whether a license was issued or not. This included license tests except for Novice.

    At some point in the 1970s, it was ruled that such fees for non-commercial licenses were illegal (not sure exactly when or why, those details are left as an exercise for the reader) and they were all dropped.

    When the vanity call program was started, it was ruled that fees were OK because the fee was for the special callsign and not the license itself. The vanity call fee was set at the cost of running the program, so it varied up and down over time.
    KG7A/SK2022, W9HJ, N7KO and 19 others like this.
  9. WB4YAL

    WB4YAL Ham Member QRZ Page

    I would pay $50 for a lifetime license.
    N3RMC, K3DGR, AH2AP and 35 others like this.
  10. VA3EP

    VA3EP Ham Member QRZ Page

    Canada went to lifetime certifications a number of years ago, 1st call is free.

    I am not aware of it having created any real issues, other than estates forgetting to inform the authority so that calls can be returned to use.

    I (and may others) use the money diverted to support RAC, our national organization.

    Eric VA3EP
    K1DNC, N3HOE, N5XMV and 8 others like this.
  11. WJ2L

    WJ2L Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Maybe a modification to this NPRM is necessary where youth less than 18 or still in college could be fee free? Indeed, this field of communications and electronics does enhance society producing many highly skilled and educated which benefit our country. We need not discourage the profitable skills that are brought to the county by making fees a problem for them.
    KJ4BFH, KD2SHN, KG7HVR and 2 others like this.
  12. N4URW

    N4URW Ham Member QRZ Page

    Yep times are changing. No more free licenses and yes this will reduce the number of people that want to get into Amateur radio. Not a good move. This is a hobby and equipment is expensive enough without having to dish out $50.00 for a license and every time you renew it. Total BS. Maybe a one time fee and I do not agree with every renewal you have to pay $50.00.
    W8CFC, KX4BW, AE5SB and 2 others like this.
  13. N2EY

    N2EY Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    We can't - here's why:

    A US amateur license is actually a combination operator and station license. The Communications Act limits station licenses to no more than 10 years.

    That's why a GROL can be for life, but radio and TV stations have to renew.

    For many years, FCC and predecessors made a big deal about the difference between an amateur radio operator license and an amateur radio station license - to the point that some hams had multiple station licenses, and others had no station license at all. During WW2, Amateur Radio in the USA was suspended by simply suspending all Amateur Radio station licenses. All through the war, FCC held amateur operator license exam sessions, but there were no amateur radio stations to operate.

    Note that callsigns belong to the station, not the operator, even though hams tend to think of them as one and the same.
    WJ2L, K5MPH, KU4X and 1 other person like this.
  14. N2EY

    N2EY Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    License terms are 10 years, so it works out to $5 a year. Problem is, the $50 is up-front.
    KE4ITL, KF6FRR and NX6ED like this.
  15. KB9BVN

    KB9BVN Ham Member QRZ Page

    Oh Man...the ARRL is going be hurting....$50 for the license and no money left for ARRL membership.
    KD2SHN, N8ZI, KB2YJK and 10 others like this.
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