Published on 26th September 2020
WEST HOLLYWOOD, California — One of the nation’s leading providers of amateur radio license education is calling on the Federal Communications Commission to toss out plans for a steep increase in fees for ham radio licenses.
Ham Radio Prep is requesting licensed amateur radio operators, its students and those who have successfully used its curriculum to attain amateur radio licenses to protest the FCC’s decision to start charging $50 for 10-year ham radio licenses that currently are free of charge.
A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking issued in August in FCC Docket 20-270 calls for public comments on the agency’s proposal to begin charging not only for ham licenses, but also $50 for vanity call signs and $50 to have a paper copy of a license mailed to them.
With an extraordinarily high rate of unemployment in the United States, Ham Radio Prep believes that the exorbitant fees being proposed for ham radio licenses would make the service exclusive, rather than inclusive. Vanity call signs are where hams select from available call signs for their on-air identification much like vanity license plates are used on vehicles. Vanity call signs aren’t as necessary as ham licenses, thus the FCC could realize some income from providing the service, but not at a high rate of $50.
Amateur radio is a personal radio service, not commercial. Amateur radio operators realize no income potential from having a ham radio license, unlike commercial broadcast stations or even a two-way radio system operated by a business for efficient dispatch purposes.
Amateur radio is a gateway for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) education not only by young individuals, but also by others mid-career or even by retirees looking at second careers. Ham radio operators are a cache of potential volunteers waiting to assist their communities on a non-profit basis through the goodwill of international amateur radio. At the same time, there is a critical shortage of young individuals seeking STEM education, and often amateur radio empowers them to seek out interesting, critical and essential careers and experiences.This is a time unlike any other when barriers to learning should not be put in place for our young people.
Ham Radio Prep believes that if the FCC chooses to set new fees for ham radio licenses that there should be a system either within the agency or through an allied organization to ensure there is an aid-based system to assist those wanting to become new hams if they can’t afford the high cost of a federal license.
Ham Radio Prep strongly opposes plans by the FCC to begin charging $50 for ham licenses and will be mobilizing its students, licensees and those allied to the cause to protest the agency’s proposal.