Thursday, May 05, 2011

Vanity Callsign Fee to Increase

The FCC is seeking to increase the fee for a vanity callsign.

What we're talking here is chump change - a mere 90 cents from $13.30 to $14.20 - a mere 9 cents a year, if you think about it.

But the "Don't Tread On Me" hairs on the back of my neck get prickled just a little by this.  I am reminded of the old tale of the frog who sat in the pot of water, thinking that nothing was wrong, until the water boiled and it was too late!  Yes, I have a vanity callsign.  No, I do not mind paying for the privilege.  If I minded, I would not have changed from N2ELW.

BUT ....... in the days of computers, does it really cost the FCC anything to allow me to keep W2LJ?  I don't think they have to pay a lil' ol' man somewhere in Gettysburg who sits behind a desk wearing a green eye shade and sleeve garters and toils all day writing down vanity callsigns in a huge leather bound ledger, like a monk in the Middle Ages.

Maybe there should be a one time fee for the privilege - like say $50 or something when you originally apply and then wham!, it's yours for the rest of your life (or as long as you choose to retain your license) -  like any other callsign?  If you want to apply for a different vanity callsign, then you submit a new "application fee".

Really, once you change your call, it doesn't cost the FCC anything to maintain that.  Once their licensing system knows me as W2LJ or N2ELW or even KA2DOH for that matter, it doesn't cost a thing to maintain.

To me, as it stands, this just smacks of another tax increase.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!


  1. Yep, it's a tax. We have free ham licenses for life here now because it was cheaper to administrate than annual renewals. What we don't know now is how many people still actively use their licenses, which we would if they had to pay to renew them.

  2. Anonymous9:09 AM

    9 cents, huh?

    Let me ask you, do you pay the same to get your driver's license renewed that you did 10, 15, or 20 years ago? Do you pay the same for getting your vehicle registration renewed? What about your vehicle inspection?

    In my case, those things sure have gone up by a lot more than 9 cents and the price increases are routine and frequent. You may or may not be correct in that a computer handles the whole matter. But, even if you're right, is that all that this office does? Are they not entitled to try and gather revenue? Do you think that the Feds are dumping money left and right into FCC offices or do you think they may be trying to exist on the tightest budget they've ever faced? Do you feel better about paying one of the sloths at the DMV than you do the folks at the FCC?

    Would you like to work for the same pay rate as you did 10 years ago? Do the people who oversee this and help keep things straight not deserve a raise every now and then, or a cost of living increase? You think 9 cents is too much?

    If the 9 cents bothers you that much, put your 9 cents where your mouth is and drop your vanity call.

  3. Anonymous, no need to be so snarky. Are you brave enough to make the same comments posting your name and call? If you would re-read my post, I said the increase was small change, and that it only works out to be 9 cents a year.
    Why so defensive and so mean-spirited? I'm not against the FCC earning revenue, even thought their budget should come out of the Federal Treasury that we all pay into with our taxes. My main point was that I personally would prefer seeing a one time application fee $50 or heck, even $100, rather than seeing these "adjustements". Last year it was down 10 cents - this year it's up 90 cents. Why not just a "one time and be done with it" fee?

    Larry W2LJ

  4. Anonymous,

    One more point; and then I'll drop this forever. Having a private sector job, which is based on the whims of the economy ..... I haven't seen a "cost of living increase" for over three years now. So my heart really doesn't bleed too much for that part of your argument.

    Larry W2LJ

  5. Hi Larry,

    Thoughtful post. Unfortunately a one-and-done fee wouldn't work, I suspect, because if I understand federal budgeting (and anyone who says he or she does automatically is fudging the truth a bit), the FCC can't set up a pot of money on the side filled with the fees and draw on that against license administration expenses into the future. That would be the only value of a one-and-done fee, kind of like a lifetime subscription. Like every other federal agency, they get a budget on a year-to-year basis, and it's spend it or lose it at the end of a fiscal year. Anything pot they could build would go back to the treasury at the end of the fiscal year.

    This vanity-license increase rings a bit like increases in "user fees" set up during the Reagan administration as it was cutting income taxes. From an economy-wide standpoint, the two (cuts and fee increases) just about balanced each other out, if I remember correctly.

    Between concerns about the ballooning federal debt and debates over how to reduce it, one of which calls for more tax cuts, it's hard to see how the FCC will be able function without some fee increases as time goes on. As Congress sorts itself out on budgets, deficits, and debt, I have a hunch both parties expect agencies to increase fees to some extent to help them function.

    Anyway, as a vanity-call holder myself, thanks for bring it to our attention!

    With best regards,


  6. Pete,

    Thanks for the thoughtful comments and for pointing out some things I hadn't considered. Makes sense, in a bureaucratic way, I guess.

    Larry W2LJ