Friday, March 25, 2022

The bee in the bonnet of some American Hams

 The particulars - according to the ARRL:

New Amateur Radio License Applications Fee To Become Effective April 19, 2022


A Public Notice released by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on March 23, 2022, in MD Docket No. 20-270, announced that new application fees for Wireless Telecommunications Bureau applications will become effective on April 19, 2022. The new fees, mandated by Congress, apply to applications for Amateur Radio licenses including those associated with filing Form 605, the Amateur Operator/Primary Station Licensee Application.

Effective April 19, 2022, a $35 fee will apply to applications for a new Amateur Radio license, modification (upgrade and sequential call sign change), renewal, and vanity call signs.

Anticipating the implementation of the fee in 2022, the ARRL Board of Directors, at its July 2021 meeting, approved the "ARRL Youth Licensing Grant Program." Under the program, ARRL will cover a one-time $35 application fee for license candidates younger than 18 years old for tests administered under the auspices of the ARRL Volunteer Examiner Coordinator (ARRL VEC). Qualified candidates also would pay a reduced exam session fee of $5 to the ARRL VEC. ARRL is finalizing details for administering the program.

ARRL had filed comments in opposition to imposing a fee on Amateur Radio license applications. The FCC initially proposed a higher, $50 fee. In a Report and Order (R&O), released on December 29, 2020, the amount was reduced -- the FCC agreeing with ARRL and other commenters that its proposed $50 fee for certain amateur radio applications was "too high to account for the minimal staff involvement in these applications."

ARRL Volunteer Examiner Coordinator (ARRL VEC) Manager Maria Somma, AB1FM, explained that all fees are per application. "There will be no fee for administrative updates, such as a change of mailing or email address. The fees will be the responsibility of the applicant regardless of filing method and must be paid within 10 calendar days of FCC's receipt of the application. For applications filed by a VEC, the period does not begin until the application is received by the Commission, a ULS file number assigned, and an email sent by the FCC directly to the applicant."

VECs and Volunteer Examiner (VE) teams will not collect the $35 fee at license exam sessions. New and upgrade candidates at an exam session will continue to pay the $15 exam session fee to the ARRL VE team as usual, and pay the new, $35 application fee directly to the FCC by using the CORES FRN Registration system (CORES - Login).

When the FCC receives the examination information from the VEC, it will email a link with payment instructions to each successful candidate who then will have 10 calendar days from the date of the email to pay. After the fee is paid and the FCC has processed an application, examinees will receive a second email from the FCC with a link to their official license or explanation of other action. The link will be good for 30 days.

Somma also explained that applications that are processed and dismissed will not be entitled to a refund. This includes vanity call sign requests where the applicant does not receive the requested call sign. "The FCC staff has suggested that applicants for vanity call signs should first ensure the call signs requested are available and eligible for their operator class and area, and then request as many call signs as the form allows to maximize their chances of receiving a call sign."

Further information and instructions about the FCC Application Fee are available from the ARRL VEC at Details for the ARRL Youth Licensing Grant Program will be similarly posted there, when available.

Just like anyone else, I don't enjoy paying what is in essence, just another tax - but it is what it is.  This was mandated by Congress, not the FCC, so there's no use being mad at them.

I'm happy to see that the ARRL is going out of their way to help young Hams under the age of 18. Not only covering the $35 fee; but also reducing the cost of the test. It's a good thing to remove roadblocks preventing younger blood from joining the ranks.

As far as older Hams living on a fixed budget are concerned - this is a great incentive for local clubs to develop a program to help defray the cost of the fee for those who TRULY need it. But if you can afford a K4 with all the bells and whistles, an extra $35 to the FCC isn't going to hurt that much, is it?

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!


Friday, March 04, 2022

The purpose of Amateur Radio

 at least, as defined by the Federal Communications Commission for Radio Amateurs in the United States:

Part 97.1  - Basis and Purpose

The rules and regulations in this part are designed to provide an amateur radio service having a fundamental purpose as expressed in the following principles: 

(a) Recognition and enhancement of the value of the amateur service to the public as a voluntary noncommercial communication service, particularly with respect to providing emergency communications. 

(b) Continuation and extension of the amateur's proven ability to contribute to the advancement of the radio art. 

(c) Encouragement and improvement of the amateur service through rules which provide for advancing skills in both the communication and technical phases of the art. 

(d) Expansion of the existing reservoir within the amateur radio service of trained operators, technicians, and electronics experts. 

(e) Continuation and extension of the amateur's unique ability to enhance international goodwill.

Special emphasis on the last one. Be an ambassador for goodwill!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Thursday, March 03, 2022

Not trying to be political or controversial

 Not trying to get involved in the middle of anything. It just goes to show that there ARE times when "old fashioned" analog radio is the ultimate backup "when all else fails".

When the ARRL introduced their "When All Else Fails" placard and bumper sticker a few years ago - it resulted in chuckles in some places.

"Radio - who needs it? We have cell phones and the internet now!"

"Radio is old fashioned and obsolete ...... Amateur Radio is still a thing?"

The BBC might not be Amateur Radio, but they have resurrected some of their shortwave service. As long as there is an ionosphere, analog radio will NEVER be obsolete!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!