FCC Reduces Proposed Amateur Radio Application Fee to $35

FCC sealFrom ARRL Web:

12/30/2020 – The FCC has agreed 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.” In a Report and Order (R&O), released on December 29, the FCC scaled back to $35 the fee for a new license application, a special temporary authority (STA) request, a rule waiver request, a license renewal application, and a vanity call sign application. All fees are per application. There will be no fee for administrative updates, such as a change of mailing or email address.

This fall, ARRL filed comments in firm opposition to the FCC proposal to impose a $50 fee on amateur radio license and application fees and urged its members to follow suit.

As the FCC noted in its R&O, although some commenters supported the proposed $50 fee as reasonable and fair, “ARRL and many individual commenters argued that there was no cost-based justification for application fees in the Amateur Radio Service.” The fee proposal was contained in a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in MD Docket 20-270, which was adopted to implement portions of the “Repack Airwaves Yielding Better Access for Users of Modern Services Act” of 2018 — the so-called “Ray Baum’s Act.”

“After reviewing the record, including the extensive comments filed by amateur radio licensees and based on our revised analysis of the cost of processing mostly automated processes discussed in our methodology section, we adopt a $35 application fee, a lower application fee than the Commission proposed in the NPRM for personal licenses, in recognition of the fact that the application process is mostly automated,” the FCC said in the R&O. “We adopt the proposal from the NPRM to assess no additional application fee for minor modifications or administrative updates, which also are highly automated.”

The FCC said it received more than 197,000 personal license applications in 2019, which includes not only ham radio license applications but commercial radio operator licenses and General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) licenses.

The FCC turned away the arguments of some commenters that the FCC should exempt amateur radio licensees. The FCC stated that it has no authority to create an exemption “where none presently exists.”

The FCC also disagreed with those who argued that amateur radio licensees should be exempt from fees because of their public service contribution during emergencies and disasters.

“[W]e we are very much aware of these laudable and important services amateur radio licensees provide to the American public,” the FCC said, but noted that specific exemptions provided under Section 8 of the so-called “Ray Baum’s Act” requiring the FCC to assess the fees do not apply to amateur radio personal licenses. “Emergency communications, for example, are voluntary and are not required by our rules,” the FCC noted. “As we have noted previously, ‘[w]hile the value of the amateur service to the public as a voluntary noncommercial communications service, particularly with respect to providing emergency communications, is one of the underlying principles of the amateur service, the amateur service is not an emergency radio service.’”

The Act requires that the FCC switch from a Congressionally-mandated fee structure to a cost-based system of assessment. The FCC proposed application fees for a broad range of services that use the FCC’s Universal Licensing System (ULS), including the Amateur Radio Service, which had been excluded previously. The 2018 statute excludes the Amateur Service from annual regulatory fees, but not from application fees.

“While the Ray Baum’s Act amended Section 9 and retained the regulatory fee exemption for amateur radio station licensees, Congress did not include a comparable exemption among the amendments it made to Section 8 of the Act,” the FCC R&O explained.

The effective date of the fee schedule has not been established, but it will be announced at least 30 days in advance. The FCC has directed the Office of Managing Director, in consultation with relevant offices and bureaus, to draft a notice for publication in the Federal Register announcing when rule change(s) will become effective, “once the relevant databases, guides, and internal procedures have been updated.” 

ARRL Staffers to be On the Air from W1AW for Straight Key Night, January 1, 2021

J-38 straight keyMembers of the ARRL Headquarters staff will put W1AW on the air for Straight Key Night (SKN). Set some time aside on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day to take part in this annual ARRL tradition.

Information on Straight Key Night can be found at http://www.arrl.org/straight-key-night .

SKN begins at 0000 UTC on January 1, 2021 (New Year’s Eve in US time zones) and wraps up at 2359 UTC. Not a contest, SKN is dedicated to celebrating amateur radio’s Morse code heritage. Bring out the brass, get on the air, and enjoy casual CW contacts, preferably using a straight key (hand key) or a semi-automatic key (bug). Activity traditionally centers on CW segments in the HF bands (W1AW will focus on 80, 40, and 20 meters).

Submit via email your SKN list of stations contacted and your votes for “Best Fist” and “Most Interesting QSO” by January 31 to,
straightkey@arrl.org .

Greater Bridgeport (CT) ARC Fox Hunters of the Year

Jack and Michael Singwald N1PLH
Jack (left) and Michael Singwald, N1PLH

From https://groups.io/g/GBARC/wiki:

This year [the Greater Bridgeport Amateur Radio Club] found, in the middle of a pandemic, we could still be an active club and explore one of the many aspects of radiosport–foxhunting.  Starting with our first foxhunt in April to the Reindeer Run in December, the season was dominated by one team, that team being Jack and Michael Singwald, N1PLH.  

Over the eight foxhunts this year, they dominated the field with an impressive five wins, and never failed to find the fox.  For their efforts they were awarded the Foxhunter of the Year Trophy and bragging rights for the coming year.  

Our next Fox Hunt will be on Saturday January 5th hosted by N1DID.  This foxhunt will be particularly challenging and cover an extremely wide coverage area.  So be sure to plan your time to be there.  Tune in, have some fun, and drive around looking for that elusive fox.

NH7C: “ARRL Public Relations” RATPAC Presentation, December 30, 2020

RATPAC logoPlease plan to attend Wednesday’s December 30 Zoom presentation.  

10:00 PM AST / 9:00 PM EST / 8:00 PM CST / 7:00 PM MST / 6:00 PM PST / 5:00 PM AKST / 4:00 PM HST

Topic: ARRL Public Relations

 Speaker/Presenter: Sid Caesar, NH7C, Chairman ARRL Public Relations Committee

This meeting will be OPEN for all to attend. Please feel free to invite others.

Please note: RATPAC will not be doing Zoom presentations on the following dates: 

December 31 – New Years Eve  /  January 01- New Years Day 2021

  • This meeting will be recorded. By participating you consent to being recorded. 
  • Please change your display name to Your First Name, Call Sign and Location, e.g. Dan K7REX Idaho. 
  • Please stay muted until ready to speak. Your space bar works like a PTT for unmuting
  • You may ask questions in chat; please stay on topic while using chat.

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 212 888 4758
Passcode: Public

St. John Valley ARA (ME) DMR Class Online, January 16, 2021

St. John Valley ARA logo“This class is geared towards explaining why DMR is set up the way it is and why it seems so complicated. By the end of the class it is my hope that you will understand how the DMR repeater system works and also understand the terms to be able program your radio to access the system. This class is focused on the DMR system specific to Maine, which is a C-Bridge / DMR-MARC system, but the content can be applied to almost any MotoTRBO system. This class was developed by kb1zpp and sponsored by the SJVARA.

Note: This is not intended to be a class on how to set up your codeplug but rather how to understand the terms to be able to write a codeplug yourself from scratch. That being said I will have codeplug examples from a few models and may have time at the end of the class to address any brand specific questions. There will be a follow up class “Advanced DMR Programming” to follow this class in the near future which will dive deeper into the programming software side of DMR.

Intro to the Maine DMR System
January 16, 2021
Lobby opens at 16:30 est
Class starts at 17:00 est
Held via www.freeconferencecall.com, you will need an account which is free
You will need a computer, PC or Mac. You won’t see anything on a smartphone.
You will need to download the app from www.freeconferencecall.com
For a walkthrough to set up an account check out the April or November issues of the SJVARA newsletter at www.sjvara.com/feedpoint

Register at <https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeK37_oBBQskFtztsLhYRjOelBuxCUjgFITreusaAVXITW6Gg/viewform>.

WA1ZMS Transmission to Commemorate Fessenden Christmas Eve Broadcast

Reginald Fessenden Commemorative PlaqueFrom ARRL Letter:

As he has done each December for the past few years, Brian Justin, WA1ZMS, of Forest, Virginia, will transmit a program on 486 kHz, under authority of his FCC Part 5 Experimental License WI2XLQ, to commemorate wireless pioneer Reginald Fessenden’s accomplishments. Justin will transmit for at least 24 hours starting at around 1800 UTC on December 24. Fessenden claimed to have made his first voice — and music — broadcast on Christmas Eve in 1906 from Brant Rock, Massachusetts, although his account is disputed.

From Wikipedia:

“Fessenden reported that on the evening of December 24, 1906 (Christmas Eve), he had made the first of two radio broadcasts of music and entertainment to a general audience, using the alternator-transmitter at Brant Rock [Massachusetts]. Fessenden remembered producing a short program that included a phonograph record of Ombra mai fu (Largo) by George Frideric Handel, followed by Fessenden playing Adolphe Adam‘s carol O Holy Night on the violin and singing Adore and be Still by Gounod, and closing with a biblical passage: ‘Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men of good will’ (Luke 2:14). He also stated that a second short program was broadcast on December 31 (New Year’s Eve). The intended audience for both of these transmissions was primarily shipboard radio operators along the Atlantic seaboard. Fessenden claimed that the two programs had been widely publicized in advance, and the Christmas Eve broadcast had been heard ‘as far down’ as Norfolk, Virginia, while the New Year Eve’s broadcast had reached listeners in the West Indies.”

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COVID-19 Vaccine Informational Session Video, Sponsored by Wallingford ARG, Meriden ARC (CT)

Eric Knight, KB1EHE, writes on ct-ares:COVID-19 logo

In case you missed last night’s (December 16, 2020) superb session, here is a video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aNqchMz-4Co

For background / context, below is the bulletin that was distributed prior to the event:


TIME:   December 16, 2020,  07:30 pm (1930) – 9:00 pm (2100) Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Edward Snyder, MD  W1YSM               Professor Laboratory Medicine, Yale University/Yale New-Haven Hospital    (10 min)
Elsie Mathews,  MPH KB1IFZ                Director, Data Management  – Pfizer                                                                       (10 min)
Stephen Civitelli,  RS, MPH                    Director of Health, Town of Wallingford                                                                  (10 min)
Format: There will be three 10 minute presentations followed by 60 minutes of open Q&A  from attendees to the Panel
THIS IS  INFORMATIONAL ONLY FOR THE PUBLIC – There is NO commercial sponsorship or affiliation sponsorship of any type.
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ARRL Headquarters Closed Tomorrow for Winter Storm Bailey

ARRL logoCentral Connecticut, along with much of New England, will be impacted by winter storm Bailey tonight into Thursday and beyond. Estimates have varied widely, but have consistently indicated a major impact. The latest forecast is calling for 11-15” of snow beginning this evening going through tomorrow afternoon.

ARRL CEO David Minster, NA2AA, has announced that the Headquarters building in Newington, Connecticut will be closed for business on Thursday, December 17, 2020.  Employees will be encouraged to work from home; many already are, or are equipped to.

In advance of the storm, ARRL staffers removed some antennas from one of the towers on the HQ roof that was in poor condition. 

Minster anticipates that Headquarters operation “will be back to normal” by Friday.


Fred Hopengarten, K1VR
ARRL Director
New England Division

Phil Temples, K9HI
ARRL Vice Director
New England Division