FCC Eliminates Vanity Call Sign Fee

VanityFeesThe FCC has found that it costs the agency more to process the regulatory fees for amateur radio vanity call signs and other services such as GMRS than the fees themselves cover. Rather than increasing the rate, the FCC has decided to eliminate them altogether. This change will not go into effect until the required congressional notice has been given, which typically takes at least 90 days. Any fees paid prior to the institution of the change will not be refunded. This is great news and a welcome change from the tedious fee recovery process that has been normal.

From the ARRL:

The FCC is eliminating the regulatory fee to apply for an Amateur Radio vanity call sign. The change will not go into effect, however, until required congressional notice has been given. This will take at least 90 days. As the Commission explained in a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, Report and Order, and Order (MD Docket 14-92 and others), released May 21, it’s a matter of simple economics.

“The Commission spends more resources on processing the regulatory fees and issuing refunds than the amount of the regulatory fee payment,” the FCC said. “As our costs now exceed the regulatory fee, we are eliminating this regulatory fee category.” The current vanity call sign regulatory fee is $21.40, the highest in several years. The FCC reported there were 11,500 “payment units” in FY 2014 and estimated that it would collect nearly $246,100.

In its 2014 Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) regarding the assessment and collection of regulatory fees for FY 2014, the FCC had sought comment on eliminating several smaller regulatory fee categories, such as those for vanity call signs and GMRS. It concluded in the subsequent Report and Order (R&O) last summer, however, that it did not have “adequate support to determine whether the cost of recovery and burden on small entities outweighed the collected revenue or whether eliminating the fee would adversely affect the licensing process.”

The FCC said it has since had an opportunity to obtain and analyze support concerning the collection of the regulatory fees for Amateur Vanity and GMRS, which the FCC said comprise, on average, more than 20,000 licenses that are newly obtained or renewed, every 10 and 5 years, respectively.

“The Commission often receives multiple applications for the same vanity call sign, but only one applicant can be issued that call sign,” the FCC explained. “In such cases, the Commission issues refunds for all the remaining applicants. In addition to staff and computer time to process payments and issue refunds, there is an additional expense to issue checks for the applicants who cannot be refunded electronically.”

The Commission said that after it provides the required congressional notification, Amateur Radio vanity program applicants “will no longer be financially burdened with such payments, and the Commission will no longer incur these administrative costs that exceed the fee payments. The revenue that the Commission would otherwise collect from these regulatory fee categories will be proportionally assessed on other wireless fee categories.”

The FCC said it would not issue refunds to licensees who paid the regulatory fee prior to its official elimination.


Special Olympics Radio Support

special olympicsSpecial Olympics Summer Games at California State University, Long Beach provides a great training opportunity for anyone wishing to develop their radio communication skills, with many different scenarios that occur during this event.

The date of the games is 13-14 June 2015, but you must sign up to volunteer before the end of May.  Please contact Scott Marsiglia KI6KWI now to learn more and to get the sign-up form.

This is an interesting and varied radio opportunity, and a big help to a great organization.  The activities of the radio volunteers include:

  • Operators are assigned to a venue, basketball, aquatics, tennis and so on
  • If the venue director needs anything, water, medical staff, facilities access or other resources, the radio operator passes the message regarding the needs of the venue director via radio
  • In some cases, we assist with lost and found
  • Sometimes athletes need to find their coaches
  • We also pass on reports of lost athletes and emergencies that may come up
  • We also find out information for just about anyone who asks

The radio activities are coordinated by a southern California amateur radio organization that has worked this event before, so there is good experience and proper organization going into the event.



Swap Meet Changes – The Latest as of May, 2015

Swap Meet TableIn March, the W6TRW Amateur Radio Club learned that we will no longer be able to hold our monthly Swap Meet at its current location at Northrop Grumman in Redondo Beach.  At the March and April Swap Meets we posted and handed out flyers informing everyone of the changes coming and what our plans are. A copy of the flyer can be found here.

We’ve since heard a lot of rumors and speculation from the ham community about what’s going to happen. Here is latest news direct from the horse’s, err, mouth:

First, the Swap Meet will continue as usual at Northrop Grumman through August 2015. That’s the plan anyway. Things can always change but, as far as we know, we are good through August.  So, plan to come out to the Swap Meet at Northrop Grumman in May, June, July, and August.

What happens in September and beyond? I wish I had a solid answer to that question but, as of right now, things are still up in the air. It is our intention to keep holding the Swap Meet every month, just at a different location. Right now, that location has not been decided but we have some irons in the fire.

We want to keep it in the South Bay area and that limits our choices since we need a pretty big parking lot to adequately accommodate our sellers and buyers. We are in contact with folks at several venues and are working to ink a long-term contract. The last thing we want to do is move again six months down the road. So we are doing our due diligence to make sure all the pieces of the puzzle fall into place.

And that’s really all I can tell you right now because that’s all I know. As soon as we know more, we’ll let you know about it. You can follow us on our web site at w6trw.com, on Twitter at twitter.com/w6trwswapmeet, on Facebook at facebook.com/w6trwswapmeet, or our email list on Yahoo at groups.yahoo.com/w6trwswapmeet.  Yeah, we’re going all social media on you.

We’ve been holding a monthly Swap Meet for almost 40 years and plan to keep going for another 40. We can’t do it without your support and we really thank you for making the Swap Meet what it is – the biggest Ham Radio event in Southern California. The world famous W6TRW Swap Meet!  Come out out to the next one on May 30th.

Rich Sauer, N6CIZ, Swap Meet Manager


W6TRW Has a New Web Site

web-design-1It’s been a long time in the making but we are finally building a new and improved web site for the club. Please be patient as we get things working and updated.  Expect to see some really cool stuff as we build out the site.

Check back often for new content.