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ARRL General Bulletin ARLB019 (2015)

ARLB019 FCC Eliminates Amateur Radio Vanity Call Sign Regulatory Fee

QST de W1AW  
ARRL Bulletin 19  ARLB019
From ARRL Headquarters  
Newington CT  May 26, 2015
To all radio amateurs 

ARLB019 FCC Eliminates Amateur Radio Vanity Call Sign Regulatory Fee

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.


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