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FCC Says "No" to Lifetime Amateur Radio Licenses


The FCC has denied the petition of an Arizona radio amateur, who had petitioned for lifetime Amateur Radio licenses. Mark F. Krotz, N7MK, of Mesa, had filed his Petition for Rule Making (RM 11760) with the FCC last November, and the FCC invited public comments in February. Krotz wanted the FCC to revise § 97.25 of its rules to indicate that Amateur Radio licenses are granted for the holder’s lifetime, instead of for the current 10-year term. Hundreds of radio amateurs commented on the petition, but the FCC was not swayed by those favoring the idea.

Based on our review of the record, we are not persuaded that the petition discloses sufficient grounds for the requested rule change,” the FCC said in a June 21 Order. “Krotz’s primary argument is that extending the term of amateur licenses to the lifetime of the holder would reduce the Commission’s administrative and personnel costs, but it is not clear to us that the proposal actually would enhance administrative efficiency.” That’s because the vast majority of license renewals are submitted online and processed automatically by the Universal Licensing System (ULS), “with minimal staff involvement,” the Order said.


The FCC said it had further reduced its overhead by no longer routinely mailing out paper licenses. “[I]f license terms were extended to the holder’s lifetime, we likely would receive more cancellations on account of the licensee’s death, which are labor-intensive, because staff must carefully verify the deceased’s identity and licenses in order to guard against erroneous cancellations,” the FCC said in its Order, signed by Wireless Telecommunications Bureau Deputy Mobility Division Chief Scot Stone.

Krotz argued that the General Radiotelephone Operator License (GROL) already is issued on a lifetime basis, but the FCC said that’s not a comparable situation, because an Amateur Radio license is both an operator’s license and a station license, “and there is no Commission precedent for issuing a lifetime station license.”

In 2014 the FCC granted lifetime credit for examination elements 3 and 4, but applicants seeking relicensing under that provision still must pass examination element 2. The FCC pointed out in its Order that this was done to address the concerns of commenters that a licensee who had not renewed also may not have maintained or expanded his or her knowledge and skills.



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