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ARRL General Bulletin ARLB031 (2020)

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ARLB031 ARRL Urges Members to Join in Strongly Opposing FCC's
Application Fees Proposal

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ARRL Bulletin 31  ARLB031
From ARRL Headquarters  
Newington CT  October 28, 2020
To all radio amateurs 

SB QST ARL ARLB031
ARLB031 ARRL Urges Members to Join in Strongly Opposing FCC's
Application Fees Proposal

ARRL will file comments in firm opposition to an FCC proposal to
impose a $50 fee on amateur radio license and application fees. With
the November 16 comment deadline fast approaching, ARRL urges
members to add their voices to ARRL's by filing opposition comments
of their own. The FCC Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) MD Docket
20-270 appeared in the October 15 edition of The Federal Register
and sets deadlines of November 16 to comment and November 30 to post
reply comments, which are comments on comments already filed.

The NPRM can be found online at, https://tinyurl.com/yyk8f2yp .

ARRL has prepared a Guide to Filing Comments with the FCC which
includes tips for preparing comments and step-by-step filing
instructions. File comments on MD Docket 20-270 using the FCC's
Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS).  The instructions can be
found online at, http://www.arrl.org/FCC-Fees-Proposal .

Under the proposal, amateur radio licensees would pay a $50 fee for
each amateur radio application for new licenses, license renewals,
upgrades to existing licenses, and vanity call sign requests. The
FCC also has proposed a $50 fee to obtain a printed copy of a
license. Excluded are applications for administrative updates, such
as changes of address, and annual regulatory fees. Amateur Service
licensees have been exempt from application fees for several years.

The FCC proposal is 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." The Act
requires that the FCC switch from a Congressionally-mandated fee
structure to a cost-based system of assessment. In its NPRM, 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. The 2018 statute excludes the Amateur Service from annual
regulatory fees, but not from application fees. The FCC proposal
affects all FCC services and does not single out amateur radio.

ARRL is encouraging members to file comments that stress amateur
radio's contributions to the country and communities. ARRL's Guide
to Filing Comments includes "talking points" that may be helpful in
preparing comments. These stress amateur radio's role in
volunteering communication support during disasters and emergencies,
and inspiring students to pursue education and careers in
engineering, radio technology, and communications.

As the FCC explained in its NPRM, Congress, through the Ray Baum's
Act, is compelling regulatory agencies such as the FCC to recover
from applicants the costs involved in filing and handling
applications.

In its NPRM the FCC encouraged licensees to update their own
information online without charge. Many, if not most, Amateur
Service applications may be handled via the largely automated
Universal License Service (ULS). The Ray Baum's Act does not exempt
filing fees in the Amateur Radio Service, and the FCC stopped
assessing fees for vanity call signs several years ago.

See also "FCC Proposes to Reinstate Amateur Radio Service Fees,"
reported by ARRL in August, at,
http://www.arrl.org/news/fcc-proposes-to-reinstate-amateur-radio-service-fees
.  

A summary page of the proceeding can also be found online at,
http://www.arrl.org/FCC-Fees-Proposal .
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