Why Fees Will Kill Ham Radio
Posted by W2NAP, SEP 24, 2020
As you may know right now as of Sept of 2020 the FCC is taking comments about adding a $50 fee to get a ham license, renew a ham license or get a vanity call. You can read more about it HERE
Why will this be a bad thing you may ask? It will result in the end of ham radio! No it won't die overnight but it will be a war of attrition taking years for the toll to be seen. Current license counts right now are about 750,000 in the United States, Yeah it is not a huge huge number but it is a hefty one, if you put all licenced hams in a city it would be the 18th largest city by population a bit higher then Seattle, WA (724K). So why is a fee bad? You will see license counts drop like a rock, majority of non-hams are not going to pay $50 just to get a license to get into ham radio so that right there will kill growth. They will say, if I want to play with ancient tech why pay $10-20 for the test and then $50 for a license when I can just use a CB for free?
So at that point instead of having 10 20 or more people at the monthly tech test, you have 0. You end up counting on one hand the amount of test takers in a year if you have any at all! Trust me if ham radio had a license fee back in 2000 when I got my license well I wouldn't have bothered with it nor would have a lot of the people I know licensed since I got mine. Now add in the people who currently have a license but are not very active, how many of them will pay $50 for something they hardly use? Very few to none, so that is when the license counts start to drop shedding thousands if not tens of thousands per year. What about people like me who are active? Well I ain't going to pay and the people I talk to also have said to me they won't pay, hell we done have a plan in place already instead of talking on 147.420FM or 144.233USB we will just remove the little diode in our radios and use one of the MURS channels and radio for FREE like we have the last 20 years on ham radio. Oh you say what about talking DX on HF? yeah we can do that on CB for free also, and good chance once the fees are a thing you will have freeband group spots on HF so yeah we will still DX. I can see you saying this now "most people will just fork over the cash you just don't care about ham radio to pay for it!" Well you are wrong, we like ham radio but when it comes to spending money for nothing* I would rather spend $50 on something I need and you will find out more people are going to just walk away and pirate for free then to pay.
* To those thinking this fee is going to magically get the FCC to go after made in china junk that is spuring up the bands with RFI, or the people who jam HF freqs all day long, well sad news it won't enforcement won't improve it will just continue to be ignored like it is now. Only thing that will change is you will now be paying for the crap service from the FCC getting nothing in return
Remember the license count numbers I was talking about, my honest guess is 11-12 years after the fee is forced on hams, you will have about 100,000 or less licenses left. At that point good luck! As you can bet it won't be long after that till you have commercial groups pushing for the ham bands above 50MHz. Oh they will never take 2 meters or 70cm! HA the big commercial money will talk and they will have low license count numbers to back them. And in 10-20 years who knows maybe some HF bands will follow.
So it is not FT8 that is going to kill ham radio it will be fees, and before some Aussie or some other ham from another nation that has to pay pips in about how they have to, yeah I know you have to pay, but how many more active licenses would your nation have if is was FREE like the USA? Answer: A lot.