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FCC eliminates GMRS regulatory fee

The FCC has eliminated the regulatory fee required to obtain a license for the GMRS.

In a Report and Order released May 21, 2015 as part of the FCC's notice of proposed regulatory fees for fiscal year 2015, the commission issued a Report and Order to eliminate the regulatory fee for the General Mobile Radio Service effective this year.

The fee, which was previously assessed at $5 per year, added $25 to the total cost of a GMRS license, which has a term of five years. While it does not eliminate the cost of a license altogether, the complete elimination of the regulatory fee brings the total cost of a General Mobile Radio Service license from $90 down to $65.

According to the FCC, the fee simply wasn't worth the cost. in the Report and Order, the commission stated:

"After analyzing the costs of processing fee payments for GMRS, we conclude that the
Commission's cost of collecting and processing this fee exceeds the payment amount of $25. Our costs have increased over time and now that the costs exceed the amount of the regulatory fee, the increased relative administrative cost supports eliminating this regulatory fee category."

The GMRS license required two fees, the application fee and the FCC regulatory fee. The total cost of a GMRS license has risen through the years, mostly due to automatic, scheduled increases in the application fee. In 2014 the total cost of a GMRS license rose again, from $85 to $90. The cost of a GMRS license is currently greater than the cost of most higher end GMRS radios for which the license is required to operate, and more than double the cost of an entry level radio.

The disproportionately high cost of GMRS licensing compared to other types of radio service licenses and to the GMRS radio equipment itself has been a growing complaint among GMRS users, and is a primary reason why many who are aware of the license requirement do not purchase one.

The FCC, acknowledging the problem, gave it as another reason to remove the fee. "Once eliminated, these licensees 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 commission added in the report.

This is not the first time the FCC has considered the costs and caveats of licensing the GMRS. In 2010, the commission proposed to do away with the requirement for individual licensing altogether and instead license by rule. However, backlash from the community of licensed GMRS users helped stall the decision and as the FCC has since noted on their web site, "the proposal is still pending".

Is the elimination of the GMRS regulatory fee the beginning of the end of the individual GMRS license requirement? If not, will the application fee remain and continue to rise automatically on its own until it even surpasses the previous $90 fee?

Tell us what you think. Enter your comments below.

84 thoughts on “FCC eliminates GMRS regulatory fee”

  • Randy

    I cannot believe that you are a HAM. With all of the public service and emergency communications that HAM's do, you want to charge them for a license on top of it?

  • David William

    Back in the 70's, CB radio was a licensed service that got so big the FCC could barely keep up with license demand among other issues concerning CB radio so the FCC deregulated or stopped the requirement for CB radio license. The FCC knew "IMO" that by deregulation the user's of the service would ruin the CB radio band because of silliness from non licensed operators. And that's exactly what happened. The band was not fit to use any more. We had 8 uhf channel pairs available for use in the GMRS band back when business were aloud to obtain a license for a channel
    pair and a spare , Radio's were of commercial grade ie. Uniden built the SMU300k series at 30 watt's of power, Motorola had there versions, Midland, GE, etc. Most were mobils and repeater packages allowing 50 watts maximum power output. This allowed for a very clean usable signal
    and was governed by the license requirements and restrictions.Then the FCC was lobbied by the Tandy Corporation and subsequently Radio Shack for a change from business class license to an individual or family level license and the business license was stopped by the commission.
    Tandy now floods the market with FRS very low power walkie talkie family radio service UHF frequency radios. Next comes the combination of FRS GMRS low end radios for sale/use on the GMRS band at higher power allocations including license applications knowing full well that most will never fill out let alone pay for a license that illegal operation of said equipment will most assuredly not be able to be tracked .Now the original license ees that have invested in good equipment and put up stations legally including repeaters which are allowed for family use are having to deal with hundreds of non-licensed cheap GMRS FRS radio users which always show up on the Licensed part of the GMRS band rather than using the FRS side of the band. We have no way of tracking a blatant violation or malicious interference . Thanks Tandy Corporation, I'm pretty sure they have made lots of money at the expense of the legally licensed and thanks FCC for always caving into special interest. The honest people get the shaft again!

  • Paul Young

    I am a HAM and GMRS user. I'm in Northern California where PAVE PAWS has shut down the 440 MHZ or 70CM band. The only alternative is 220MHZ or GMRS. Some have gone to GMRS. My suggestion is do away with licenses for the "Bubble Pack" radio's that kids use or mom and pop use camping. It is a joke to even pay $65 for a license for those. For repeater users that transmits long distances the License is fine in my opinion. The radio's needed for repeater operation are far more expensive and detailed than just a couple radio's a Big 5. It isn't enforced anyway. Sure they can use the FRS side of the radio but who does? I hear plenty of families using GMRS without any license. In my opinion it was a mistake to create FRS/GMRS radio's.

  • Tom Hornick

    I see no problem with licensing the GMRS service. If it is not licensed, it will become overly crowded with abusers just as the 11 meter band has become. I have no problem paying the $65 application fee for the ability to use this bandwidth.

  • Michael Wilson

    There should be no license requirements for GMRS usage. Why was there a fee imposed in the first place? There is no test or exam requirements to operate the radio. Makes no logical sense to pay for a license????

  • Tony

    That is what the licenses is for. Any Radio above .5watts which is the max a GMRS radio can transmit on without a licenses, which is why you don't need a license to operate one that you buy from walmart, but if i wanted to use a highpowered gmrs radio or even a 50watt mobile GMRS radio then i would need the license. But i see you have a Call Sign for Amituer radio i ass-u-me you knew this and i may be wrong on my part, Square me away if i am thanks

  • Cody Marshall

    I'm really glad the fee has been reduced, but I think it should have been lowered much more. I'm going to omit discussion about the "bubble pack" issue, and just mention that we ought to be very careful that we don't push the FCC to get rid of the service all together. The FCC charges premiums for bandwidth, bandwidth which is only going to grow in demand.
    The GMRS service is unique in the USA and we should keep it that way, 5W on some channels, 50W on others, and repeaters! Not to mention you can adjust antennas. Oh and it can be used for business related purposes (within licensee)
    As a GMRS repeater user I am very interested in keeping this service alive, given that it is a family license makes it perfect for those not wanting Ham Radio licenses but still have interest. GMRS is a unique service, lets protect it. I agree with a license, but think we should do a 10 year license like ham radio and reduce the fee to as low as we can.

  • Phil Cooper

    Make the application an online form: You fill in the requested information and within seconds the FCC's Web site emails you the automatically-generated license form, which you can print on your own printer, cut out, laminate and put into your wallet on your own dime. All fees can go away, or at least be reduced to a small, nominal amount. If any application fee is charged for the online application, it could be a small, nominal amount, such as $10, or less, payable online with a credit card or PayPal.
    Only if someone is computer-impaired and cannot complete the process online should a substantial application fee be charged to defray the cost of someone physically handling a mailed-in form and having to key in the information.

  • Andre

    No fees! But limit repeaters in metro areas.

  • tom

    There is a gmrs repeater that, I use, it is at 9000' between two valleys. It will communicate as far as the 2m and 70cm repeaters that are on the same ridge/mtn. Yes there are amateur freqs that will allow more distant comms when, the conditions are right. But, at uhf, gmrs will communicate just as far as amateur.... Keep the license! I hold Amateur and GMRS licenses as, do many others in my area.

  • John

    Doesn't make sense, who cares about $25, I thought the purpose was to allow people to use a 1 or 2 watt bubble pack without getting a license.
    This did not solve anything, do you really think someone is going to buy their kid a walkie talkie for $20 and pay $65 for the license.
    $95 is fine for getting to use 50 watts of power, but to pay $65 to talk around the block.
    Others are saying no fee for using ham radio, how many thousands of watts they can use for free and you have to pay to use 1 watt.
    What a waste of tax payer money to talk it over for years and then to not do anything at all. You will not see a license increase just because it got reduced by $25
    I'll stick with CB Radio, you can talk farther on that frequency than you can with a bubble pack GMRS radio.

  • Bill

    The FCC does not charge for ham radio licenses. Until this fall, there is an FCC fee for vanity calls, but that is going away and other than that the license is free.
    There is a fee allowed to be charged for the Volunteer Exam Coordinators for administration of the license exam to cover the expense of processing the test and application. Most, but not all, VEC's charge this fee to sit for an exam.
    Once you pass the exam, the FCC issues the license for free and renewals are free if you do them yourself with the FCC.

  • kf4sci

    Years ago CB Radio required a license but the channels rapidly became useless due to abuse. I predict FRS & GMRS will end up the same. What really scares me is now that inexpensive Chinese transceivers that operate on several Amateur Bands are available to ANYONE, this will infect the ham frequencies and we will spend most of our time tracking down illegal stations rather than enjoying decent worldwide communication. Drop the fees BUT enforce the rules this time so everyone can use the airwaves! Make the penalties so severe that it isn't worth violating the rules.

  • Rick

    Hi Debra, yes, this is real. To clarify, as the article stated, the FCC is eliminating the regulatory fee only. The application fee will still be required, at least for the near term. In addition, it will not take effect until sometime around October 2015.

  • John Willis

    Ham radio is not an expensive license, but it is not free. The most important thing about the radio is the test you must take to get the right to talk on these frequencies. HAM radio is a great resource. We need to keep it a licensed service with an exam to get in. GMRS is also a great service but everyone can get a radio very cheaply and there are no test to get the license. The license should be absolutely free.
    John Willis KC5EVC

  • Debra Heywood

    Is this real?

  • You know there is no fee for an Amateur Radio License, right? It's free . . .
    Also, as of 6/18 FCC is still charging this fee, so the article jumped the gun a bit. It's going to take a while for it to trickle into effect.

  • Jay Fleming

    This is a good decision. I live in a very rural area with few ham radio operators for emergencies. Many people including my wife, have no interest in getting her ham license. GMRS is a good alternative for rural ares with few resources.

  • Steve

    It is idiotic for the FCC to require a $65 or $90 license to operate a GMRS radio that costs less for a pair than it does for a license. You can buy these radios anywhere, with no restrictions. You can use them anonymously and never face any kind of penalty. The license does not guarantee that operators will follow any known rules, any more than it does for the Amateur Radio community. The difference between GMRS and Amateur Radio is that Amateur Radio operators can operate up to 1500 watts, enough power to do physical harm to other people, and disrupt radio communications around the world. A handheld GMRS radio cannot. You're lucky to talk five miles. Too bad for the folks who shelled out money for a license. It's no different than the amateur radio operators who are angry because the Morse Code requirement went away. Things change. Fees go up. Fees go down. Life moves forward. I can't understand why the folks who make GMRS radios are not the ones lobbying heavily AGAINST licensing. I would buy a pair of their radios if there were no license requirement. But since my Amateur license was much cheaper and I can communicate much farther, I'll wait until there is no license.

  • I'm happy to see this. GMRS should remain a licensed service, and by lowering the fees, maybe we will soon see more people willing to obtain a license and more people willing to install GMRS repeaters in areas like we have in Southern Oregon. Check out mygmrs.org to see just how many GMRS repeaters are active in this country, and see the advantages to keeping GMRS licensed with the ability to have both GMRS repeaters and Mobile Radios with up to 50 watts of power.
    People should also check and see which commercial UHF radios are in fact Part 95 certified. Many Kenwood, Motorola, Midland, and Icom radios have carried part 95 certification for a long time unknown to most amateur and GMRS users.
    If people do not wish to get a license, then the FRS, and interstitial FRS/GMRS frequencies offer that at .5 watts with inexpensive radios readily available at many large chain stores across the nation.


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