FCC Relinquishes Amateur Radio Licensing

fcc-logoIn a shocking and unexpected move, the FCC today transferred all amateur radio licensing responsibility to QRZ.com, releasing Report and Order 2013-699.  Outgoing Chairman Julius Genchowski read a statement noting that the decision was due to a combination automatic budget cuts from budget sequestration and an acknowledgement of reality.  Other commissioners released similar written statements.  The Report and Order stated,  ”Our enforcement bureau received an inquiry from a radio amateur who was banned from QRZ.com (“QRZ”), an amateur radio portal and a popular callsign database.  After his callsign listing was removed from the QRZ database, amateurs frequently questioned on the air whether he was really licensed.  On a few occasions he was actually referred to as a ‘bootlegger’ by other radio amateurs, a derogatory term for an unlicensed individual operating illegally.  Our research indicates that few licensees actually use the FCC ULS [the official online licensing database] for amateur radio license queries.  In this ruling we have identified an opportunity to shed the responsibility of licensing and reduce administrative costs, and are therefore transferring administration of amateur radio licensing to a private entity.”


FCC Chairman Genchowski Makes Announcement to Stunned Audience

At press time ARRL had not released a written statement due to a backlog in the ARRL email server, still processing emails from a month ago.  However, in a conference call this afternoon it was announced that ARRL was petitioning the FCC to withdraw the R&O until it could present its solution for privatizing amateur radio licensing, a solution employing 65,535 bit encryption technology which would be ready sometime in 2019.

QRZ praised the FCC change and announced that for a limited time free Extra class upgrades will be included with an XML subscription or purchase of Ham Radio Deluxe.  QRZ forums were abuzz, with both support for and opposition against the change.  One super moderator stated that QRZ super moderators will have enforcement privileges, with the ability to revoke licenses for bad behavior both online and on the air, later taunting to users to step out of line and “feel his wrath.”

The FCC announcement is the most notable change in US amateur radio licensing since the controversial and still-debated Incentive Licensing program, and will go into effect upon publication of the Report and Order in the Federal Register.

Anthony, K3NG, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com.

24 Responses to “FCC Relinquishes Amateur Radio Licensing”

  • I’m glad we could be a part of breaking this important story. I’m sure this announcement will dominate all amateur radio blogs and forums for the foreseeable future. (Well, at least through tomorrow!)

  • Doug WA0EMX:

    Tsk, tsk, Tony. Didn’t you jump the gun with this announcement?
    Didn’t you read the addendum to the Report and Order forbidding release PRIOR to APRIL 1st? For your sake, I hope there is no hidden penalty specified in the R&O for such preemptive shennanigans.

  • I was going by UTC time 🙂

  • Bob KTØT:

    Maybe that’s why the QRZ DNS wouldn’t resolve this evening… too many upgrade attempts.

  • john ......g4wqz:

    1st of April? (april fools day, maybe?)

    enjoy the day!

  • WA0JDL:

    Where are we headed to the wonderland of the old CB days?

  • Even worse, a QRZ wonderland of the future!

  • AE1PT:

    This is superb! Now all the Zed needs to do is forced a takeover of ARRL, and the Zed’s Supermoderators could control the world! (or at least threaten a few wayward hams)

    I hear that there will be a free 30 day trial subscription to the XML databas3 and HRD for a limited time only…

  • Rick N9EHQ:

    If this were true I will let my license lapse. Shame been licensed for 30+ years. Prefer to look at it as an April Fools prank.

  • David AA4ZU:

    Hot Dam. It is about time!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Russ KK4HUJ:

    I have to agree it’s obviously a fake April Fool’s story -but- if somehow it’s true I’m done with amateur radio.

  • Matt W1MST:

    No worries, Russ, it’s all in good April Fool’s fun.

    Goody, K3NG, has a colorful history of giving us all a good laugh every April 1st. 😉

  • John W3RC:

    10-4 good buddies. Got yer ears on? What’s your 20? Lmao! Good times. This is actually a real good one! Have a good day, and a better one tomorrow 😉

  • w8vfm:

    If it were so; why is the announcement on on the FCC website? Gotcha!

  • I expect the FCC will privatize amateur licensing sometime in the future. The article I posted last year about the government harvesting organs from hams hasn’t come to fruition yet, despite what they say on 80m.

  • m.v. miller, W9MVM:


  • John, K6CPO:

    I’d like to use this in my club’s newsletter. Is it possible for me to get permission to do so?


  • Matt W1MST:

    Hi John — you can check with the author directly. Email him at anthony -dot- good -at- gmail -dot- com.

  • Cliff KU4GW:

    Had to share this one! Thanks Anthony!


    Thanks for wasting my time, kids do APRILS FOOL jokes not grown-ups!

  • Karl SM0AOM:

    “Reality trumps fiction”

    In Sweden, amateur radio licensing has been privatized since 2004.
    The national amateur radio society, SSA, has handled all phases of licensing, due to lack of interest by the Swedish telecommunications regulator.

    This undertaking was done without any legal foundation until July 1, 2011 when the Law of Electronic Communication was amended with a formal recognition of amateur radio licensing. Technically, all Swedish amateur calls starting with SA are “boot-leggers”.

  • Nick AD0kx:

    Sound good in but there might be problems down the road that makes this a bad idea like the ham band we have now are reduce because the fcc is not making money on ham radio anymore.

  • K8SSS:


  • Janice Nichols KE0FEQ:

    Man I was fixing to have a major case of the…well, you know what. I worked hard for my Extra & giving free upgrades? Oh no no no….

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