FCC Vanity Call Sign Petition Too Restrictive

Nov 13, 2016

by Jerry A. Goodson W5BFF

Christopher LaRue W4ADL of North Las Vegas, Nevada, petitioned the commission on October 4, 2016, that any licensee obtaining a vanity call sign be required to keep it for the full license term.  Comments on the Petition RM-11775 will be accepted by the FCC until November 25, 2016 through the Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS).  To submit an express comment at the link provided, enter RM-11775 in the "Proceeding(s)" block.

Last year, the FCC eliminated filing fees for vanity call sign applications.  Since then, a few devious hams have capitalized on the ease and cost-free application system to apply for multiple coveted 1x2 and 2x1 vanity call signs.  This effectively keeps the calls unavailable for the statutory two years.  Their motivation is to keep new "code-less" Extra Class hams from obtaining the call signs as they come available.  

In the most extreme case I've heard, LaRue stated in his petition, "I even saw an older operator that said he does it all the time and has not even owned a radio in over six years. When I looked him up he has had sixteen different ones in eighteen months."

LaRue is correct that there is a problem, but his proposal to bind an amateur radio operator to a vanity call sign for the duration of a 10-year license is a bit extreme.  I submitted a less-restrictive proposal to the commission that would still discourage the practice:

Thank you for your submission to the FCC Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS).
Please Note that your filing will not be available for searching until it has been reviewed and posted by the FCC.

Confirmation Number: 201611131946921772

Proceeding(s): RM-11775 : To amend the amateur radio rules to prohibit frequent changing of vanity call signs

Filer(s): Jerry A. Goodson W5BFF

Brief Comments: I would like to comment on the proposed rule making RM-11775 submitted by amateur radio licensee Christopher J LaRue W4ADL, dated 4 October 2016.

I recommend the following rule changes:

A licensee who is granted a vanity call sign is not eligible to request a new vanity call sign sign until such time as the previous call sign is released to the available call signs pool plus one month.

Exception: A one-time exception would apply to an initial grant of a vanity call sign to an amateur who was granted a vanity call sign that has not yet been released to the available calls pool and who was not eligible to receive the call sign under the previous license class.

Exception: A one-time exception would apply to the granting of a vanity call sign to an amateur who was granted a vanity call sign that has not yet been released to the available calls pool and who is applying for the call sign of a deceased family member.

Address: 2674 CR 3214 , Atlanta, TX 75551

The FCC will not make a released call sign available until two years have lapsed from the call sign release date.  The only two exceptions to this rule are applying for the call sign of a close deceased relative, or applying for a call sign that was previously held by the licensee.  The reason?  The FCC wanted to implement safeguards against vanity call sign mills.  Their concern was people would get cool call signs, then try to sell them.  For example, let's say I wanted N5JG (my initials).  A quick lookup on QRZ.com reveals that call sign currently belongs to Jesse Garnett.  I can't contact Jesse Garnett and offer to purchase the call sign from him if he'd just release it and get a new one.  The FCC is very firm on this, as I recently applied for a 1x2 call sign, and my son wanted my current call sign.  The options we were given was I could die, or he would have to wait two years to get it.