Exam / Licence Price & Young People ..

ACMA, Licencing, and Examination discussion
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Exam / Licence Price & Young People ..

Post by VK8NSB » Sat Jan 22, 2011 3:11 pm

I see in the Forums a few threads about how do we get kids into the hobby, promoting the hobby , what about the expense to actually get into the hobby ..
Lets sum it all up , say you are starting out from Scratch , Nil knowledge , Foundation licence level ..

Foundation Manual - $25

Foundaton Exam - $70 (Note $35 if your under the age of 18 )

Amateur Licence - $65 Per Year

So basically If you are under 18 years old it is going to cost you , just to get a licence $125 and over 18 years old cost your up for is $160. WOW and this is before you have actually got on air, HF rig to purchase, price - between $300 to $5000+ , say for luck, you are able to pick up a nice rig for $500 (basic HF rig), you will need a Antenna & Coax , all adds up , so say to get you on Air with Manual , exam, licence & equipment to setup a basic HF station it will cost you about $1000. Take out $35 if your under 18 years old, oh then you pray you don't cause TVI and begin to enjoy the hobby. You might say, yes but you would spend this sort of money for any hobby, well yes you might but what about this for a thought ... Cost of a Laptop (Portable) is about $500, internet - cheap - No exam to study for, talk around the world 24/7 with face to face video chats ..I wonder if this is why we are not getting new younger Amateurs into the hobby .. ?

I feel we need to approach who ever makes the decision (WIA ?) on Exam fee amounts and request for price's to be reduced, surely for 1 or 2 piece's of paper to be posted around Australia it would not cost more then $10 .. ? Licence fee - again who makes this decision, if it is the Government , why can't the WIA approach them and request cheaper rates , only cost me $70 for my driving licence for 5 years up here in Darwin so why do Amateurs pay so much money for there licence for 1 year ?

Anyway, these are just my thoughts, I would love to see more people in this great hobby, I believe that in the next 20 years the population of Amateurs in Australia will be reduced to extreme levels, even with the Foundation licence introduced, I don't think its enough, what do you do, very good question, why not allow Foundation licence users to use there Computers with digital modes .. 1 suggestion, I don't know the answers and I don't want to start a text war on this forum, I am just expressing my thoughts about a issue that I feel is important .. Basically we need more Amateurs in our ranks , and yes the internet has taken allot of them from us , but we need to use the internet / computers to our advantage , which I don't feel we are doing , specially with the Foundation / Entry level licence not allowed the use of computers with the hobby.

In final, I went to Dayton in May 2010 and saw allot of people (can't tell you exact numbers- would be couple of hundred) doing exams and they are free in the USA ..

Enjoy Amateur Radio -- Use it or lose -- One day we might have it ..
Stuie

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Re: Exam / Licence Price & Young People ..

Post by VK2AAH » Sat Jan 22, 2011 4:59 pm

Stuie,

How are these costs any less than when I started back in the late 1970s? Exams were much cheaper but the cost of radios, antennas, accessories- and licences- have not risen anywhere near CPI over this time. My first ham rig I purchased when I got my ticket was a new FT290R from Dick Smiths (1981 I think)... and it was not cheap in terms of days I needed to work to pay for it.

I think this argument is exaggerated. If kids want to choose AR they will. The problem is that they generally don't.

Cheers,


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Re: Exam / Licence Price & Young People ..

Post by VK8NSB » Sat Jan 22, 2011 5:25 pm

Richard, If you note I have not gone off about the expense of the equipment, only the licence / Exam's cost ... I think we need to reduce the cost .. $70 for couple of pieces of paper mailed from Melbourne and back -- don't know how they justify the cost .. Also we need to have Computers as part of the entry entry level as most young people have a computer in the house ..
Stuie

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Re: Exam / Licence Price & Young People ..

Post by VK3ZFS » Sat Jan 22, 2011 7:38 pm

ACMA did look at making, Amateur Licences, Class Licences, apply 1 time, then its for Life, no annual fees, like in the USA and UK, but the WIA chicked out, saying if we dont pay our way ACMA will not care about VK Hams!

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Re: Exam / Licence Price & Young People ..

Post by VK6OX » Sat Jan 22, 2011 7:49 pm

VK3ZFS wrote:ACMA did look at making, Amateur Licences, Class Licences, apply 1 time, then its for Life, no annual fees, like in the USA and UK, but the WIA chicked out, saying if we dont pay our way ACMA will not care about VK Hams!
Could you please point me to some solid documentation or other evidence to back up your statement. I find the highlighted section above hard to accept, but am prepared to be proven wrong. :?
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Re: Exam / Licence Price & Young People ..

Post by VK3ZFS » Sat Jan 22, 2011 9:47 pm

Maybe Chicked out, a poor choice of word, at the time I recalled early 2000s ACMA or WIA had discussions and Class Licences were rejected by WIA or Members at the time.

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Re: Exam / Licence Price & Young People ..

Post by VK1MA » Sun Jan 23, 2011 12:38 am

VK3ZFS wrote:Maybe Chicked out, a poor choice of word, at the time I recalled early 2000s ACMA or WIA had discussions and Class Licences were rejected by WIA or Members at the time.
I recall attending one of the public meetings hosted by ACMA at the time and they asked for peoples thoughts on the topic. A significant majority of those present at the meeting I went to were against the proposal to not pay licensing fees on the basis that it was thought that as long as we paid a licence fee (however low in comparison to the real value of the spectrum) that we would have more justification for ACMA assistance than if we didn't pay anything. This concept was being pushed by a wide range of people - both WIA and non WIA, and I suspect had a reasonable level of input to the decision.

In hindsight I suspect the minimal fees that we pay for the rather large slab of spectrum we enjoy have no real impact on ACMA decision processes - they already give us far more support than we "pay" for. To see how well off we are, try the licensing fees for just one HF spot frequency - similar amount of money as 10 years or so of amateur licence fees! - and my figures for that are damn near 10 years old, so would hate to see what it would cost now.

Still, probably bugger all that can be done now to change it now.


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Re: Exam / Licence Price & Young People ..

Post by VK3ALB » Sun Jan 23, 2011 6:12 am

VK8NSB wrote:
Foundation Manual - $25

Foundaton Exam - $70 (Note $35 if your under the age of 18 )

Amateur Licence - $65 Per Year

.

Kid's game or clothes for that matter - easy to blow $25 and have not much to show for it.

Foundation exam - either way it's pretty good. Take a family of four out to a nice meal incl entree and there's not much change out of $100.

License fee 65/12 = Less than $6 per month which is less than pay TV (blah) or a few videos from the shop (also blah)

I have video of my 14 year old son working a distant station on all bands from 50MHz thru 10GHz during a recent field day event. The smile on his face as he's making the contacts and afterwards when he watches the video is well worth the costs of getting him into Amateur radio.

I have one advanced and three foundation licenses in my household and I think it's a reasonable investment.
Lou - VK3ALB

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Re: Exam / Licence Price & Young People ..

Post by VK2ZRH » Sun Jan 23, 2011 8:50 am

VK3ZFS wrote:
ACMA did look at making, Amateur Licences, Class Licences, apply 1 time, then its for Life, no annual fees, like in the USA and UK, but the WIA chicked out, saying if we dont pay our way ACMA will not care about VK Hams!

and later:
Maybe Chicked out, a poor choice of word, at the time I recalled early 2000s ACMA or WIA had discussions and Class Licences were rejected by WIA or Members at the time.
An interesting 'take' on amateur licensing here and overseas, Frank. :shock:

And it's based on your contemporary diary notes and minutes of meetings, published reports, ACMA publications and the WIA's Amateur Radio magazine ?

Sounds like urban myth, to me. An oft-repeated urban myth. In the early 2000s (as in 2000 ~ 2004), I was "there", too. I still have the documentation. 8)

Four year-olds have the best approach when they are told things. They ask: "But why?" and "How come?". :P [Parent: "Share your toys when playing with Karen". 4yo: "But why?". Parent: "Because it's only fair." 4yo: "How come?"]

The "fee-free" licence (as in USA, UK, Canada et al) idea was about when I attained my licence (VK3ZRY) in 1964.

However, in 1994 when the then-SMA proposed raising the Amateur licence fee from $37 to $72 (originally set at $144, but internally, officers persuaded the SMA executive to pull back from that), a campaign to get a fee-free licence for amateurs was widely canvassed and promoted - and discussed in the pages of AR.

The campaign was unsuccessful, and for a very compelling reason, Frank - not the least of which was that the then-ACA didn't want to go there.

That aside, it needs to be pointed out that the Australian radiocommunications legislative and regulatory regime is quite different to those in the UK, USA and Canada.

The license-fee free licensing framework - Class licensing - is prescriptive and restrictive, offering the least regulatory "intervention", but in doing so is very prescriptive about technical parameters and standards. This is so that the regulator - the ACMA - is able to take pretty much a "hands off" role, except at the outset of establishing a Class licence regime for particular applications or technologies. Then, the rules impose a "you cop the problems" operating regime on users. We'd have the same status as CB operators. To wit - fully technically prescribed equipment of low power and low interference potential (except to each other). Class licensing is a kind of "set and forget" regime.

Under a Class licence, call signs would be a "free for all", for example. Pick your own. And a different one next week. NO recognition of your Amateur licence status in other countries. There'd be NO build/experiment with your own rigs, amps, ATUs, modulators, whatever.

Under Apparatus licensing, the regulator knows and acknowledges that you passed a recognised qualification, who you are and where you live. A unique callsign is issued to each licensee. When you're on the air, that callsign establishes those three things. If someone misappropriates your callsign and uses it for their own purpose, you have a comeback on the regulator - the ACMA. And the regulator has an interest in pursuing the pirate.

Paying a licence fee gives the Amateur community a regular "seat at the table" in the process of deciding regulatory issues both domestically and globally. That's worth a lot for the considerable privileges we enjoy. Class-licensed CBers don't get that.

There's a whole hierarchy of rights and recognitions that attach to an Amateur licence under the Australian Apparatus licensing regime. And they're aligned with pretty much most Amateur licensing systems around the world. They wouldn't be there under Class licensing. Maybe you wouldn't miss them. But others surely would.

Some years ago, during a large, international hang-gliding event in Australia, foreign hang gliding competitors brought their own handheld VHF rigs with them for ground-to-air and other related communications. They were 2m ham rigs. WIA representations to the regulator at the time had them pretty smartly off the air. Similar incidents associated with international car racing events were also dealt with, not so long ago. So-called long-distance wireless telephone handsets operating on 2m have also been put off the air in recent years. Under a Class licence - with no licensing fee - you could forget all that.

The proponents of Class licensing for Australian radio amateurs dredged up all sorts of arguments to support their case for a fee-free licence - generally shown to be flawed or specious. All for the sake of ditching the licence fee.

It's not that a Class licence for amateurs couldn't be drafted - indeed, I have a copy of one, which was prepared (by a radio amateur, but not an amateur legislative drafter) to demonstrate that it could be done.

By all means go on blaming the WIA for 'chickening out' - you're only blaming the members, after all :wink: . But take a little time to check out why the situation is as it is.

Consider this. The radiofrequency spectrum is a "public good". A natural resource available to all. The question is, how can it be shared among widely differing interests ? There are commerical, defence, government, community and individual interests. Among the latter two there are recreational - hobby - interests, which have an equally legitimate claim to pursuing their interests. Stop for a moment and replace "land" for radiofrequency spectrum. The same competing interests line up - including recreational interests, be it sports, bycicle riding, bushwalking and so on. Managing access to land for all the competing interests has been the role of governments since . . . historical times :lol:. Returning to the radiofrequency spectrum, you can get some understanding of the ACMA's (its forebears'and predecessors') role.

Tip your lid once a year (or 5 years) and pay your licence fee with a smile (a wry one, if you must). There endeth the sermon for today. :mrgreen:

Posted in the interests of clarifying the issues the issues and dispelling the urban myths.

73, Roger Harrison VK2ZRH

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Re: Exam / Licence Price & Young People ..

Post by VK8NSB » Sun Jan 23, 2011 10:03 am

Ok about licence fees - Justified, Agree , I think the ACMA would leave us dry and high if we did not pay for the bands we use ... But surely the WIA can look at the expense of Exams, Just can't see how they justify $70 for a couple of pieces of paper mailed from Melbourne .. ? I have no problems with paying the $100 + to get my son / Daughter the Amateur Foundation licence but I know a couple of people up here that would make great Amateurs , and they are interested but just can't afford it, there parents can't afford it either , not everyone in the Amateur Radio field can afford what you and I take for granted ... I have actually started helping out up here, if I have to I will pay the exam / licence fees for some of these guys and help them get on air with equipment ..

just my thoughts .. sorry if I have upset you with my comments ..

73,s Stuie

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Re: Exam / Licence Price & Young People ..

Post by VK3GCP » Sun Jan 23, 2011 10:28 am

I for one have no problem with paying that much as I know that it is worth it. I just wish that in this day and age of the Internet that it wouldn't take so long to get the licence. When my brother got his, he filed the paperwork on the 24th of november, but the licence didn't come through until mid december..... :x :roll:

I think cost wise that it IS the cost of rigs that turn us youngsters off...

Example:

My setup is as follows (With the price in brackets)

Yaesu FT-7800 ($330, down from $450 as it was a discontinued model)
40m of Coax ($70 for RG213 x20m, $30 for RG58 x20m)
Diamond Mag-Mount antenna ($50)
2x 24AH Batteries and Charger (Batteries Nix for me, but retail at $300. Charger $20)
Various Anderson Connectors and Power Cable ($20)

As you can see, that is $520, or $820 if you include the batteries. That is a lot of pocket money for a simple Dual Band setup. Don't even get me started on the cost of HF..... :x :x :x
Even though I have a cheap ($100) handheld, that is of no use when I am at home, the pager noise is horrible, and the signal to the local repeaters is terrible.

I think that EchoLink helps to an extent, but even in melbourne, none of the major repeaters have an echolink node. I find this understandable for one that has some "Interferance" problems, but what about the other 7?

Just my $0.02
73,

Gerard de VK3FGCP
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Re: Exam / Licence Price & Young People ..

Post by VK2AAH » Sun Jan 23, 2011 10:55 am

Stuie, they can afford $70 if they want to afford it. I agree that $70 seems to me to be a bit steep for what is involved in holding an examination, but you have to keep this in context. This is a once off (hopefully) cost- for a lifetime. Driving tests or lessons, going to the movies- work out how much they cost & tell me that a once off $70 fee is unaffordable? My parents were, in economic terms, lower middle class. They had no money to pay for my radios- I managed tennis courts for pocket money. Most of us can tell these stories- I waited until I was a 1st year trainee technician to get my licence in 1981. My annual income was about $9500 a year- before tax. I chose to find the money to sit down at Macquarie University under the watchful gaze of the DOC to earn my licence. I'm pretty sure it was about $25 to sit the exam in those days. It is a personal choice of where people want to spend their hard earned. I don't want to turn this in to a poor imitation of the "My Family was So Poor" sketch but many of us had to save our dosh for the radio basics. I think it makes people appreciate what they have when it takes effort instead of just being handed on a plate. There is way too much of that going on these days...

Cheers,


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Re: Exam / Licence Price & Young People ..

Post by VK2ZRH » Sun Jan 23, 2011 11:14 am

Hi Stuie and all.

I guess it's a bit difficult to see from a distance (so to speak) where the costs arise in the Amateur licence examination and qualification system. :(

The WIA conducts this service under contract to the ACMA (literally, a contract with the Australian Government). This contract requires the WIA to meet set-down operational, performance and security requirements. Administratively, this can only be achieved by employing people to provide the required resources and coordinate the work of the army of learning facilitators and Commonwealth-qualified Assessors (volunteers !) who conduct the Amateur licence examinations.

To close the loop from learning to licensing, I quote from the WIA website:
The WIA produces Assessment packs for all three grades of licence, regulation, and practical assessments. These packs are then sent only to registered WIA Assessors for use in assessing candidates. After completion of an assessment, the assessor sends all of the contents of the assessment packs back to the WIA and the results are checked and registered. The WIA then produces a certificate which, on presentation to ACMA, will allow ACMA to issue an Amateur Operators Certificate of Proficiency and hence an Amateur Operators Licence.
Your Certificate of Proficiency is an official Australian Government document. The WIA is responsible for maintaining the integrity of the system that enables the Certificates to be issued.

An assessment pack sent out for an assessment event on a particular day is not the same as an assessment pack sent out to an assessment event on another day, to ensure candidates cannot "learn by rote" to pass an assessment.

I haven't gone into the nitty-gritty details (not that I could claim to know it intimately), but surely you can get some sense of the necessary administrative procedures and resources involved, and thus some justification for the charges levelled. It's not just "a couple of pieces of paper mailed from Melbourne . . ."

And remember: your Certificate of Proficiency is granted for life. :mrgreen:

Disclosure: I hold no elected or appointed office in the WIA. I'm "just a member".

73, Roger Harrison VK2ZRH

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Re: Exam / Licence Price & Young People ..

Post by VK2TDN » Sun Jan 23, 2011 7:31 pm

VK3ZFS wrote:ACMA did look at making, Amateur Licences, Class Licences, apply 1 time, then its for Life, no annual fees, like in the USA and UK, but the WIA chicked out, saying if we dont pay our way ACMA will not care about VK Hams!
They did that in New Zealand too, now amateurs over there have virtually lost all chances of fighting against intruders, keeping their privileges etc etc
its the worst thing that could have happened.

I NEVER EVER want to see that happen over here, Keep our licencing system as it is, it gives us a voice as long as we are paying for the privilege
I dont thank the WIA for much BUT thats one thing I am grateful for I agree with them totally
The USA is a bit different with an amateur population just under 700,000 and a very strong parent body they are a force to be reckoned with compared to our ~ 14,000 amateur population. Not to mention that Amateurs have a much better standing with government over there.

Dave
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Re: Exam / Licence Price & Young People ..

Post by VK2TDN » Sun Jan 23, 2011 7:39 pm

vk2aah wrote: big snip :)

It is a personal choice of where people want to spend their hard earned. I don't want to turn this in to a poor imitation of the "My Family was So Poor" sketch but many of us had to save our dosh for the radio basics. I think it makes people appreciate what they have when it takes effort instead of just being handed on a plate. There is way too much of that going on these days...
Cheers,
Richard
VK2AAH
agreed, many of us could tell the stories of our forray into the amateur radio scene, and the time it took to build up a decent station and handing back all the loan gear to original owners as we slowly saved up and bought our own gear.
I was on amateur radio for 25 yrs before I bought my first brand new radio ( the FT 897D) 5 yrs ago. It was always hand me downs before then. but as you say I appreciate the effort it has taken and I treasure what my licence cost me :)

Kids these days do want everything on a silver platter and they want it yesterday.... coupled with a 5 minute attention span :roll:

Dave
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Re: Exam / Licence Price & Young People ..

Post by VK2TDN » Sun Jan 23, 2011 8:00 pm

I think cost wise that it IS the cost of rigs that turn us youngsters off...
Example:
My setup is as follows (With the price in brackets)
Yaesu FT-7800 ($330, down from $450 as it was a discontinued model)
40m of Coax ($70 for RG213 x20m, $30 for RG58 x20m)
Diamond Mag-Mount antenna ($50)
2x 24AH Batteries and Charger (Batteries Nix for me, but retail at $300. Charger $20)
Various Anderson Connectors and Power Cable ($20)
As you can see, that is $520, or $820 if you include the batteries. That is a lot of pocket money for a simple Dual Band setup. Don't even get me started on the cost of HF.....
I refer you to my previous post ... it doesnt need to cost you that, be satisfied with something less than perfect till you can afford to upgrade
buy 2nd hand radio, buy good used coax and an antenna at a fieldday for a fraction of the price or get given some by a local helpful ham. Many of us are willing to help, if those that need help just sing out .... thats what we are here for :)
----------------------------------
Speaking of which.... some several months ago I commented about the many 9.1 (30ft) lengths of LMR400 low loss coax cable I have here. Over Xmas I added another 25 rolls to my collection. I did have one person in Sydney area respond but he didnt follow up and arrange a suitable time to pick up cable.

they are 9.1m long terminated with reverse TNC connectors... male on one end female on other.
It has a slightly larger inner conductor diameter than RG213 and therefore requires suitable N connectors ( can be obtained from the RF Shop in QLD and other places)
The centre conductor fits easily in to a PL259... great for HF radio or those VHF/UHF radios with SO239 connectors

A measured 3dB loss over 18m on 1296MHz... substantially less on 70cm and 2m, and hardly worth worrying about on HF

Anyone interested, Drop me an email or PM local pickup preferred

Dave
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Re: Exam / Licence Price & Young People ..

Post by VK6LD » Sun Jan 23, 2011 11:59 pm

Ahh, a topic that makes me boil! My two cents worth:

The WIA deflects all blame for the high exam fees to ACMA (http://www.wia.org.au/newsevents/news/2 ... /index.php). It's not their fault (apparently!).

In reality the WIA has been handed a monopoly and of course it has a vested interest to back anything ACMA says. ACMA would charge customers for the oxygen they breathe and the sweat they raise if they could.

The WIA's own Annual Reports show that since exam fees were raised significantly in 2009, yearly exam fee income has risen from circa $44,000 to over $70,000. (Then there is the callsign allocation fee monopoly on top of that!)

The reality is that the bulk of the work for exams is done by the clubs & individuals running courses & assessments with the WIA doing some paper shuffling in the process. The WIA load assessors up with their work - checking the WIA have sent the right forms & exam packs, filling out all their bureaucratic forms & processes, then frequently sending them back for a missed signature on a form or a photo that is 5mm too wide, plus copping complaints from candidates about poorly worded exam questions/answers, high exam fees and all the other hoops they make assessors jump through. The WIA even make assessors (or clubs/candidates) pay to Express Post assessments back to WIA National Office.

Despite all that extra income, the WIA still do very little to support the clubs & individuals that volunteer their own time & resources running courses & assessments - Suprise suprise none of that extra money now being generated has been channeled back to clubs/organisations or individuals doing courses & assessments.

It has only been in recent times that the WIA has offered to pay assessors petrol money for when they travel over 100km away from their home to do an assessment. Yee Har! The rest of it must go to buying tea & biscuits at the AGM's.

Cheers,

Rob...
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Last edited by VK6LD on Mon Feb 21, 2011 10:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Exam / Licence Price & Young People ..

Post by VK4TS » Mon Jan 24, 2011 7:01 am

The rest of it must go to buying tea & biscuits at the AGM's.
I have see an tendency of organisations to want to exist purely to have "annual conferences" -

Some I can think of had magnificent AGMs while the government introduced legislation that was totally against the wishes of the members - so if the true purpose of the WIA is to fund the AGM (in Darwin this year no doubt) should the constitution be changed to reflect the changes ?
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Re: Exam / Licence Price & Young People ..

Post by VK6LD » Mon Jan 24, 2011 9:31 am

My comment was "tongue in cheek" Trent.

Reading the Annual Report, a lot of the expenditure of the WIA is on AR magazine - not sure what is allocated on tea & biscuits! :roll:

My point being, is that I have yet to see any of the $70 per assessment flowing directly back to the clubs, organisations or individuals doing assessments.

The practical assessment taken by itself is an example where if it does "cost" the WIA $70 to process the assessment, then there are definitely some productivity gains needing to be made. Once again the assessor and club does the bulk of the work. If it takes any longer than 10 minutes to check the forms then I'd worry.

Cheers,

Rob...

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Re: Exam / Licence Price & Young People ..

Post by VK7AOB » Mon Jan 24, 2011 2:23 pm

Onya Rob VK6LD. I agree totally. Many know my thoughts about the WIA. It is not just the young that find the whole business expensive. Pensioners are in the same situation. The cost to be a member of WIA. The cost for the exam. The cost for a callsign recommendation to ACMA and then the cost for the licence and its renewals. All of that isn't even taking the cost of equipment into account. All of this for a hobby and I must admit, an enjoyable one.
WIA non member, Wayne.

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