[amsat-bb] LOTW & VUCC Discussion

John Papay john at papays.com
Tue Jan 25 12:31:36 PST 2011

We now know more about the VUCC fee changes than
we did when the discussion started thanks to comments
by Bill Moore and others.  As someone stated, the
sticker shock has everyone upset.  If the costs of
the VUCC program justify what is being charged, there's
not much you can do about it unless you find someone in
addition to Yaesu to sponsor the program.  The money has
to come from somewhere.  As Americans, we are painfully
aware of what happens when you spend more than you take in.

The League should have been adjusting rates over the years.
The Post Office, our government and businesses all do this
gradually to avoid a rebellion.  If this had been done, we
wouldn't be having such a big outcry right now.

I think the other problem with how this was done involved
notification.  Announcing that effective today, the cost for
VUCC submissions is going up drastically, was not a good
move.  Rolling out the costs for LOTW VUCC submissions is
one thing, but including the traditional filing rates as part
of it without publishing an "effective date" ahead of time is
another matter.  It wasn't well thought out.

Now that it is done, how do we proceed from here?  I think there
are two main issues that can be looked at by the Directors.  They
control what happens at the League.  My Director has been very
responsive to things that I have brought to him.  I hope your
Director is equally as responsive.  Just make sure that when
writing to them that you don't rant.  State the facts and be
specific as to what you want them to do.

The first thing they should look at is the cost of the VUCC
program.  Bill Moore has suggested that they don't even break
even considering everything involved.  Ask your Director to get
the numbers and validate the claim.  Any evaluation should include
monies derived from the website.  Yaesu sponsors LOTW but it is
unclear as to what extent they do. There may be other sources of
funding as well.

As a subset of the cost, ask your Director to find out why hybird
applications are part of the DXCC LOTW program but are not provided
for in the VUCC program.  After all, it's the same system.  I would
expect that we will always be submitting some cards along with LOTW
matches.  Most of the cost of a paper submission is subsidized by the
card checkers.  It takes a lot of time to scrutinize a card to find
the Grid.  After the initial application, only the Grid numbers are
sent to the ARRL.  A typist can enter 4 character grids into a computer
very quickly.  Callsigns, date, time, band, etc. are not entered for
VUCC.  If you send your cards to the ARRL and a paid employee has to
go through the cards, the cost is significantly higher than if a volunteer
does it.  Hybrid applications for a single filing fee should be part of
VUCC as they are now for DXCC.

The ARRL Membership was not given a warning about the fee increases.
Establishing the fees for LOTW VUCC is one thing.  Increasing the
fees for paper submissions should have had an effective date into the
future.  This would allow those who were on the verge of filing the
opportunity to do so at the current rate.  Ask your Director to have
the old paper fees reinstated until say, May 1st.  This will give the
applicants and the volunteer card checkers some time to process everything.
If the new fees are found to be reasonable they go into effect after that

I have been licensed for 50 years and prior to getting my license I was
involved with ham radio for more than 10 years.  I attended many club
meetings with my older cousin.  The topic of dissatisfaction with the
ARRL was always a big deal.  The hams talked about it all the time.  But
if you think that we would be where we are now with Ham Radio if the
ARRL had not been there representing our interests, you are sadly mistaken.

Radio spectrum is always in demand.  You can't make more of it.  You can
digitize and process till you are blue in the face but there is never
enough spectrum.  Cellphones sound lousy because they don't have enough
bandwidth.  But we put up with it because they are portable and there is
no other choice given the number of users.  If the ARRL had not been there
for us, we would all be on 80 meters.  The League is our voice.  If you don't
like what they are doing, contact your Director or run for the position
yourself.  Ham Radio is a hobby but there are costs involved. You can choose
what you want to spend.  No one is forcing you.  But do consider that we need
the ARRL to preserve ham radio into the future.  It takes money to run the
organization and we are up against others who have very deep pockets.
Supporting the ARRL makes good sense as does supporting AMSAT.
They are our advocates.

John K8YSE

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