This is admittedly more than two years old, but I think it bears repeating IMO...
I've been thinking of doing a Ham Radio-oriented
Blog for sometime now, but haven't really had much to say. In fact,
I've been so busy with Non-Ham related issues that I've kinda been out
of touch when it came to Ham Radio news. That is until I got this
piece of WONDERFUL piece of news.
What you see below is the text of an actual ARRL Proposal which I hope
becomes a reality someday soon. :-)
ARRL to Propose New Entry-Level License, Code-Free HF Access
NEWINGTON, CT, Jan 19, 2004--The ARRL will ask the FCC to create a new
entry-level Amateur Radio license that would include HF phone privileges
without requiring a Morse code test. The League also will propose consolidating
all current licensees into three classes, retaining the Element 1 Morse
requirement--now 5 WPM--only for the highest class. The ARRL Board of Directors
overwhelmingly approved the plan January 16 during its Annual Meeting in
Windsor, Connecticut. The proposals--developed by the ARRL Executive Committee
following a Board instruction last July--are in response to changes made
in Article 25 of the international Radio Regulations at World Radiocommunication
Conference 2003 (WRC-03). They would continue a process of streamlining
the amateur licensing structure that the FCC began more than five years
ago but left unfinished in the Amateur Service license restructuring Report
and Order (WT 98-143) that went into effect April 15, 2000.
"Change in the Amateur Radio Service in the US, especially license requirements
and even more so when Morse is involved, has always been emotional," said
ARRL First Vice President Joel Harrison, W5ZN, in presenting the Executive
Committee's recommendations. "In fact, without a doubt, Morse is Amateur
Radio's 'religious debate.'" The plan adopted by the Board departs only
slightly from the Executive Committee's recommendations.
The "New" Novice
The entry-level license class--being called "Novice" for now--would
require a 25-question written exam. It would offer limited HF CW/data and
phone/image privileges on 80, 40, 15 and 10 meters as well as VHF and UHF
privileges on 6 and 2 meters and on 222-225 and 430-450 MHz. Power output
would be restricted to 100 W on 80, 40, and 15 meters and to 50 W on 10
meters and up, thus avoiding the need for the more complex RF safety questions
in the Novice question pool.
"The Board sought to achieve balance in giving new Novice licensees
the opportunity to sample a wider range of Amateur Radio activity than
is available to current Technicians while retaining a motivation to upgrade,"
said ARRL CEO David Sumner, K1ZZ. "It was also seen as important to limit
the scope of privileges so the exam would not have to include material
that is inappropriate at the entry level."
As an introduction to Amateur Radio, the Novice license served successfully
for most of its 50-year history. The FCC has not issued new Novice licenses
since the 2000 license restructuring, however. Under the ARRL plan, current
Novice licensees--now the smallest and least active group of radio amateurs--would
be grandfathered to the new entry-level class without further testing.
Anticipating assertions that the new plan would "dumb down" Amateur
Radio licensing, Harrison said those currently holding a ticket often perceive
the level of complexity to have been greater when they were first licensed
than it actually was. "Quite frankly," he said, "if you review the questions
presented in our license manuals throughout the years, you will be surprised
how they compare to those of today."
Technicians and Generals
The middle group of licensees--Technician, Tech Plus (Technician with
Element 1 credit) and General--would be consolidated into a new General
license that no longer would require a Morse examination. Current Technician
and Tech Plus license holders automatically would gain current General
class privileges without additional testing. The current Element 3 General
examination would remain in place for new applicants. ARRL already has
proposed additional phone privileges for Generals in its "Novice refarming"
petition, RM-10413, but the FCC has not yet acted on that petition.
Morse Code Testing Retained for Extra
At the top rung, the Board indicated that it saw no compelling reason
to change the Amateur Extra class license requirements. The ARRL plan calls
on the FCC to combine the current Advanced and Amateur Extra class licensees
into Amateur Extra, because the technical level of the exams passed by
these licensees is very similar. New applicants for Extra would have to
pass a 5 WPM Morse code examination, but the written exam would stay the
same. The League's plan calls for current Novice, Tech Plus and General
class licensees to receive lifetime Element 1 (5 WPM Morse) credit.
"This structure provides a true entry-level license with HF privileges
to promote growth in the Amateur Service," Harrison said. "It also simplifies
the FCC database by conforming to the current Universal Licensing System
(ULS) structure and does not mandate any modifications to it."
Sumner concurred. "The Board started out by recognizing that three
license classes was the right number when looking down the road 10 or 15
years," he said. "We need a new entry-level license."
"On the other hand, there's nothing particularly wrong with the existing
Extra class license," he continued. "The change in the international regulations
notwithstanding, the Board felt that the highest level of accomplishment
in the FCC's amateur licensing structure should include basic Morse capability."
Sumner and Harrison say the current Technician entry-level ticket provides
little opportunity to experience facets of ham radio beyond repeater operation.
"The quality of that experience," Sumner said, "often depends on the operator's
Among other advantages, Sumner said the plan would allow new Novices
to participate in HF SSB emergency nets on 75 and 40 meters as well as
on the top 100 kHz of 15 meters. The new license also could get another
name, Sumner said. "We're trying to recapture the magic of the old Novice
license, but in a manner that's appropriate for the 21st century."
Proposal Includes "Novice Refarming" Band Plan
The overall proposed ARRL license restructuring plan would more smoothly
integrate HF spectrum privileges across the three license classes and would
incorporate the "Novice refarming" plan the League put forth nearly two
years ago in a Petition for Rule Making (RM-10413). The FCC has not yet
acted on the ARRL plan, which would alter the current HF subbands. The
Novice refarming proposal would eliminate the 80, 40 and 15-meter Novice/Technician
Plus CW subbands as such and reuse that spectrum in part to expand phone/image
subbands on 80 and 40 meters.
The ARRL license restructuring design calls for no changes in privileges
for Extra and General class licensees on 160, 60, 30, 20, 17 or 12 meters.
Novice licensees would have no access to those bands.
Proposed Phone/Image HF Subbands (Includes Novice Refarming Proposal)
Extra: 3.725-4.000 MHz (gain of 25 kHz)
General: 3.800-4.000 MHz (gain of 50 kHz)
Novice: 3.900-4.000 MHz (new)
Extra: 7.125-7.300 MHz (gain of 25 kHz)
General: 7.175-7.300 MHz (gain of 50 kHz)
Novice: 7.200-7.300 MHz (new)
Extra: 21.200-21.450 MHz (no change)
General: 21.275-21.450 MHz (gain of 25 kHz)
Novice: 21.350-21.450 MHz (new)
Extra and General: 28.300-29.700 MHz (no change)
Novice: 28.300-28.500 MHz (no change)
Proposed CW/Data-Exclusive HF Subbands (Includes Novice Refarming Proposal)
Extra: 3.500-3.725 MHz
General: 3.525-3.725 MHz
Novice: 3.550-3.700 MHz
Extra: 7.000-7.125 MHz
General: 7.025-7.125 MHz
Novice: 7.050-7.125 MHz
Extra: 21.000-21.200 MHz
General: 21.025-21.200 MHz
Novice: 21.050-21.200 MHz
Extra/General: 28.000-28.300 MHz
Novice: 28.050-28.300 MHz
Isn't this WONDERFUL news? Now I admit therre's a little give
and take (I would've liked to see 20 Meters added to the Technician portion,
but hey we'll still get 40 to play around with :-)). Plus,
for those of us who took the Novice written way back when it was required
to do so, we No-Code Techs would also get ANY Novice voice privleges as
well (unless I mis-read the thing).
Not a bad topic for the firrst entry in the ALL NEW KB0OXD Cybershack
HamBlog if I say so myself. :-)
What do YOU think?
Cheers for now & 73 :-)
Pat Cook, KB0OXD