ARRL General Bulletin ARLB005 (1997)

ARLB005 ARRL members asked to comment

ARRL Bulletin 5  ARLB005
From ARRL Headquarters
Newington CT  January 31, 1997
To all radio amateurs

ARLB005 ARRL members asked to comment

ARRL members are being invited to add their ideas, comments and
recommendations to those of the ARRL WRC-99 Planning Committee, which
has suggested sweeping--and potentially controversial--changes to the
Amateur Radio licensing structure in the US. On the table for open
discussion and debate are proposals that include:

 elimination of the Novice license
 creation of a new Intermediate license to replace the Technician Plus
 greater hf privileges for intermediate licensees than for the
existing technician plus, including phone on 160, 75 and 15 meters
 a 10-wpm General CW test (with more stringent testing standards for
all CW exams)
 expanded phone privileges for General-class and higher licensees

Details of the plan, discussed during the recent ARRL Board of
Directors meeting in Albuquerque, New Mexico, will appear in March
QST. The Board says it seeks comments from members to ensure that
before any plan goes forward, it enjoys broad support from the
amateur community. The Board will not act on the issue at least until
its July meeting.

After its research revealed that as many as three Novices in four are
inactive, the committee concluded that the Novice license is no
longer useful. Although the committee would end the Novice license,
its plan provides current Novices with an easy means to upgrade (via
an open-book test) to the new Intermediate class license, which would
replace the current Technician Plus. All present Tech Plus licensees
would become Intermediate licensees. The Basic license would supplant
the Technician license--now the hobby's most-popular entry-level
ticket--with no changes in privileges. In addition, the committee's
plan would phase out the current Novice and Tech Plus bands on 80, 40
and 15 meters, and replace them with new Intermediate-class
allocations. The committee's consensus plan for Intermediate-class
licensees calls for new CW bands on 80, 40 and 15 meters starting 25
kHz up from the lower band edge, digital and phone-band privileges on
75 and 15 meters and a 50-kHz phone or CW segment at the top end of
160 meters, plus expanded Novice and Tech Plus CW and phone
allocations on 10 meters.

According to the proposal, Intermediate CW bands would be 3525 to
3700 kHz, 7025 to 7050 kHz, 21025 to 21150 kHz and 28050 to 28300
kHz. Digital operation was suggested for 3600 to 3625, 21100 to 21125
and 28100 to 28189 kHz. Phone privileges would include 1950 to 2000,
3900 to 4000, 21350 to 21450, SSB from 28300 to 28500 and FM from
29500 to 29700 kHz. Transmitter power for Intermediate-class
licensees would be limited to 200 W PEP output (other licensees using
these bands would not be limited to 200 W, however).

General-class and higher amateurs also would benefit from the plan,
if it's adopted according to the committee's outlines. General-class
hams would get additional phone privileges 3800 to 3850, 7200 to
7225, and 21250 to 21300 kHz; Advanced-class hams would add 3725 to
3775, 7125 to 7150 and 21175 to 21225 kHz; Extra-class hams would
also have 3700 to 3750, 7125 to 7150 and 21150 to 21200 kHz.

With the exception of 40 meters, where Novice and Tech Plus licensees
already have privileges, the committee suggested no changes on the
hobby's narrowest and most crowded bands--including 20 meters and the
narrow WARC bands at 30, 17 and 12 meters.

The Intermediate CW test would be 5 words per minute (the same as the
current Tech Plus requirement), but the committee proposed that the
General class CW requirement be set at 10 wpm. There still would be
no additional CW exam for the Advanced ticket, nor would there be any
change in the 20-wpm requirement for the Extra. Exams for all classes
would include a return to a sending test and the requirement for one
minute of solid copy during a five-minute test--instead of the
current method that tests on the content of the CW text.

Right now, these major changes are only in the talking stage. ''Let us
be very clear about this,'' said ARRL Executive Vice President David
Sumner, K1ZZ, who characterized the committee's proposals as a
starting point for discussion, not a done deal. ''The changes are not
ARRL policy; nothing has been proposed to, or by, the FCC, and the
ARRL Board is committed to making no decision before its July 1997
meeting.'' Sumner said there is no timetable to complete the process.
Only after there is an opportunity for in-depth consideration and
discussion by the membership will the ARRL Board consider taking the
next step--to approach the FCC with a rulemaking proposal--a process
that automatically invites additional comments and suggestions.

Between the time they receive March QST and the end of May, members
are asked to voice their opinions on the committee's suggestions to
their directors, whose postal and e-mail addresses are listed on page
10 of QST. All suggestions and comments--positive and negative--are