ARRL

ARRL General Bulletin ARLB007 (2004)

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ARLB007 FCC invites comments on Amateur Radio restructuring plans

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ARRL Bulletin 7  ARLB007
From ARRL Headquarters  
Newington CT  March 24, 2004
To all radio amateurs 

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ARLB007 FCC invites comments on Amateur Radio restructuring plans

The FCC is seeking comment on three plans, one from the ARRL, that
would reshape the Amateur Service licensing structure. Each Petition
for Rule Making responds to World Radiocommunication Conference 2003
actions last summer that made changes to Article 25 of the
international Radio Regulations. While differing substantially in
some other aspects, the three petitions call for modifications at
Amateur Radio's entry level and for a three-tiered license system.
One petition goes beyond licensing structure to recommend additional
changes to amateur testing and HF digital privileges. A fourth
petition focuses solely on the Morse requirement. Comments are due
by April 24 on all four petitions.

Designated RM-10867, ARRL's petition asks the FCC to create a new
entry-level license class--being called ''Novice'' for now. It would
offer limited HF CW/data and phone/image privileges on 80, 40, 15
and 10 meters plus certain VHF and UHF privileges. The League plan
also would consolidate Technician, Tech Plus (Technician with
Element 1 credit) and General licensees into a new General license
that no longer would require a Morse examination. Current
Technicians automatically would gain General privileges without
additional testing. Applicants for Amateur Extra would still have to
pass a 5 WPM Morse code examination, but the General and Extra
written exams would stay the same.

A news report ''ARRL to Propose New Entry-Level License, Code-Free HF
Access,'' www.arrl.org/news/stories/2004/01/19/1/, has further
details. Frequently asked questions (FAQs) are addressed on the ARRL
Web site, www.arrl.org/news/restructuring2/faq.html.

An ''unincorporated grassroots organization,'' the Radio Amateur
Foundation (RAF), has filed a petition designated as RM-10868. Its
wide-ranging filing asks the FCC to modify the Technician ticket to
allow restricted HF phone, data, image and CW privileges. The group
also proposes retaining the 5 WPM Morse requirement for General and
Amateur Extra applicants, upgrading Advanced class holders to Extra
and all Novices to Technician. The Radio Amateur Foundation said it
sees no need to change licensing requirements for General or Amateur
Extra applicants.

The RAF also wants to scrap existing Amateur Radio question pools
and start over from scratch, keeping the question pools out of the
public domain and requiring a 10-day waiting period before
retesting. In addition, it would permit only Generals and Amateur
Extras or Technicians licensed more than two years to request vanity
call signs.

The RAF has further asked the FCC to permit digital experimentation
from 29.0 to 29.3 MHz at bandwidths of up to 15 kHz.

In his two-page petition designated RM-10869, Ronald D. Lowrance,
K4SX, calls on the FCC to retain the 5 WPM Morse code requirement
for General class applicants and to raise the Morse requirement to
13 WPM for Amateur Extra class applicants. He called Morse code ''the
most reliable mode of communication'' in an emergency. Lowrance would
make no change in Technician licensing requirements.

The National Conference of Volunteer Examiner Coordinators (NCVEC)
wants the FCC to establish a new entry-level license called the
Communicator class. Its petition, designated RM-10870, reiterates
its call--first made last fall in RM-10787--to altogether eliminate
the Morse code testing requirement.

The NCVEC's petition would upgrade all current Novices to
Communicator class. The NCVEC would further upgrade all existing
Technician and Tech Plus (Technician with Element 1 credit)
licensees to General and all Advanced class licensees to Amateur
Extra without further testing. Once the Morse requirement goes away,
NCVEC said in its filing, ''there will be no effective difference
between the Technician and General class licenses.''

The new Communicator ticket would permit a power limit of 100 W on
bands below 24 MHz and 50 W on all frequencies above 24 MHz.
Communicator licensees would have to use commercially manufactured
equipment (or gear built from a commercial kit). They could operate
both voice and digital modes on 80, 40, 15 and 10 meters plus VHF
and UHF up to 70 cm.

All three license restructuring plans call for changes to the
present HF subbands.

Interested parties may view and comment on these petitions via the
FCC Electronic Comment Filing System, www.fcc.gov/e-file/ecfs.html.
When entering the RM number in the ECFS ''Proceeding'' field, RM must
be in capital letters and the hyphen must be included.
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