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ARRL General Bulletin ARLB003 (2006)

ARLB003 FCC noncommittal on "Morse code" proceeding

QST de W1AW  
ARRL Bulletin 3  ARLB003
From ARRL Headquarters  
Newington CT  February 14, 2006
To all radio amateurs 

ARLB003 FCC noncommittal on ''Morse code'' proceeding

Just when the FCC will act on the ''Morse code'' proceeding, WT Docket
05-235, remains hazy. The Commission released a Notice of Proposed
Rule Making and Order (NPRM&O) last July proposing to eliminate the
Element 1 (5 WPM) Morse code requirement for all license classes.
The Amateur Radio community filed more than 3800 comments on the
proceeding, and additional comments continue to show up, even though
the formal comment deadline was last fall. The next--and
most-anticipated--step for the Commission is to formally adopt any
revisions to its rules and conclude the proceeding with a Report and
Order (R&O) that spells out the changes and specifies their
effective date.

''There really is no news,'' an FCC Wireless Telecommunications Bureau
(WTB) staffer told ARRL this week on background. ''We certainly hope
to release WT Docket 05-235 sometime this year, but we're not making
any predictions at this time.'' The WTB staffer indicated there would
be no ''big announcements'' at the Dayton Hamvention FCC Forum either.

Beyond eliminating the Morse requirement, the FCC declined in its
NPRM&O to go forward with any other suggested changes to Amateur
Service licensing rules or operating privileges.

The proceeding began with 18 petitions for rule making--many just
calling for the elimination of the Morse requirement but some asking
for more far-reaching changes in the Amateur Service rules. The
various petitions attracted a total of some 6200 comments. The FCC
subsequently consolidated the petitions--including one from the ARRL
asking the FCC to establish a new entry-level license class and to
retain the Morse requirement for Amateur Extra class
applicants--into a single proceeding designated WT 05-235.

Worth noting is that the FCC did not propose in WT 05-235 to extend
HF privileges to current Technician licensees who have not passed a
Morse code examination. In its NPRM&O the FCC suggested that in a
no-Morse-requirement regime, such ''codeless Techs'' would be able to
gain HF access by taking the Element 3 General class written

Before it releases an R&O on the Morse code proceeding, however, the
WTB wants to wrap up action in another Amateur Radio-related
docket--the ''Phone Band Expansion'' (or ''Omnibus'') NPRM in WT Docket
04-140, released last April 15. A dozen petitions for rulemaking,
some dating back to 2001, were consolidated in the Omnibus
proceeding. In that NPRM, the Commission proposed to go along with
the ARRL's Novice refarming plan aimed at reallocating the current
Novice/Tech Plus subbands to expand portions of the 80, 40 and 15
meter phone bands. The FCC also agreed with an ARRL proposal to
extend privileges in the current General CW-only HF subbands to
present Novice and Tech Plus licensees (or Technicians with Element
1 credit).

Any FCC decision to eliminate the 5 WPM Morse code requirement for
HF access would have no impact on either the current HF CW-only
subbands or on the CW privileges of Amateur Radio licensees. The
Morse code proceeding neither put forward nor recommended any
changes in CW allocations or privileges.


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