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ARRL General Bulletin ARLB059 (1999)

ARLB059 No word yet on restructuring

QST de W1AW  
ARRL Bulletin 59  ARLB059
From ARRL Headquarters  
Newington CT  August 31, 1999
To all radio amateurs 

ARLB059 No word yet on restructuring

An FCC staff member says the Commission staff is ''diligently
working'' towards getting a Report and Order on Amateur Radio
license restructuring out the door. But beyond that, the FCC
staffer--who did not want to be identified by name--said it was
impossible to predict when that would happen. He said FCC rules
prevent him from revealing any information about ''internal thinking
or scheduling'' regarding the proceeding, known formally as the 1998
Biennial Regulatory Review of Part 97 (WT Docket 98-143).

The FCC's move last spring into consolidated offices at The Portals
also disrupted routine work flow.

A year ago, the FCC proposed phasing out the Novice and Technician
Plus licenses, leaving Technician, General, Advanced, and Extra in
place. The FCC also asked the amateur community to express its
opinions on Morse code requirements for licensing and testing, but
offered no recommendations.

The previous month, the ARRL Board of Directors issued its own plan
to restyle Amateur Radio. Among other details, the ARRL plan also
called for four license classes and for ''refarming'' Novice/Tech
Plus subbands to provide additional phone spectrum for higher-class
operators. Under the League plan, the Technician license would
remain unchanged, and the General would become the entry-level
ticket for those interested in HF operation. The ARRL proposed Morse
code requirements of 5 WPM for General and 12 WPM for Advanced and
Extra class.

''We are simply in that period of time when no information is
available,'' the FCC staff member said. ''This is a normal part of
the Commission's quasi-judicial decision-making process and a
necessary part of being objective and fair to all.''

Before the long-awaited Report and Order sees the light of day, the
Wireless Telecommunications Bureau staff first must digest the 2200
comments, filed mostly by individuals. Then, the staff will
circulate its recommendation to the Commissioners. Commissioners and
their staff will mull the WTB input and arrive at a plan.

The ultimate FCC decision will come either at the Commission's
monthly meeting or it will be handled ''on circulation''--outside of
an actual meeting. A Public Notice will be issued, and the actual
Report and Order will follow.

The bottom line is that Amateur Radio operators will have to wait a
few weeks or a few months longer before the restructuring issue is


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