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ARRL General Bulletin ARLB090 (1998)

ARLB090 ARRL Board reaffirms, modifies its restructuring proposal

QST de W1AW  
ARRL Bulletin 90  ARLB090
From ARRL Headquarters  
Newington CT  October 26, 1998
To all radio amateurs 

ARLB090 ARRL Board reaffirms, modifies its restructuring proposal

In a special meeting October 24, the ARRL Board of Directors
unanimously reaffirmed the bulk of its July 1998 Amateur Radio
License Restructuring plan with some modifications. Among other
things, the Board's July plan would eliminate the Novice and Tech
Plus license classes. To provide a logical entry path to HF for
Technicians, the Board now has suggested offering CW privileges to
Technicians in the current General CW allocations on 80 through 10
meters. Technicians would be permitted up to 200 W PEP.

The Board also agreed to replace the A, B, C, and D license class
designations proposed in its July restructuring plan with the names
Extra, Advanced, General, and Technician.

''The July plan eliminated the HF door by eliminating the Novice
license,'' observed ARRL Executive Vice President David Sumner, K1ZZ.
''This is, in effect, a replacement for the Novice, but without an
additional license class.''

Under the July plan--and under the FCC's proposed streamlining--the
entry-level HF license would be the General, which under the ARRL
plan would require passing two written examinations plus a 5 WPM
code test. Board members at the October 24 meeting near St Louis
expressed concern that the leap to HF privileges under the July plan
could prove too daunting, especially for younger newcomers. Some
also were troubled about the growing gulf between the ''traditional''
HF operator and the newer VHF-only amateurs.

Addressing the Morse code requirement in the International Radio
Regulations, Sumner summed up the Board's position by saying that
the new privileges would amount to self-testing. ''By their very
nature, you can't use the privileges until you know the code,'' he
said. ''We're not expecting the CW bands to be overrun with people
taking advantage of this, but as any CW operator knows, the best way
to become proficient in the code is to use it on the air.''

The special ARRL Board meeting was called to consider the League's
comments on the FCC's amateur licensing ''streamlining'' proposals in
WT Docket 98-143, released in August. Comments are due on the FCC's
rulemaking proposal on December 1. During the daylong session, the
Board also proposed that the FCC rules ban multiple-choice Morse
code tests and establish that a passing grade for a code test be
either 70 per cent correct answers to 10 fill-in-the-blank questions
or one minute out of five of solid copy.

The Board affirmed its proposals in RM-9196 to improve the
procedures for granting Morse code exam credit on the basis of a
physician's certification of a disability. It also affirmed ''its
strong desire'' that written exams be modified as necessary ''to
demonstrate better the depth of the applicant's current radio
technical knowledge and operating skill.''

The Board also supported retention of the topic definitions to be
included in written exams, as contained in Section 97.503 of the
rules, with some modification to accommodate the new four-class
structure. Under the proposed testing regime, the Technician exam
would include 35 questions. Technician applicants must now pass both
the 35-question Novice examination plus the current 30-question
Technician test. Applicants for General would have to pass a
35-question test--up from the current 30 questions to include
additional questions on operating practices. The Advanced exam would
go from 50 questions to 40 under the proposal, while the Extra exam
would go from 40 to 50 questions, including more highly technical
subject matter.

The Board also reaffirmed its desire that Advanced class volunteer
examiners be permitted to administer General class exams, and it
renewed its request in RM-9115 for several rules changes involving
RACES stations.

The Board noted that it had ''heard and considered the views of
thousands of ARRL members'' on the amateur licensing issues raised in
both the ARRL and FCC proposals.


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