ARRL Entry Level License Committee Report July 2017

Discussion in 'Ham Radio Discussions' started by NN4RH, Aug 2, 2017.

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  1. AC0GT

    AC0GT Ham Member QRZ Page

    That 50,000 is just those exposed by deprecated licenses to not having upgraded in roughly 20 years. How many General and Technician licenses have been "learning" for this long and not bothering to upgrade? I'd say easily double or triple that number. Point is that incentive licensing as it is now has not been very successful. It's probably about time to create a new incentive or get rid of it.
  2. AC0GT

    AC0GT Ham Member QRZ Page

    Perhaps I'm not using the right words here. I'm talking about the arbitrary limits on where Novice/Technician, General, and Advanced licenses can operate on HF. If Technicians have sufficient training to operate on some small sliver of 10 meters then they have sufficient training to operate on the entirety of the band.

    I know the FCC and the amateur radio community is reluctant (to put it mildly) to give new operating privileges to existing licensees without having taken testing. One way, and perhaps the only politically possible way, is to effectively start over. But it wouldn't be a complete restart, Extra is "at the top" and I see no reason to change that, and I'm sure many people, and the FCC, would agree.

    I do think the ARRL is going in the right direction on creating a new license. The problem I see is that they are stuck in the "entry", "beginner", and "incentive" rut. I remember the "Communicator" class license brought up long ago and mentioned a few times in this thread. Let's go with that, create a license for people interested in providing emergency communications, talking across the world, and leave enough freedom for some experimentation. Leave things like high power (meaning more than 50, 100, 200 watts, somewhere in there), repeater construction, VE testing, and such to people with a license with more testing.
    K7JEM likes this.
  3. AC0GT

    AC0GT Ham Member QRZ Page

    From the FCC. The FCC originally denied HF privileges to Technicians in one of their orders based on the claim that Technicians were not tested on it. Only those that had those privileges before, the unofficially official "Tech Plus" class, got to do so. They reversed that decision later based on the difficulty of enforcement. I tested for General at the same time as a friend of mine tested for Technician. I saw no questions on HF when I looked at his study guide. I'm pretty sure one of the questions in the pool made it clear that Technicians could not operate below 30MHz.
  4. K0RGR

    K0RGR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    The Tech license was always an artificial construct meant to get around the 13 WPM code test. At the time of it's adoption, a 5 WPM code test was somewhat radical, and 5 WPM was not considered to be a sufficient hurdle. The ITU required Morse Code 'proficiency' for HF operation, and 5 WPM was not considered 'proficient'. Even though the Morse requirement is long gone, we're still stuck with this artificial structure. And once again, when the General test was split into two to create a new no-code exam, the division between the two was not clean. It is truly a distinction without a real difference.

    I think the basic need, which is fully recognized at the international level, is for an entry level license that grants a broad variety of amateur privileges, in particular, HF privileges. Go read the ITU/CEPT recommendation for an entry level 'Novice' license - it states this very clearly. However, you must also read what CEPT considers our licenses to be equivalent to. Our General is considered equivalent to their Novice. Our Advanced and Extra are equivalent to their 'full' license. The Technician is not recognized at all. Oddly enough, when the Tech had a code requirement, it was considered to be a 'full' license. So what's really driving that ranking?

    So, there is another argument for making the General the entry license. But making it that way would still not be consistent with the CEPT standard. Our Generals enjoy privileges far beyond the entry level - I don't see any CEPT countries granting Novices more than 100 watts on HF.
    Therefore, trying to harmonize our license structure with theirs is really difficult.

    In any case, having a two-step process to get to HF is not as desirable as a one step process, and the two approaches are definitely not the same thing. Merging the Tech and General and making the General the entry license would be better, in my opinion, than what we have today. But, I don't think it would be as good as simply giving the Techs some very limited HF privileges that they can actually use. The first approach might fix the problem over time, and would be more consistent with history. The second approach might help us retain or reclaim the vast number of Techs who have or shortly will drop out. Either would probably be good, but I think enhancing the Tech is better.
    K7JEM likes this.
  5. K0IDT

    K0IDT Ham Member QRZ Page

    Has any thought been given to asking the Techs what would get them to use HF? How about asking why they don't upgrade? Perhaps a question of why they
    got licensed in the first place and what did they expect, "emergency communicator" comes to mind and maybe they're happy in that role with a Tech ticket.

    Put up a poll somewhere and make the comments publicly accessible. That's more than the league has done at this point. We can start right here in this thread.

    Question: how many Techs have commented in this thread?
    KK5JY likes this.
  6. KB1PA

    KB1PA Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    That information is needed before any action can be recommended.

    I would like to see limited HF segments for tech on HF voice and Data. I know this will lead to many stomping their feet and holding their breath until their faces turn blue. This "new" license can be called Foundation, because it will serve as a learners permit license. It will fit in to the FCC 3 tier plan. I haven't decided if this license would only be good for 3 years or not. I think it might be a good idea.
    If you don't learn enough in 3 years to upgrade to General then your license is voided.
    and if you were a previously licensed foundation ham that doesn't upgrade, you cannot get another foundation license for 5 years.

    10 years for a beginning level license is way too long.
  7. AC0GT

    AC0GT Ham Member QRZ Page

    Isn't it obvious? Inertia. I suspect no one has bothered to come back to "clean up" the international amateur radio licensing since they made Morse code testing "optional". Even the fact they had to mention Morse code testing as an option is evidence of a need for an update. Of course Morse code testing is optional, as is any testing above and beyond international requirements.

    It may be difficult politically but creating a license that is harmonized with the rest of the world should be pretty easy if we could get past this idea of "incentive licensing" which seems to be rather unique to the US. If we want harmony internationally then we need to do away with the way the FCC slices up the HF bands and hands them out like candy to children for cleaning their room and eating everything off their plate.

    I have another question, how many Technicians are members of this forum and have commented any where? There seems to be an echo in here much too often.
  8. SM0AOM

    SM0AOM Ham Member QRZ Page

    Since the international aspect has come up, which I have researched extensively, I would like to add this:

    The previous recognition of both the Technician and General licences for CEPT HAREC or "full" privileges came from the earliest blanket acceptance of the US licence structure.

    Part of this was that many European countries had a dividing line between novice and full licences that was the Morse test, even if the theory exams were the same. National licences that had very easy theory exam requirements, but have had some form of Morse test were "grandfathered" into "Full licence" status which was clearly against the intentions of the CEPT system..

    When the actual level of qualifications were re-evaluated, on German initiative, it was deemed that the General was the lowest licence class that corresponded to any of the levels required in the harmonised CEPT system.

    Some European countries still issue national licences that have similar or lower requirements as the Technician, but they are not recognised in the CEPT system either.

    The most proper applications of the intentions behind the CEPT HAREC system can be found in the German and French examination regimes, which make the Extra seem quite elementary.

  9. N2EY

    N2EY XML Subscriber QRZ Page


    I think you've got the history confused there....

    The treaty which used to require Morse Code skill never required "proficiency". All it said was that all amateur license tests had to have tests which showed that the licensee could "send by hand and receive by ear, messages in Morse Code". The details of the testing were left up to the countries involved. The basic treaty was signed in 1927.

    In the USA, the code test speed before WW1 was 5 wpm. After the war, it was raised to 10 wpm and stayed that way until 1936, when it was raised to 13 wpm.

    Before WW2, everything above 300 MHz was essentially unregulated, at least by treaty. Everything above 30 MHz was "the ultrahighs". The radars used in the early part of WW2 operated at VHF.

    During the war, VHF/UHF/microwave technology grew by leaps and bounds - so much so that in just a few years the Allies were mass-producing airborne radars that worked at 100 times the frequencies used in the Battle of Britain and at Pearl Harbor. From about 100 MHz to over 10 GHz. After the war, TV was The New Thing, no longer an experiment, plus FM broadcasting was moved, land mobile and marine VHF FM radio created, VHF aeronautical.....and more.

    It was clear that amateurs should be a part of the New UHF to encourage that?

    Thus the Technician license. It was not "an artificial construct meant to get around the 13 WPM code test" at all; it was intended to be an experimenter's license. The original 1951 Technician only had privileges above 220 MHz!

    In 1947, the international treaty changed, making the code test optional IF the license granted gave ONLY privileges above 1000 MHz. Later, that dividing line was dropped to 146 MHz and then to 30 MHz.

    The Technician ran into a problem in the USA, though. While the first Technicians had to be experimenters (in 1951 there was no manufactured ham gear for 220 and up), that soon changed. Many Techs, despite the name, were more interested in communicating than experimenting. There was pressure to give them more bands, and over time they got first 6 meters and then part of 2 meters.

    There were also many hams who saw the Technician as a step between Novice and General, even though it was never intended to be that. More than a few Novices started out on 2 meter AM (when Novices had it) and when their Novice year was up, they got Technician licenses because they'd not worked on improving their code speed enough to pass 13.

    The problem was that there really isn't the slow-speed, casual ragchewing kind of CW use on VHF/UHF that there is on HF. Many inexpensive VHF/UHF radios didn't do CW at all. Upgrading from Tech to General meant putting the mike down and studying, studying, studying code. Eventually, Techs were given Novice HF privileges, with the idea that doing so would help them upgrade to General - and because they'd passed tests at least as rigorous as Novices.

    The repeater boom sealed the deal in the early 1970s. By then Novices had no voice privileges on 2 or 440 - the most popular repeater bands - so more and more new hams got Technicians. In 1987 the General written test, which had been used for both the General and Technician for 36 years, was split into two elements, with the reason given that much of the test was about HF stuff that Techs didn't have. Why should the test for Tecbnician include questions about 20 meters when they don't have any privileges on 20?

    The nocodetest license came in 1991 -four years after the written test was split. It was created because FCC really, really wanted it. (FCC had been pushing for a nocodetest license since the mid-1970s).

    It seems to me that what's needed is to create a whole new entry-level license, period. What we've got now is a patched up mess from 66 years ago.

    The Novice and Advanced are slowly disappearing by attrition. Eventually they will disappear completely.

    The problem with making the General the entry-level class is that while it may look "easy" to those who have been licensed a long time, it does not seem so easy to newcomers. It puzzles me as to why some hams cannot put themselves in the place of someone just getting started.

    If it were up to me, there would be three license classes - Basic, Limited, and Full, each with its own tests and privileges. All existing license classes would be closed to new entries, but existing licensees could renew and modify them indefinitely. The new license classes would be available to all upon retesting. Various existing license classes would carry various credits toward the new licenses.

    Too radical? Then create a new entry level, with its own test and privileges, and close off the Technician to new issues.

    73 de Jim, N2EY
    KC3BZJ and KB1PA like this.
  10. KK5JY

    KK5JY Ham Member QRZ Page

    To be fair, there has been a lot of creative revisionism going on in these restructuring threads. :cool: There hasn't been so much inventive agenda-driven "history" in one place since the founding of the NKVD...

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