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ARRL Petitions FCC for HF Phone Privileges for Technicians

Discussion in 'Ham Radio Discussions' started by K4KYV, Mar 1, 2018.

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  1. K4KYV

    K4KYV Premium Subscriber Volunteer Moderator QRZ Page

    Regarding HF phone privileges, Novices and Techs only have 'phone on 10 meters and only SSB. The SSB-only clause was promoted by ARRL when they first submitted the Novice Enhancement petition to the FCC, allegedly out of concern that hordes of CBers would take out a Novice ticket and convert their AM-only CB radios to 10m, and turn the new Novice phone sub-band into an extension of 11m where they could legally run 200 watts. That was a bogus concern from the outset, since if anything, converting a CB rig to 10m would be a cheap and easy way for a beginner to get a phone rig on the air and maybe learn something in the process, as would building a simple 10m homebrew low-power AM transmitter. This is the same mentality that has resulted in the Canadian/UK/Australian "Foundation" licence restricting operation to the use of commercially-manufactured transmitters, thus prohibiting to newcomers the privilege of homebrew construction and thus mandatory orientation in the direction of appliance operation from the outset.

    In any case, the 10m SSB-only restriction in the U.S. is outdated, if it ever had any validity at all. The CB boom is long over; the band is like a ghost town to-day and interest in 11m is minuscule compared to what it was in 1987, so this would no longer be the threat that was perceived when Novice Enhancement was first proposed.

    If this Petition ever reaches the RM-number or Notice of Proposed Rulemaking stage, this would be a good opportunity to include comments to the FCC requesting that they repeal the SSB-only restriction in the 10m Novice/Technician segment. Allowing newcomers the opportunity to convert an old AM CB transmitter, or homebrew a simple 10m AM transmitter to get on the air, would be in the original spirit of what amateur radio is supposed to be all about.
    WD4IGX, WB2CAU and AD5HR like this.
  2. SM0AOM

    SM0AOM Ham Member QRZ Page

    The background to this is that the SSA was able to dilute the exam standards for the single licence (certificate) class to an extremely low level during the 1994 - 2011 period, in order to try attracting more membership.

    Now the SSA wants to create a new Entry certificate class with even lower requirements. The lawyers at the PTS (who run the regulator) could not see any meaningful reason for lowering the entry standards without making the previous class certificate exam at least somewhat harder, which the SSA is vehemently against.

    So, unless the bar for the General licence could be raised, no entry level.

    Reasons behind the proposed 200 W limit for licence-exempt operation come out of a new interpretation of the PTS National Spectrum Strategy, where conditions for licence-exemptions are set forth.

    The exemption templates are intended for uncoordinated spectrum users in the milliwatt to 10 or 20 W power ranges.

    The lawyers have decided that power levels at the kW level are not suitable for general exemptions, but have set the limit at 200 W to avoid much extra work issuing permits, as the number of amateurs using above 200 W levels are small here.

    However, the lawyers had been set on the scent by an incident two years ago, when an irate high-powered radio amateur tried to stop the making of the report referred to above by initiating a law-suit against the regulator and the two other agencies that co-sponsored the study, accusing them of corruption.

    This incident has severely soured the relations between the PTS and the SSA since.

    Finally, the restriction of the UK Foundation to factory-made gear comes out of an interpretation of the EU Radio Equipment Directive, in which radio amateurs enjoy a general exemption from type-acceptance of gear and are explicitly permitted to home-construct, based on competence.

    The UK regulator does not believe that Foundation licencees have the required knowledge to ascertain that home-brew gear does comply with ITU and EU emission standards.
    Similar reasoning can also be found in the Danish regulations.

    Why Australia and Canada also have chosen this path, I do not know, but it may be suspected that similar reasons apply.

    Last edited: Mar 11, 2018
  3. K4KYV

    K4KYV Premium Subscriber Volunteer Moderator QRZ Page

    Interestingly, the regulations merely read "commercially built" and mention nothing about "type accepted".

    They regulators could require a short written exam with a few test questions covering basic technical topics, and declare successfully passing that test as "competence". That's the way the old Novice class ticket in the U.S. worked for many years. The Novice candidate would take the test under a licensed volunteer examiner, the papers would be sent off by mail to the FCC, and while the prospective licensee waited the usual 5 to 6 weeks for the licence to arrive, (s)he would use that time to set up a station, often home-building a simple transmitter from scratch.

    Merely buying a commercially-built plastic box, plugging it in and talking on the air, one isn't likely to learn very much radio. Not much different from CB.
  4. SM0AOM

    SM0AOM Ham Member QRZ Page

    Commercially made radio gear for sale to the general public in the EU does need to have the "CE-mark" which is a certification that it conforms to the EU Radio Equipment Directive.

    This is not a "type acceptance" in the FCC sense.

    Sometimes the terms "CE-mark certification" and "type acceptance" are used interchangeably in a somewhat loose manner.

    Last edited: Mar 12, 2018
  5. SM0AOM

    SM0AOM Ham Member QRZ Page

    Earlier, the Danish regulations were mentioned.
    The Danes have three certificate classes, A, B and D.

    The A and B exams are quite extensive, with B roughly corresponding to the German E licence exam.

    However, the D exam is extremely simple, in the order of the previous Swedish exam for a full licence, and it is explicitly labeled as a "Communicator Licence" with a 20 question multiple choice test "Ikke-Teknisk Prøve" or "Non-Technical Exam". It only gives VHF and UHF privileges (6m to 23 cm) with a 50 W power limit, which are directly derived from the Danish Spectrum Strategy.

    The D certificate class was derived originally from a wish of both the regulator and the
    Danish IARU society EDR to get illegal CB-ers off 27 MHz and onto the amateur frequencies.
    EDR also hoped for more members.

    Regarding the requirement for commercially made equipment, the regulations are as follows (original Danish text first, my translation last):

    "5) Personer, der har Kategori D-certifikat, må alene benytte fabriksfremstillede radioanlæg, som ikke er undtaget fra bestemmelserne i bekendtgørelse om radioudstyr og elektromagnetiske forhold
    5) Persons, that have a Category D-certificate, may only use factory-made radio equipment, which is not exempted from the regulations set forth in the Proclamation about Radio Equipment and Electromagnetic Compability"

    The Proclamation is the national implementation of the EU Radio Equipment and EMC Directives, in which radio amateurs enjoy a general exemption from having to test and CE-mark their equipment. This exemption has been voided for Class D amateurs, as they are not considered sufficiently technically competent using the terms found in the ITU Radio Regulations and the EU RED and EMC directives.

    In my opinion, this would be a licence class that would fit admirably the ambition level and willingness to learn shown by the "Baofeng Crowd".

  6. AC0GT

    AC0GT Ham Member QRZ Page

    My experience is the same. When I was in the Army I had my orders delayed because of an injury. To ease the passing of time I called home and asked if someone could mail me my handy-talky. When I got it no one in the company knew what it was. I explained it was a 2-way radio "kind of like CB" and no one knew what a CB radio was. This was in 2004 with a bunch of 18 year old recruits.

    What did interest them was the radio's ability to receive FM broadcast radio. When the sergeants were away I'd play music while working in the barracks.
  7. K4KYV

    K4KYV Premium Subscriber Volunteer Moderator QRZ Page

    Furthermore, the League's concern about CBers taking out a Novice ticket and moving into the sub-band is now a moot point, since the FCC no longer issues new Novice tickets.
  8. ND6M

    ND6M Ham Member QRZ Page

    not to add perspective to this post, but, wouldn't those "CBers" that "earned a Novice ticket" , actually become a licensed Amateur?

    Why would the league be concerned about that?
  9. KM1H

    KM1H Ham Member QRZ Page

    Power was down here for about 3 .5 days from that storm and the old genny sure got a workout; Ive had it since just before Hurricane Gloria in 1985.

    A new storm with 20" + forecasts is well underway as I type, about 6" so far and windy.

  10. WA3VJB

    WA3VJB Ham Member QRZ Page

    The thinking at the time, and this was held among the broader Amateur population too, is that Novices drawn from the ranks of CBers would set up their own society in their phone sub-band, not mixing with the HAM population, and perhaps not being particularly motivated to do so, ever.
    K4KYV likes this.
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