ARRL Proposal to Give Technicians More Operating Privileges

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio News' started by NW7US, Apr 10, 2019.

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  1. AC0GT

    AC0GT Ham Member QRZ Page

    We've been over this a few pages back, they reversed that decision in 06-178. You really need to get that fever under control.
  2. WJ4U

    WJ4U Subscriber QRZ Page

    Live streaming from the Forum ...
  3. KK5JY

    KK5JY Ham Member QRZ Page

    You really need to stay on-topic.
    They did? Let's look at what 06-178 actually says:

    25. Additionally, we are declining ARRL’s request that Novice and Technician Class licensees be given voice and image privileges in certain segments of the 80, 40, 15 and 10 m bands. Our action today giving Technician Class licensees the same privileges as Technician Plus Class licensees does effectively provide some of the relief ARRL seeks because Technician class licensees now have voice and digital privileges in the 10 m HF band. However, we are concerned that giving Novice and Technician class licensees voice privileges in the other HF bands would be a disincentive for these licensees to improve their knowledge and skills and attain a higher class license. Passing the thirty-five question written examination for the intermediate class of license -- the General Class -- is well within the capability of most, if not all, Technician and Technician Plus licensees, particularly given the study guides and other aids available from, among others, the ARRL. However, providing the complete relief ARRL requests and removing most of the “reward” for passing the examination -- access to other HF bands -- would likewise remove the incentive to do so and would be inconsistent with the Commission’s rationale for establishing different operator license classes. We therefore are not persuaded that we should make further changes in the operating privileges attendant on the current license classes given the record before us.​

    That said, I'm glad you mentioned that document again, because it made me go find the specific text refuting your claim. Add that to the pile of documents in support of what I have been saying all along. :)
  4. AC0GT

    AC0GT Ham Member QRZ Page

    Why? It sounds like no one, not even you, are taking this seriously any more.

    Right, in support of a stance that you don't even seem to believe as valid.

    You quote 05-143 to support your claim. When it's brought you your attention that this decision was modified in 06-178 you then pull a paragraph from a section of that document where they are discussing their decision to deny the request of a new entry level license, instead of the the section where they are discussing their decision to add HF bandwidth to Technician privileges. You also have on your "pile" the FCC decision on the TMRA petition where they didn't even petition for any changes to Technician privileges on 80, 40, or 15 meters. Calling each document "repeated" support of the FCC deciding that they will never ever in a million years reconsider changes to Technician privileges.

    On the other hand we see the FCC being increasingly hostile to CW operations, both in commercial licensing and Amateur radio, starting with the creation of the "slow-code" Technician in the 1950s. It appears that there were a handful of aborted attempts to create a "no-code" Technician license before the FCC decided they were not going to take no for an answer in 1990, which also came with the medical waivers for Morse code testing beyond the bare minimum 5 WPM. Then came the elimination of the 20 WPM and 13 WPM Morse code testing, followed a few years later by the 5 WPM testing going away. With that came HF privileges for "no-code" Technician.

    Now we have a very popular petition to extend digital modes on the current CW only portions of HF within the Technician privileges. You want me to believe the FCC will never ever in a million years approve even a portion of this petition because... the FCC believes the CW only restriction encourages Technician license holders to upgrade to General so they can operate digital modes on these frequencies?

    I'm thinking you don't even believe your own "pile" any more.

    Thanks for the laughs, I needed the distraction while sitting in my basement office while the tornado watch was in effect. Now that the storms have passed I'm going upstairs to get some sleep.
  5. KK5JY

    KK5JY Ham Member QRZ Page

    Same here. This has been good practice for dealing with challenging coworkers. :)

    See you down the forums:

  6. N2EY

    N2EY XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    You're welcome.

    I don't see the FCC having a "distaste for CW" at all, at any time.

    What has developed is that FCC doesn't see a need for CW TESTING. In particular, they stopped believing that having a separate, must-pass test on Morse Code should be a requirement for any US amateur radio license. If people want to learn and use Morse Code/CW, fine with FCC, no problem.....but as a license test? Nope.

    From reading the R&O that resulted in the April 2000 restructuring, the ONLY reason FCC kept ANY code testing was because of the ITU-R treaty. That R&O was written 20 years ago!

    I got the story from K2ASP, who posted it in the old newsgroup. (remember them?) Phil worked for FCC for many years, and I have no reason to doubt his recollection.

    Hold on.

    The elimination of Morse Code TESTING. Not Morse Code itself.

    Actually, the end of mandatory maritime radiotelegraphy was 1997. Note that it was not eliminated as an option; it just wasn't mandatory any more.

    More importantly, note that the real driving force behind GMDSS and other developments was saving money. When you're in business, reducing costs is a major goal - that's why we have CADD operators instead of draftsmen, why modern container ships use diesel engines and small crews and are enormous compared to the ships of a few decades ago, etc. The cabin crews of most airliners have gotten smaller even as the aircraft have gotten bigger. It's all about reduced cost.

    Note too how the Commercial Radiotelephone licenses have save money.

    I think you take the Basis and Purpose section of Part 97 way too literally.

    A piece of history:

    Before 1951, the US amateur radio regulations did not have a "Basis and Purpose" section at all. Nobody saw any need for one; everyone knew what "amateur radio" was and what it was for.

    But in the years after WW2, FCC was in a very "activist" mode, and insisted that each and every radio service have a Basis and Purpose section. In 1949 or so they proposed a detailed B&P section for Amateur Radio. ARRL and others opposed it, but it soon became clear that FCC wouldn't take no for an answer. So they worked with FCC and came up with this in 1951, as part of Docket 9295:


    (What we now know as Part 97 was Part 12 back then)

    If that looks familiar, it should: It's the same today as it was 68 years ago!

    The B&P was purposely made as general as possible, to allow lots of leeway for what hams do.

    Not exactly. Apologies for not being clear.

    What I meant was that, for decades now, FCC has taken a pretty "hands off" attitude towards Amateur Radio, in large part due to lack of resources. Uses of Radio have exploded since the 1970s, but FCC's resources haven't. (Think of how many communications technologies that we use today just didn't exist in 1979.) FCC has to regulate them all, but they don't automatically get more resources to do so.

    Example: Some time back, there was a proposal to use a certain part of the spectrum for a sort of wifi technology. Those proposing it saw all sorts of advantages....but then it was noted that there was a potential for the new technology to interfere with tens of millions of consumer-grade GPS receivers. FCC had to deal with the issue, and deal with it fast. IIRC they turned it down.

    It cost FCC serious $$$ to look into the proposal, research it, and make a decision - but they got no added money or people to do so. In such an environment, amateur radio doesn't get much priority.

    Commercial, yes. IIRC, military comes under NTIA.

    1990 was almost 30 years ago!

    The idea that Amateur Radio requirements were driven by commercial and military needs is, well, not borne out by events. If it were, the written test requirements would have been changed much more than they have been....but they haven't been.

    No, it isn't. Not at all.

    The reason for it has nothing to do with "demand by industry". Nothing at all.

    That bandwith is "CW only" for Novices and Technicians ONLY. Generals, Advanceds and Extras can use other modes there.

    The reason for those three segments (80/40/15) is that nobody has convinced FCC to change the rules.....yet.

    Since the 1970s, FCC's method of dealing with Part 97 has been to make minor changes, not sweeping restructuring. They have consistently changed as little as possible, and only when driven by either or both of the following factors:

    1) A change will save FCC resources. This drove the VEC system, 10 year licenses, and the reduction of license classes from 6 to 3.

    2) A change is championed from above (medical waivers) or is widely supported by the amateur community (vanity callsigns, fewer restrictions on data modes).

    And that's about it.

    As for the CW-only privileges of Novices and Technicians on three HF bands, IMHO the FCC really doesn't care, one way or the other. What they DO care about is their resources, and when such a proposal is controversial, their natural reaction is to turn it down.

    IOW, I think we hams need to do more to get our ducks in a row BEFORE proposing stuff to FCC, rather than using their comment system as a discussion forum.

    73 de Jim, N2EY
    K6LPM and W0PV like this.
  7. AC0GT

    AC0GT Ham Member QRZ Page

    Whether it is a distaste for CW or for Morse code testing is perhaps a distinction without a difference. Speaking generally about all radio services, not just Amateur radio, the FCC appears to be following the demand of commercial operators for Morse code qualified operators in their offerings of licenses, certificates, and endorsements for Morse code. As use of CW declined so has the number of these licenses, certificates, and endorsements.

    When it comes to the Amateur Radio Service the FCC lost all interest in Morse code testing once commercial and military operators moved beyond CW. If people want to learn and use Morse code and CW on Amateur radio then I agree that the FCC doesn't much care. When it comes to commercial users then the FCC did what they could to move them on to voice and digital modes once GMDSS was established. It appears to me that there were plenty of commercial users that didn't want to budge because upgrading equipment to meet the new requirements cost them money.

    Yes, they saw no need to maintain a pool of Morse code trained operators in Amateur radio once commercial and military users moved beyond CW sometime in the 1990s. That became abundantly clear once the US Coast Guard (which is a military branch BTW) stopped listening for CW (at least officially) in the late 1990s.

    I remember newsgroups. I have no reason to doubt that there was a request from POTUS to do something about Morse code testing for Amateur radio, my doubt is how much weight this actually carried in any actions from the FCC. POTUS can ask for a lot of things but the FCC still has to answer to Congress on what they are allowed to do. By 1990 the Cold war was effectively over, GMDSS was pretty well established, and so the need to keep a ready pool of trained Morse code operators was fading fast. Again, this became abundantly clear a few years later as the Coast Guard was winding down their CW capability.

    Yes, of course, the Morse code testing requirements in Amateur radio was being reduced in near lock step with the requirements that ships be equipped with GMDSS gear.

    I'm not going to argue about the specific year. The point is that sometime between 1995 and 2000 the use of CW by ships at sea, at least in waters the USA cared about, went from near routine to near nothing. The US Coast Guard stopped listening for it (again, at least officially, there were quite likely many sailors that listened out of concern and/or curiosity) in this time frame. As I recall there were still a number of commercial ships that kept their old CW gear because they would travel to foreign ports that still operated CW, but even then the traffic was very light.

    It wasn't about just saving money but about saving lives. GMDSS allowed for automated operation even if the crew were unable to operate the radio. Automatic locator beacons were mandated as part of this switch away from CW. Certainly an automated beacon can transmit CW, and there are numerous historical examples of this, but other modes allowed for better performance. Keeping hand sent CW did not make sense if the receiver is a computer. Creating computer sent CW only makes much sense if the receiver is a human. Once there is a computer on both ends there is a desire to use a mode that performs better than CW, to save lives, and is cheaper to implement, to save money.

    Part of that money saving was in things like having the radio DJ and talk show hosts be licensed so that they could keep the station on frequency and within power limits and not need a technician on site to do this. As technology improved the need to keep so many trained people at broadcast stations diminished. So, yes, it was to save money. The ability to save money with fewer trained and licensed operators was made possible with improved technology.

    I believe the FCC takes the basis and purpose quite literally. It is from this basis and purpose they make decisions on how Amateur radio licensing is done.

    I can take that example as showing the FCC takes Amateur radio quite seriously. If they didn't much care about this then they could have simply denied the request without even looking at it. Instead they researched it, expending limited funds and manpower to do so, in order to see to it that Amateur radio was able to experiment with spread spectrum technology. It seems to me that they want licensed Amateurs to experiment with this so that industry can take advantage of what might come from it.

    The military recruits from the pool of licensed Amateurs for positions as radio operators. Civilian operations like MARS, CAP, Boy Scouts, etc. all fall under the FCC but its from this pool that come future NTIA operators in the military and government. The FCC cannot ignore the needs of the military because both the NTIA and FCC answer to the executive and legislative branches of the federal government, and the federal government wants military recruits.

    Why would the written requirements have changed any more than they have been? The basics of radio technology and FCC rules have moved slowly. So long as the people in Amateur radio keep up with technology the FCC should see no need to step in. As I see it they have, largely because the Amateur radio community "borrows" heavily from commercial users, and to some extent this is also true in the reverse where commercial users "borrow" from Amateur radio.

    Right, because the FCC is bound by the basis and purpose. The petitions to change the rules on Technician so far failed because they don't meet the interpretation of this basis and purpose as the FCC sees it.

    I agree on the need to get "ducks in a row". It appears to me that there has been an alignment between what the Amateur radio community wants and what the FCC can allow with this petition.
  8. N2EYE

    N2EYE Ham Member QRZ Page

    I guess I'm an old Tech with code element that would be motivated by 40 phone privileges.
    I haven't been on air for several years but HF is the place to be.
    I'd like to operate again and have no interest in vhf, I have an iphone for that.
    I thoroughly enjoyed 10 meters but it's unreliable.
    The antenna requirements for 40 meters will keep the knuckle-heads out.
  9. WJ4U

    WJ4U Subscriber QRZ Page

    This time of year, despite the down cycle, 6m and 10m have been pretty busy!

    And don’t forget to work 2m so it doesn’t go away. ;)
  10. W7UUU

    W7UUU Principal Moderator Lifetime Member 133 Administrator Volunteer Moderator Platinum Subscriber Life Member QRZ Page

    So just take a pretty simple test and get on HF! Find out when your local club VE night is, bone up with a $24 book, and pass the test.

    Why wait for the FCC to change the law?? That could take YEARS!!

    W4AUT, K7GYB, KZ4KX and 2 others like this.

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