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Value of incentive licensing today

Discussion in 'Ham Radio Discussions' started by KB7QPS, Feb 7, 2018.

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  1. KB7QPS

    KB7QPS Ham Member QRZ Page

    I understand the background behind incentive licensing. Part a desire to reward technical aptitude of Americans, and part because of the challenge of learning Morse Code. That's all water under the bridge.

    I'm wondering what is the value that incentive licensing provides to Amateur Radio today. The tests are not hard to pass. All of the questions are published along with the answers, and one simply needs to memorize the answers. It took me 9 days of studying (maybe 1 hour per day) to upgrade from General to Extra when I upgraded about 2 years ago.

    I'm wondering - and trying really hard not to be a troll - if the benefit of incentive licensing is less aimed at increasing our technical aptitude as Amateur Radio Operators, but rather to provide endless fodder, discussion, and debate among existing amateurs and the ARRL.

    It seems to be that the amateurs (the ARRL primarily) spend a lot of time trying to "improve" the various Amateur classes by moving operating privileges around. I've been licensed since 1992 and one thing is for sure - the license classes and privileges assigned to each class is never stable.

    Outside of this opportunity to be engaged at redefining amateur radio as we know it, does the incentive licensing program actually provide any benefits to either us as Amateurs or the public at large?
    AF7XT likes this.
  2. WA4ILH

    WA4ILH Subscriber QRZ Page

    The only thing I fear about the dumbing down of testing is that sometime in the future, testing will fall below the basic knowledge threshold of being able to operate a radio responsibly
    Tom WA4ILH
    NK2U, KC9VFO and N7ZAL like this.
  3. W4NNF

    W4NNF XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    The tests are easy for some people--but not easy at all for others, even though the question pool is out there. And the release of the question pool isn't exactly new for amateur or commercial licenses. Anyway, there is definitely incentive to upgrade in increased privileges.

    Not everybody can sit down and pass all three tests in one sitting, so the tests at least ensure that most folks will have had a little experience, at least, on the air before they are set free on the bands with full privileges. Should the Extra be a little more difficult? Maybe...I'm not convinced there's anything wrong with the way things are. License numbers are healthy, and there's no more foolishness on the bands, really, than there used to be. Frankly, given the FCC's lackadaisical enforcement and the greater number of hams, I'm surprised things are as calm as they are.

    Did hams used to be a little more technically adept? Probably a little. Back in the days when commercial rigs were too expensive for the average ham, and you had to build a transmitter at least--usually from someone else's design and instructions if not from a kit--the average ham probably had a bit more technical knowledge and electronics construction skill. But a new license exam isn't going to change the fact that most people do/must buy their transceivers now.
    NY7Q, NK2U, AF7XT and 3 others like this.
  4. KY5U

    KY5U Subscriber QRZ Page

    Listening to 75/80m at night, the extra segment is pretty tame, then listen to the circus in the general portion. Now imagine Technicians added above 3900. There is clearly a benefit to incentive licensing. I hear the same thing above below 7175.

    The problem is the ARRL. They are tweaking for Winlink, sell more magazines, etc. Leave things the #$%^ alone.
    NY7Q, NK2U and NL7W like this.
  5. WF4W

    WF4W Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    based on my observations, the incentive for new general class licensees is the lure of FT8 and the ability to get WAS in a matter of days using 20 watts, and crappy sound card / radio interface, and a non-resonant, un-balanced longwire antenna strewn about in an attic....
    W4IOA likes this.
  6. KW4GT

    KW4GT Ham Member QRZ Page

    NO!!!! I don't see how making it easier to get on SSB HF is going to be an improvement to the hobby. 75/80 is pretty well saturated already, I have no clue what this proposed change is supposed to accomplish.
    NK2U likes this.
  7. KK5JY

    KK5JY Ham Member QRZ Page

    It still has some incentive value, in that people who want to study the material will still do so. People who memorize letters will continue to do so, and that's true even of the commercial services. Their testing format is almost identical to ours.

    Whether incentive licensing is a valid approach is a moot issue. It's how the Commission has decided to structure the service, and recent efforts to request restructuring contrary to those goals have failed rather spectacularly. Regardless of the reasons for which FCC adopted incentive licensing, they have made it clear that it is here to stay, so debating it is rather pointless. People who use it as an incentive to upgrade are benefiting from its intended purpose. For those people who just memorize answers -- at least they have seen the material a few times before they get on the air, so their "learning process" wasn't entirely pointless, either.
    NK2U likes this.
  8. KY5U

    KY5U Subscriber QRZ Page

    Then we agree 100%. I would say 99% of hams don't know this is in the works.
  9. KK5JY

    KK5JY Ham Member QRZ Page

    Don't worry -- it's not. The League is going to push for it but the Commission already spent many pages explaining to them in great detail why it's a bad idea. "Technician Enhancement" is burning a lot of resources in Newington, but that's all it's going to accomplish.

    In the very unlikely event that the proposal makes it to a comment period, it's going to get buried under "don't do it!" comments. In the half-dozen threads I have seen on this subject, I have not seen one person who has even one new argument in favor of "Technician Enhancement" that wasn't already shredded by the Commission in 2005. They make a lot of words, but it's all pretty vacant stuff (e.g., "it's 2018, stuff is different today").
    NY7Q, NL7W, KY5U and 1 other person like this.
  10. KB7QPS

    KB7QPS Ham Member QRZ Page

    I want to be clear - I'm not advocating eliminating incentive licensing. I like it and it works.

    I just don't understand why folks constantly think it need to be messed around with and constantly debated and discussed. Why can't we just let it be?
    NY7Q, NK2U, K5RCD and 1 other person like this.

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