The FCC has changed its commercial operator license classes. As of next month the old first and second class radiotelegraph certificates will be replaced by a lifetime Radiotelegraph Operator License (what Iím calling here an RTOL). This is similar to what happened to the radiotelephone licenses in the 1980s, when the higher classes were eliminated in favor of one general license. (Third class certificates will be replaced by the Marine Operator Permit. Also, unlike the existing licenses, the RTOL will not require a photograph.) Finally, restrictive endorsements stating that commercial licenses are not valid for broadcast use or have limitations due to physical disabilities, will no longer be automatically added to any certificate. More information is available at

While commercial radiotelegraphy ended in 1999, there are still a few stations using this system. See, for example, the Maritime Radio Historical Societyís site,

For US hams who want to take an FCC code exam the RTOL will keep existing commercial standards, requiring one minute solid copy of code groups at 16 wpm and text at 20 wpm. Amateur extras who received their licenses under the old 20 wpm test are grandfathered in. To get the license a written exam, element 6, also has to be passed. The FCC commercial question banks can be seen at Note that only commercial exam COLEMS can give these tests.