[Fwd: Special Bulletin on Amateur Restructuring]

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From: Laura A Fisher (wlfisher@bellatlantic.net)
Date: Sat Jan 01 2000 - 09:32:53 EST


ARRL Letter distribution list wrote:

> Dear subscriber: There is no edition of The ARRL Letter this week, so we're
> forwarding the following important news on Amateur Radio license
> restructuring as a Special Bulletin. Best wishes for a happy new year
> 2000!--Rick Lindquist, N1RL
>
> ~~~~~~~~~~
>
> Amateur Restructuring is Here: Three License Classes, One Code Speed
>
> NEWINGTON, CT, Dec 30, 1999--Amateur Radio will get a new look in the new
> millennium. The FCC today issued its long-awaited Report and Order in the
> 1998 Biennial Regulatory Review of Part 97--more commonly known as "license
> restructuring." The bottom line is that starting April 15, 2000, there will
> be three license classes--Technician, General, and Amateur Extra--and a
> single Morse code requirement--5 WPM.
>
> "We believe that an individual's ability to demonstrate increased Morse code
> proficiency is not necessarily indicative of that individual's ability to
> contribute to the advancement of the radio art," the FCC said.
>
> Besides drastically streamlining the Amateur Radio licensing process, the
> FCC said its actions would "eliminate unnecessary requirements that may
> discourage or limit individuals from becoming trained operators,
> technicians, and electronic experts."
>
> Although no new Novice and Advanced licenses will be issued after the
> effective date of the Report and Order, the FCC does not plan to
> automatically upgrade any existing license privileges. The ARRL had proposed
> a one-time across-the-board upgrading of current Novice and Tech Plus
> licensees to General class, but the FCC declined to adopt the idea. This
> means that current licensees will retain their current operating privileges,
> including access to various modes and subbands, and will be able to renew
> their licenses indefinitely.
>
> Starting April 15, 2000, individuals who qualified for the Technician class
> license prior to March 21, 1987, will be able to upgrade to General class by
> providing documentary proof to a Volunteer Examiner Coordinator, paying an
> application fee, and completing FCC Form 605.
>
> The FCC's decision not to automatically upgrade Novice and Tech Plus
> licensees means the current Novice/Tech Plus HF subbands will remain and not
> be "refarmed" to higher class licensees as the ARRL had proposed. The FCC
> said it did not refarm these subbands because there was "no consensus"
> within the amateur community as to what to do with them.
>
> As it had proposed earlier, the FCC decided to lump Technician and Tech Plus
> licensees into a single licensee database, all designated as "Technician"
> licensees. Those who can document having passed the 5 WPM Morse code
> examination will continue to have the current Tech Plus HF privileges. "If
> documentation is needed to verify whether a licensee has passed a telegraphy
> examination, we may request the documentation from that licensee or the
> VECs," the FCC said.
>
> In addition to reducing the number of license classes from six to three and
> eliminating the 20 and 13 WPM code tests, the FCC also will reduce the
> number of written examination elements from five to three, authorize
> Advanced Class hams to prepare and administer General class examinations,
> and eliminate Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES) station
> licenses. RACES will remain, however. "After review of the record, we
> conclude that we should eliminate RACES station licenses because RACES
> station licenses are unnecessary for amateur stations and amateur service
> licenses to provide emergency communications," the FCC said.
>
> Under the new licensing scheme, there will be four examination elements.
> Element 1 will be the 5 WPM Morse code exam. Element 2 will be a 35-question
> written test to obtain a Technician license; Element 3 will be a 35-question
> written test to obtain a General license, and Element 4 will be a
> 50-question written test for the Amateur Extra license. The FCC has left it
> in the hands of the National Conference of VECs Question Pool Committee to
> determine the specific mix and makeup of written examination questions.
> Current Amateur Radio study materials remain valid at least until the new
> rules become effective in April.
>
> The FCC's new licensing plan means someone will be able to become a ham by
> passing a single 35-question written examination. The plan also simplifies
> and shortens the upgrade path from the ground floor through Amateur
> Extra--especially since amateurs will only have to pass one Morse code test.
>
> Elimination of the 13 and 20 WPM Morse requirements also means an end to
> physician certification waivers for applicants claiming an inability to pass
> the Morse code examination due to physical handicap.
>
> The effective date provides a window of upgrade opportunity for current
> Advanced licensees. Between now and April 15, current Advanced holders may
> take the existing Element 4B, a 40-question test, giving them credit for
> having passed the current Extra written examination. Likewise, holders of a
> Certificate of Successful Completion of Examination (CSCE) for Elements 3B
> or 4B dated on or after April 17, 1999, will be able to qualify for General
> or Amateur Extra respectively when the new rules go into effect on April 15,
> 2000.
>
> The FCC disagreed with the League's suggestion that it undertake a
> restructuring of operating privileges along with licensing restructuring.
> "We believe that in light of ongoing discussions concerning implementation
> of new and more modern communications technologies within the amateur
> service community, we should accord the amateur service community an
> opportunity to complete such discussions and possibly reach a consensus
> regarding implementation of new technologies before we undertake a
> comprehensive restructuring of the amateur service operating privileges and
> frequencies," the FCC said in its Report and Order.
>
> In its amendments to Part 97, the FCC's Report and Order refers to a "Club
> Station Call Sign Administrator," something that does not exist under the
> current rules and which was not explained in the R&O itself. An FCC
> spokesperson said the Commission plans to issue a Public Notice soon to
> explain the program and to solicit qualified entities to serve as call sign
> administrators for club station applications.
>
> A copy of the entire Report and Order (FCC 99-412) is available at
> http://www.arrl.org/announce/regulatory/wt98-143ro.pdf or at
> http://www.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/1999/db991230/fcc99412.txt
> .
>
> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
> Rick Lindquist, N1RL
> Senior News Editor
> ARRL HQ
> 860-594-0222
> n1rl@arrl.org
> Hear Amateur Radio News!
> 860-594-0384 or on the Web at
> http://www.arrl.org/arrlletter/audio/
> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


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