What? ARRL Petitions FCC to Expand Privileges of Technician-Class Amateur Radio Operators

I have my opinion on ARRL asking FCC to grant more HF privileges to Technician-class licensees.

I verbalize them in this video:

After you hear my comments, please leave your comments.

Thanks, 73 de NW7US dit dit

Tomas Hood, NW7US, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Nebraska, USA. Tomas is the Space Weather and Radio Propagation Contributing Editor to 'CQ Amateur Radio Magazine', 'The Spectrum Monitor', and 'RadioUser UK Magazine'.

21 Responses to “What? ARRL Petitions FCC to Expand Privileges of Technician-Class Amateur Radio Operators”

  • Tony N8WAC (Extra):

    I see no problem with the Tech’s getting access to some hf freq’s. I think that Tech’s getting just data modes would be more of an incentive to upgrade than it would be by giving them voice too. Data would be a teaser. Getting voice too they may be satisfied enough and not upgrade. Again I don’t see how it would hurt by Tech’s gaining hf access.

    PS…..I don’t say they have to because I had too. That’s so lame and stingy.

    Extra/old 20 wpm N8WAC

  • Bruce Prior N7RR:

    Phone and digital privileges for Technicians on 80 m, 40 m and 15 m are long overdue. I hope once they get a taste of HF operating, many will consider upgrading. There’s great stuff happening on 30 m, 20 m and 17 m, so a bit more studying will allow them to play there, too.
    73, Bruce Prior N7RR

  • Richard KWØU:

    Interesting and reasoned discussion, Tomas. I think the idea is to get more techs interested in upgrading to general, and as a side effect expand the ham base with younger people. Perhaps that will work, though they still would need HF equipment and perhaps mentors to make the jump. I agree there will be people who are understandably opposed as it does relax the entry requirements, which have been easing for a long time. On the other hand, technologies and interests do change, and organizations that don’t adjust will become increasingly irrelevant. It’s a fine line, but this seems to be one attempt to keep the hobby viable, and that is something to seriously consider.

  • Ross KG5OED:

    Why not? Maybe it would bring more people into amateur radio. 72/73`s

  • Bob N2SU:

    I’m in favor of the proposal. Digital modes are the present and future of the hobby. There will always be a place for traditional modes like phone and CW but this should whet the appetites of new hams for more. The General isn’t that difficult, and should carry more privileges.

    73/Bob (Extra since 1975)

  • Jim NB3P:

    Interesting arguments. I would favor this but for the reason of use it or lose it. I have not heard the HF bands as busy as they were about 30 years ago. So it would be helpful to see it used more. I personally don’t see a huge influx of users as HF year is not cheap and may be financially out of reach for younger operators but we should encourage the use of the frequencies or we could stand to lose them. I know that with the changes in technology, (satellites, improved VHF technology etc. ) governments and businesses have abandoned HF communications but that does not mean that some new technology could come along in the future that would make HF desirable again. The newer digital modes that hams are using could become useful to the business sector. Many things developed by hams have found their way into various industries. So I say give the technicians some HF privileges and help repopulate the bands. That’s my opinion so take it and a buck and a half and you can get a cup of coffee at any donut shop. 😀😀. Jim NB3P, Florida

  • Israel W1ASA:

    I don’t agree with their logic. If you give them this there is no reason for them to upgrade. Because most of the younger people are really into radio like they use to be. Being a VE I’ve talked many of them and they still seem to think that a cell phone is better than Ham radio. And Digital modes (D-Star, Fusion, DMR)are better than HF. And I don’t think that it’s fair to the Hams who have studied to upgrade to the General and Extra level. I just don’t understand this just give it to people. No more earn it first.

  • Gayland W9AKW:

    I do not agree with what the ARRL is doing. If we listen to the repeaters and see the condition most of them are in I don’t think so. A lot of the repeaters sound like a bunch of CBers. No call signs and a bunch of CB lingo. If the FCC a time limit on it like it did the novice license years ago this might help push them to upgrade.. But I say no to this

  • John KD0JPE:

    I have to agree with W1ASA. The purpose behind incentive licensing was to hold the carrot out there to encourage advancement through learning. Open up the bands and there won’t be much incentive to have anything other than a Technician license.

  • Harry K7ZOV:

    John (Kd0JPE).. Either you were not around then or been mislead about the original incentive licensing that the ARRL pushed. It damned near killed ham radio and for the most part put a lot of really good ham radio companies out of business. I have been a ham since 1963. I have seen a lot happen to the hobby. I have seen CW die, not because of the ARRL or even the FCC. Like the reality of not what killed CW requirements was PSK31 killing CW’s butt and providing more reliable communication. That followed by other digital modes. Digital is the future of ham radio, but only in the sense it give hams just one more tool to use when the bands are crap like they are tonight.

    I am a Extra Class. I am all for tech getting more HF digital.. I am still thinking about the addition of voice. However I can see how the taste of both could and world make the bands more active and the incentive in this case is not like the BS the ARRL tried last time. This time it makes more sense. I vote yes for it…

    73 Harry K7ZOV

  • TIM NG3I:

    I say no to the petition. I remember incentive licensing in the 1960s which ARRL supported that divided up the hf bands between extra, advanced and generals in an effort to spur “upgrades”. It did not work then and ARRL lost a lot of members due to hard feelings. The current petition will be a gift to Technicians with no incentive to upgrade. I say don’t do this, but if you must, put a one year time limit on the “gift”. If no upgrade to General or Extra, the the new bands go away.
    History of licensing actions by FCC:
    1912 radio act of 1912 created first and second grade amateur licenses
    1951 fcc license structure decision – six classes of licenses created
    1964 incentive licensing
    1987 novice enhancement. novice and tech granted limited voice on 10 meters
    1990 no Morse code for techs (above 30 MHZ)
    2000 restructure – reduced to three classes -tech, general, extra. 5 wpm code for all.
    2003 end of Morse code requirement
    So, where are we today? Better because of the changes?
    The old novice license had a time limit. Upgrade within the time limit or leave the hobby. That’s a strong incentive for one who wants to stay in amateur radio. If someone wants to remain a technician with tech privileges that’s fine. Don’t give away Gen and Extra assets to the techs without a requirement to earn them.

  • David AD0QD:

    I am an Extra. That being said I think that the Technicians should get access to a few more, not all of the HF bands. I am not a “I had to do it so why not the next group”. I mentor Boy Scouts to get their ham license and one of the hurdles that new hams have to go overcome is a radio. I give them a chinese dual bander as an incentive to get on the air. I also loan them an all band QRP rig to get their feet wet on 10 meters. That helps them get more interested in the hobby. I like the idea of giving them some but not all privileges on the bands down to 20 meters. Then they could get into more activity in digital modes which hold their interest since they are already on chat rooms/Facebook/Twitter.

  • Todd KD0TLS:

    HF operation is not the great prize it once was, in the current technological context. Many new hams don’t find it compelling, even after they upgrade. It’s like offering a vegetarian a hamburger if they pass a test. I haven’t found the current Tech HF privileges to be particularly exciting. So I don’t think this proposal would achieve the desired effect.
    Those here who want a “move up or move out” model are assuming that amateur radio is a hell of a lot more attractive to people than it actually is. Everyone that gets their licence is not “hooked for life”, and HF privileges won’t change that. We aren’t holding on to most of the new hams, except on paper. In fact, this idea that ham radio is some kind of exclusive club is exactly what repels new people. Exams don’t create good operators or good behaviour.

  • Bud Garretson:

    I agree with Tomas. Being a CVE, I have new licensees ask about getting on the HF bands. Many of these are young folks, just entering their teens, and they want to know how to talk to foreign countries. Let’s give the Techs some HF privileges and then they can upgrade if they want more.

  • jeff n1kdo:

    C’mon, write something. The written word is not dead.

    I am NOT IN FAVOR of the ARRL proposal. Here’s why. The General test is not that hard, it is *not* a barrier to entry, and the topics learned while studying for that test include valuable lessons for the future HF operator. I also believe that people value things less that they did not work for themselves.

    I know that ARRL is trying to prevent the extinction of our fine hobby, and I support that, but this is not the route. The problem is in mentoring — it’s easy to get a Tech license, but then, what’s a new tech to do? ARRL needs to focus on the community aspects of our hobby to reach and teach new hams, so they will discover the value of HF privileges, strive for, and attain that goal.

    The problem is in keeping people in Amateur Radio. Many pass the tech test, only to grow bored or frustrated with amateur radio, and I attribute this to lack of mentoring. Giving away band privileges is not going to fix this.

  • Darrell N3JWJ:

    I was a Tech+ who didn’t do much with HF. After I was introduced to PSK-31, I got on 10M and had a blast with contacts all over the world. HF digital convinced me to upgrade to General so I could get on 20M.

    Now that propagation on 10M is in the dumper, I think phone and digital privileges will get Techs active on HF bands they can use. Once they’ve got a taste, some will get the incentive to upgrade to get on the bands they’re missing. It’s a win-win for the hobby. I support the proposal enthusiastically.

  • Bill Fargo KI7HYI:

    I would have been a novice in elementary school if I hadn’t had to learn the code that I have never had an interest in using. The US was the last country on the planet to drop the code requirement, which was retained to keep the “unqualified” from becoming hams.
    I have had a commercial radiotelephone license since the mid-70s, when I began a career in broadcast engineering and telecommunications.
    I have never understood why both commercial and amateur licenses can be obtained by anyone who can memorize the question and answer pool, but lack even the basic understanding of the technology.
    If it were up to me, there would be one amateur license just as there is one commercial drivers license, which I have held with tanker, doubles/triples, and hazmat endorsements since 1990. One would gain more access to spectrum as one demonstrated more hands-on functionality. A written test is irrelevant when didactic experience is required.

  • David Hammack, N4DFP:

    I think the whole thing is about maintaining the incentive to upgrade. Morse Code? it was dead except for hams, 60 or more years ago. Morse Code does nothing to advance the state of radio arts and sciences. It is ridiculous to limit even Tech Class hams to Morse Code. That said, HF spectrum is limited, and I feel it is appropriate to restrict it to higher license class operators, because it is such valuable spectrum, it is ridiculous to have the Tech Class spectrum virtually empty of Tech Class ops. I think rather than granting Tech Class phone privileges, it would be more appropriate to grant them the use of digital modes in all digital portions of HF, even the entirety of 30m.
    This would do 2 things. It would leave voice privileges as incentive to upgrade, and encourage the expansion of digital modes, arguably, the real future of HF communications.

  • John KB7QFZ:

    Great idea. HF is dead in more than one way. It is all About D-star and DMR. Who would want a big clunky radio and to have to put up an antenna when you can get on DMR or Dstar and get the same result. If they don’t give Techs HF privileges, HF will be completely dead before we know it and the radio companies will be gone. Except for maybe their commercial line. But Motorola owes that.

  • kj4fgi:

    I am in favor, it used to be one needed to produce a call sign or license to purchase a ham radio, now anyone can purchase a Chinese radios on eBay, Amazon, ect, that have flooded the market.

    There are many non hams, mostly on 10m, illegally using them, why not expand the privileges to folks that are willing to take the initiative to get licensed.

    As people prep for emergencies and these ham radios become cheep and easily available, I foresee more non hams buying Chinese radios off eBay.

  • Ralph Brandt K3HQI:

    The comments about the techs being poor operators is crap. If it is in your area, why are you not becoming an Observer (I AM) and why aren’t you mentoirng them? This is the fix,not out here complaining. I send more bad poperator cards to Extras and Generals than techs. I have facts, not opinions.

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