Opinions About ARRL Petition to FCC: Expand Technician HF Privileges!

In this video, I expound on another point of view regarding the ARRL petition to the FCC. The petition requests an expansion of operating privileges of Technician-class operators in the USA. The ARRL believes that giving broader shortwave access, using digital communications, to Technicians, will better entice the Techs to upgrade to General or Amateur Extra. In this video, I discuss this a bit.

If you are wondering why I’ve made a few videos about this topic, when the topic has been the hot item on many forums already, I believe that the drama will not cease until well after the FCC makes a decision, because this is a relevant topic, and one that has a significant impact on the amateur radio community at large. It is not a trivial conversation about which type of coax is best suited for Arctic field activity.

After some replies came from various viewers, I clarify my point. I stand corrected.

I failed to mention that there are a limited few slices of VOICE (SSB) spectrum on HF that the petition seeks for the Tech licensee. The ARRL states, “ARRL has asked the FCC to expand HF privileges for Technician licensees to include limited phone privileges on 75, 40, and 15 meters, plus RTTY and digital mode privileges on 80, 40, 15, and 10 meters.”

More specifically, “ARRL proposes to provide Technician licensees, present and future, with phone privileges at 3.900 to 4.000 MHz, 7.225 to 7.300 MHz, and 21.350 to 21.450 MHz, plus RTTY and digital privileges in current Technician allocations on 80, 40, 15, and 10 meters. The ARRL petition points out the explosion in popularity of various digital modes over the past 2 decades. Under the ARRL plan, the maximum HF power level for Technician operators would remain at 200 W PEP. The few remaining Novice licensees would gain no new privileges under the League’s proposal.” Reference: http://www.arrl.org/news/arrl-requests-expanded-hf-privileges-for-technician-licensees

My point holds: give some reason to desire to upgrade to a higher class. Do this by granting HF operations on lower bands (lower in frequency than 10 Meters), with more than a CW-only privilege.

If a tech can only use CW on 80m, but doesn’t know CW, then it is likely she won’t ever try making contacts on 80m. Hence, no exposure to the magic of 80-meter DX. If, however, the Tech can dabble with digital or limited SSB, on 80m, then she gets a real, practical exposure to the magic, and may well upgrade. Why do you think a General, who has limits, would ever upgrade? What am I missing here?

The following video expands this idea:

The truth is, I see a strong argument for just ONE license, permanent. Or a temporary entry-level training ticket, then the permanent. But, that would make us like some other countries. That can’t be good.

The original video to which this new video continues is here:

Some viewers are asking me why I am making a video while driving. They try to convince me that talking while driving is too distracting. My answer is here:

73 de NW7US

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'.

33 Responses to “Opinions About ARRL Petition to FCC: Expand Technician HF Privileges!”

  • Arne WA1ZBN:

    Well, if Technician Class licensees want General Class privileges, then they need to upgrade to General Class.

    Why isn’t the ARRL fighting for General Class license holders who lost their privileges to operate in CEPT countries unless their upgraded to Extra Class???

  • Joe W7RKN:

    Bad idea. You give Techs phone privileges in 15, 40, and 75, and they never will get their general. I guarantee it. Why? What incentive will they have to move up? NONE!!

  • Bob Gagne N0GRK:

    So, let’s see if I have this right. The ARRL is suggesting that Techs be given phone privileges on Hf bands as an incentive to upgrade. How in the world is giving someone a benefit for which they put forth no effort supposed to provide incentive? Ridiculous proposal.
    If these folks want HF priveleges, put forth the effort and get a General or Extra. Any Tech interested enough in Amateur radio WILL put forth the effort to upgrade without being given something for nothing.

  • John KU8Q:

    I fully agree with Arne and Joe on this subject. Follow the money! ARRL wants to create more demand for rigs, which creates more demand for advertising in QST mag.
    Make the Tech ticket only good for 2-3 years and then force Techs to become Generals so they can “enjoy” the lower frequencies and more modes.
    ARRL needs to get its act together. A bunch of “old guys” running the League without their fingers on the pulse of the amateur community. That’s my $0.02 worth.

  • David W6PHO:

    Great idea having the Tech ticket expire after n years. Then they have another
    incentive to upgrade (especially if sunspots are returning at that point and HF seems more attractive than now).

    Giving them a permanent license with expanded privileges will prove to be a DISincentive to upgrade.

    In addition, the ARRL could make more effort to show Techs what the benefits of upgrading are (more articles in QST about the joys of operating, fewer articles about equipment).

  • walt n5eqy:

    Progressive liberalism? Give em what they want and they will vote for you. CB returns? Who knows? Does it matter? Probably not. Time and votes will reveal all.


    This is a horrible bad idea. Is this another way to make more QST subscribers? We already have enough 10-4 Good Buddy lingo and background pirates, profanity, intentional music, QRM, etc on the bands.

    Why don’t they fight to expand the EXTRA CLASS instead of crowding us all in?
    … Should promote more VHF/UHF phone activity’s. Should of never rid of CW requirements. I could go on and on but Sorry ! This is just and all around bad idea. I have friends whom tell me and I’ve heard many on my own who already operate out of band spectrum. Some, never ID, or they ID but in unintelligible way of intentionally not understanding their calls. I’ve even recorded some and played some back over and over and they have sounded totally different in what thye originally ID’d as… You guess?

  • Dave NK7Z:

    I fully agree with the ARRL– there is currently very little contact between Technicians, and Extra/General licensees. I believe that lack of exposure, (Elmering), is a part of why Techs are not upgrading.

    As a Novice back in the 70s, I wanted a General/Advanced/Extra ticket very badly. A lot of that want came from exposure to higher classed licensees.

    In today’s world, the Tech talks to another Tech on two meters, and has no useful privileges allowing non CW on the low bands… So the Tech never even gets to see how much fun low bands are, or what DX is…

    In ten years, there is going to be a real drop in the number of Amateur Radio Ops if something is not done to entice the current batch of Technicians to upgrade.

    Remember– less Amateur Operators means less representation, which in turn means less RFI protection, less spectrum space, etc…

    Giving the Techs a bit of HF space, is not the end of the World. Yes– I know code and can do 40 WPM. I took my Advanced test at an FCC office back in the 70s. I have an Extra, and took the twenty WPM test to get it, and it does not bother me that Techs don’t have to test for CW.

  • Roger Fowler W8WTR:

    When I started out I was a novice. I wanted to talk so I got my Tech license. I wanted to talk on the HF bands so I got my General. Nothing was given to me. My incentive was to UPGRADE! Plan and simple. Get off your duff and study then take the test and get your General.

  • Wayne N6QCU:

    I agree with Arne,Joe,Bob and John.
    Giving more privileges to Technician on HF then there is NO incentive to upgrade.
    In 1974 I got my Novice and now I have my Extra Class and proud of the accomplishment..

  • Tim N4TCM:

    Licensed in 1992 after the no-code tech license was formed. Studied and passed 5wpm while in college and earned a tech plus. Worked my way up over the 25 yrs on the air to Extra. Been on hf off and on since 2003. If I can do it, anyone can with a little effort. I had to wait. The bands are already crowded enough worldwide and sometimes not the best behaved. I’ve discovered the new techs never get on 2 meters so what makes them wanna get on hf if they lose interest in radio all together? Inquiring minds want to know…

  • Keith Lunsford W4NKL:

    I mostly agree with you opinion. I would push this farther – one test one class all bands.
    I’m new to the hobby. Spend most of my time on digital. I buy nice radios that work right out of the box. I probably never going to build a radio and if I decide that I want to do that project then I will take the time to learn how. Forcing me to take a test to have the “privilege” is not the answer.
    Spending a week to memorize answer to a test just to upgrade is dumb.
    We need a complete overhaul of the “privilege” system.

  • Brandon w9blw:

    I think it’s a money making move pushed by the radio manufacturers.

  • Allen -KO8E:

    Giving the Techs extra frequencies & modes will not get them to up grade. So many things are given to the generations and no one wants to work for anything any more. I like a lot of older hams who worked at upgrading did it because we wanted to improve ourselfs. I believe if one what to have extra privileges that one should work for it !

  • N3UAS Bob:

    I feel that the techs should be afforded the exposure to some of the hf privileges to gain some experience operating in the hf bands. My feeling is that they should not be given a free pass,I have a tech license and studying for the general I would rather earn the privileges before getting them with no effort put forth I am 78 years old and determined to gain the privileges, then on to extra! thank you. robert c dalley

  • Glenn Tracey - KK3AA:

    A terrible idea. ARRL go back and re-think this. I worked for and tested for all phases of my license. I was given nothing. Now, I petition the ARRL to grant Advanced class Extra priveliges.

  • David W7DAO:

    I would do away with General class all together. Extend the Tech test to 40 questions, extend the question pool, but get rid of questions that aren’t focused on operating, setting up a station (power, antenna, black box to black box), or safety. When you pass Tech you have all the tech and General rights that now exist. In other words, only two license classes.

  • Wayne Austin W0ZP:

    Tough questions, with 45 years in radio, and becoming an avid Morse code operator, due in part to a “code only” novice license in the beginning, I believe with all the other video games and digital toys available today , that a an entry tech ticket with Hf on one band, say 7.225 -7.300 ssb would be good if limited if limited to a one or two year license, thereby more or less forcing an upgrade

  • Benny KC5YLA:

    As a Tech Class licence holder of more than 20yrs, I agree with those who hold to tradition. My incentive to upgrade to General Class comes via Listening Only to the HF Bands by way of a Kenwood TS-830S and Grundig Satellite 800. The sheer joy of propagation amongst those who have Earned the General and/or Extra Class should be left to those Who Have Earned It. Simply put in an analogy, just because certain people are in our Country “Undocumented”, would we grant them Rights as Citizens to see if they like it enough to Actually Become One? I think not.

  • David W7DAO:

    Just to add to my earlier post. I don’t see granting additional rights as getting something for free, as I didn’t see eliminating Morse Code as getting a handout. In fact, although I was an electronics technician for over 15 years, I have a problem retaining the code, so once they dropped code I went straight from Tech to Extra. How many more entered the hobby by that change?

    If the logic of no free lunch is followed shouldn’t we go back to five licenses? To me this is a way, among many, to stimulate the hobby and keep it relevant. Also, consider the loss of manufacturers, or or their consolidation, and how a percentage of techs doing HF may help stimulate that market. Maybe the question should be, why in this modern age we need a license test and classes at all? Or maybe just one class of license to help set a standard for legal operation.

  • Keith Lunsford W4NKL:

    W7DAO – Excellent way to describe what I’m thinking /saying.
    If I want to learn CW or radio theory I will do it because I want to and not ever because I’m need it for a test.
    Memorizing test answers is not “tradition.”
    Having a good club and mentors preserves tradition.

  • Steve K7SWS:

    Well most vhf/uhf repeater go un-used in most cities I visit.
    I don’t think this will do anything but fill the HF bands with more crap!

  • K8ZAG Leon:

    If the new to ham radio do not have goals we might as well make the band’s like CB.No licence no rules just bad language no manners or respect
    No no no way,do not screw this up…..

  • W8TOW Steve:

    Technician class licensees “have” incentives to upgrade now.They have CW on HF and fone on 10M. All amateurs are offered such opportunity to improve their skills and knowledge. Techs need to learn a little CW, open the books and apply these lessons to building something. It’s called “learning”!
    To provde expanded HF Fone frequencies REMOVES incentives for Technicians and does an injustice by stalling them in this license. You are labeling them and creating yet another sub-group in our hobby.
    All this expansion will do is provide manufacturers with more amateurs to sell boxes to!

  • Steven N3rav:

    What a terrible idea. The technician frequencies have become the old CB garbage dump. Swearing. Playing music. Jamming have already degraded hf. This c would make it worse. Listen to 7.200 lately? Where is fcc enforcement today? I worked for my license and knowledge is needed
    If they do this = I will be gone with many others

  • Scott KG2S:

    Where is the incentive to upgrade if Technician class amateur radio operators are given additional privileges for free? The ARRL got it wrong with this idea.

  • Larry WB8LBZ:

    Here we go again. The ARRL managed to throw a monkey wrench into the works once before with the incentive licensing. How did that work? I doubt if any decision makers will see this thread. If you want the privileges work on the upgrade. Too many SNOWFLAKES want stuff given to them, WORK FOR IT! I know of Tech Plus, Generals and Advanced that are comfy with where they are. Maybe it is time to make all classes retest to keep what they have. Life is a learning experience. Those that do not or won’t learn should not expect a hand out.

    Larry WB8LBZ
    El Paso, TX

  • I do not know if everyone who has made a comment on this entry will get this reply. I will be posting this reply as a new entry, if it becomes clear that the exposure of this reply is limited.

    It seems to me, that…

    …the issue is not one of Technician-class licensees wanting more privileges, as a whole. What the ARRL is addressing is the *lack* of desire by most current techs to upgrade. The logic concludes that if you give them a taste of lower-shortwave propagation and excitement (by moving past the CW-only restriction on the lower tech allocations), then they *will* want to upgrade. This logic is already proven as applicable by the fact that the General class exists. All this proposal will do is allow the tech to experience what could be very attractive. Just like for the General. If it works, then clean up the mess made with the techs, and make it relevant. It is not dumbing down, nor giving away the farm.

    If anything, it might actually reveal one of two possible truths:

    1. There is no real need for three license classes. Two would suffice. General and Amateur Extra, or Technician (merged with General) and Amateur Extra.

    2. There is no real need for three license classes. One would suffice. Make the test hard enough to cover the Extra-class material, and all material under that class, and merge everyone into one tested class. I believe that this has been tried in other countries, and it appears to work well.

    I’ll be crucified for stating those ideas, but, hey, this is just a hobby.

    I discuss my original point in the two videos that were lower down in the original post:

    + https://youtu.be/ty9HINa3nAg


    + https://youtu.be/83I3EEQxfZA

  • Moe K2JDM:

    I agree with the ARRL about expanding privileges for TECHs onto the lower bands for phone, RTTY, and digital. However, I feel it should only be for a limited time, such as 2 years only. This would give them a taste of the magic bands, but force them to upgrade to be able to further use these bands. This would give more people the incentive to upgrade to General AND get more people interested into radio.

  • Don W8DEA:

    I have listened and read your comments . I disagree . This has been tried before and it didn’t work then . The Tech plus license was grandfathered into generals .Most
    did not upgrade then. Most digital modes operate in the CW portion of the bands anyhow. Why give it away when so many others had to work for the upgraded license .
    That is the whole purpose of having a general license because of the privileges . I
    see this as a plus for the ARRL only. If a tech licensee is really interested in Ham Radio then they should upgrade to general at least . Teach a general class as I have
    and sell the privilege of why then should upgrade not hand it too them.

  • kj4jsn:

    The FCC and ARRL have already screwed up ham radio by making the test so easy now..This will only bring more chicken banders and bad operating habits not to mention the junk they put on the air along with dirty amplifiers. The ARRL is all about making $$$$ and is about as useful to the hobby as tits on a bull…

  • Rick KA2WDV:

    Totally opposed to expand tech privileges. You deleted my post.
    What happened to freedom of speech.
    You must be Democrats
    Now watch me tell the truth on Facebook where you can’t delete it.

    This is about sponsoring people that lack operating skills and ability to upgrade

  • Chuck KD5ACL:

    I’ve read a lot about the good and bad but haven’t heard anything about the date this may happen can someone enlighten me on the possible dates.

Leave a Comment

Subscribe FREE to AmateurRadio.com's
Amateur Radio Newsletter
News, Opinion, Giveaways & More!

Join over 7,000 subscribers!
We never share your e-mail address.

Also available via RSS feed, Twitter, and Facebook.

Subscribe FREE to AmateurRadio.com's
Amateur Radio Newsletter

We never share your e-mail address.

Do you like to write?
Interesting project to share?
Helpful tips and ideas for other hams?

Submit an article and we will review it for publication on AmateurRadio.com!

Are you a reporter covering ham radio?
Find ham radio experts for your story.

How to Set Up a Ham Radio Blog
Get started in less than 15 minutes!

Sign up for our free
Amateur Radio Newsletter

Enter your e-mail address: