QST de W1AW
ARRL Bulletin 3 ARLB003
From ARRL Headquarters
Newington CT January 20, 2004
To all radio amateurs
SB QST ARL ARLB003
ARLB003 ARRL to Propose New Entry-Level License, Code-Free HF Access
The ARRL will ask the FCC to create a new entry-level Amateur Radio
license that would include HF phone privileges without requiring a
Morse code test. The League also will propose consolidating all
current licensees into three classes, retaining the Element 1 Morse
requirement–now 5 WPM-only for the highest class. The ARRL Board of
Directors overwhelmingly approved the plan January 16 during its
Annual Meeting in Windsor, Connecticut. The proposals–developed by
the ARRL Executive Committee following a Board instruction last
July–are in response to changes made in Article 25 of the
international Radio Regulations at World Radiocommunication
Conference 2003 (WRC-03).
streamlining the amateur licensing structure that the FCC began more
than five years ago but left unfinished in the Amateur Service
license restructuring Report and Order (WT 98-143) that went into
effect April 15, 2000.
”Change in the Amateur Radio Service in the US, especially license
requirements and even more so when Morse is involved, has always
been emotional,” said ARRL First Vice President Joel Harrison, W5ZN,
in presenting the Executive Committee’s recommendations. ”In fact,
without a doubt, Morse is Amateur Radio’s ‘religious debate.”’
The entry-level license class–being called ”Novice” for now–would
require a 25-question written exam. It would offer limited HF
CW/data and phone/image privileges on 80, 40, 15 and 10 meters as
well as VHF and UHF privileges on 6 and 2 meters and on 222-225 and
430-450 MHz. Power output would be restricted to 100 W on 80, 40,
and 15 meters and to 50 W on 10 meters and up.
”The Board sought to achieve balance in giving new Novice licensees
the opportunity to sample a wider range of Amateur Radio activity
than is available to current Technicians while retaining a
motivation to upgrade,” said ARRL CEO David Sumner, K1ZZ. Under the
ARRL plan, current Novice licensees–now the smallest and least
active group of radio amateurs–would be grandfathered to the new
entry-level class without further testing.
The middle group of licensees–Technician, Tech Plus (Technician
with Element 1 credit) and General–would be merged into a new
General license that also would not require a Morse examination.
Current Technician and Tech Plus license holders automatically would
gain current General class privileges without additional testing.
The current Element 3 General examination would remain in place for
The Board indicated that it saw no compelling reason to change the
Amateur Extra class license requirements. The ARRL plan calls on the
FCC to combine the current Advanced and Amateur Extra class
licensees into Amateur Extra, because the technical level of the
exams passed by these licensees is very similar. New applicants for
Extra would have to pass a 5 WPM Morse code examination, but the
written exam would stay the same. Sumner said the Board felt that
the highest level of accomplishment should include basic Morse
capability. Current Novice, Tech Plus and General licensees would
receive lifetime 5 WPM Morse credit.
”This structure provides a true entry-level license with HF
privileges to promote growth in the Amateur Service,” Harrison said.
Among other advantages, Sumner said the plan would allow new Novices
to participate in HF SSB emergency nets on 75 and 40 meters as well
as on the top 100 kHz of 15 meters. The new license also could get
another name, Sumner said. ”We’re trying to recapture the magic of
the old Novice license, but in a manner that’s appropriate for the
The overall proposed ARRL license restructuring plan would more
smoothly integrate HF spectrum privileges across the three license
classes and would incorporate the ”Novice refarming” plan the League
put forth nearly two years ago in a Petition for Rule Making
(RM-10413). The FCC has not yet acted on the ARRL plan, which would
alter current HF subbands.
The ARRL license restructuring design calls for no changes in
privileges for Extra and General class licensees on 160, 60, 30, 20,
17 or 12 meters. Novice licensees would have no access to those
See ”ARRL to Propose New Entry-Level License, Code-Free HF Access”
on the ARRL Web site, www.arrl.org/news/stories/2004/01/19/1/, for
the specific subband allocations ARRL is proposing for each class.