The Conejo Valley Amateur Radio Club is a not-for-profit international organization of amateur radio enthusiasts. We provide education forums, publications and peer interaction opportunities that enhance the knowledge, skill and professional growth of our members.
As you might have heard, or read in the February 28 ARRL website article which I cite here, the ARRL has asked the FCC to expand HF privileges for Technician Class licensees. They have proposed adding limited phone privileges on 75, 40, and 15 meters, plus RTTY and digital mode privileges on 80, 40, 15, and 10 meters.
The ARRL states that, as demographics change and new modes of communications are introduced, adjustments need to be made in order to attract new people to the hobby, retain those who already hold Technician Class licenses, and provide more of an incentive for those Technician Class licensees to pursue higher class licenses and further develop their communications skills.
According to the ARRL, the roughly 378,000 Technician Class licensees make up more than half of the U.S. Amateur Radio population. Nevertheless, bringing new people into the hobby is critical, in part, to improve upon science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. The ARRL told the FCC that it would continue to refine examination preparation and training materials aimed at STEM topics, increase outreach and recruitment, work with Amateur Radio clubs, and encourage educational institutions to utilize Amateur Radio in STEM and other experiential learning programs.
The ARRL said its proposal is critical to developing improved operating skills, increasing emergency communication participation, improving technical self-training, and boosting overall growth in the Amateur Service, which has remained sluggish at about 1% per year.
The ARRL says their Entry-Level License Committee has determined that the current Technician class question pool already covers far more material than necessary for an entry-level exam to validate expanded privileges.
The FCC has not assessed entry-level operating privileges since 2005. The ARRL believes it’s time they do just that. The ARRL describes their proposed changes as “very nominal,” yet there has been much debate about this proposal on social media and elsewhere. Some seem to agree with the ARRL, saying that it merely gives Technicians a taste of HF operations and lessens the gap between the Technician and General Class privileges. It encourages new and younger hams into the hobby. And, being that the hobby tends to skew older, it is critical that we encourage younger people into the hobby. Others are resistant. They’re much more protective of their HF operating privileges, having already obtained at least their General Class license. “If they want more HF access, why don’t they study and upgrade their licenses like I did… Why are they changing the rules?” Perhaps it’s a generational thing. There are those who remember having to learn CW to get licensed, or having to drive to a far-off FCC office to take their tests. I get it. But things change. Is this just the next step that is needed to ensure that amateur radio continues and grows?
Would greater HF privileges for Technicians achieve the desired outcome? Would it bring new people to the hobby? Would it encourage Technicians to upgrade to a General Class? Would it increase activity on the HF bands? Would it make for a better HF experience for all? Would it be a net positive? I know, I have many questions and offer no answers. But with peoples’ changing interests and new technologies, for the sake of our hobby, these are questions that should be considered.
If you have thoughts about this new proposal, you can forward them to me to be included in next month’s newsletter.