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ARRL General Bulletin ARLB096 (1999)

ARLB096 FCC restructures: Three license classes, one code speed

QST de W1AW  
ARRL Bulletin 96  ARLB096
From ARRL Headquarters  
Newington CT  December 30, 1999
To all radio amateurs 

ARLB096 FCC restructures: Three license classes, one code speed

The FCC has issued its long-awaited Report and Order on amateur
licensing 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.

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. The FCC said it may request documentation from a
licensee or VEC to verify whether a licensee has passed a telegraphy

The FCC action also authorizes Advanced Class hams to prepare and
administer General class examinations, and eliminates Radio Amateur
Civil Emergency Service (RACES) station licenses. RACES will remain,

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 Technician exam; Element 3 will be a
35-question General exam; and Element 4 will be a 50-question
Amateur Extra exam. 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.

Elimination of the 13 and 20 WPM Morse requirements means an end to
physician certification waivers for applicants claiming an inability
to pass the Morse code examination due to physical handicap.

The FCC disagreed with the League's suggestion that it undertake a
restructuring of operating privileges along with licensing
restructuring. The Commission said it wanted to give the amateur
community a chance to ''reach a consensus'' regarding new technologies
before it tried to restructure amateur operating privileges and

A copy of the entire Report and Order (FCC 99-412) is available at or at


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