A New License Class, Really?!

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Do we really need a new license class? I am mean really! We use to have one: remember the Novice, Tech +, and Advanced class licenses? We got rid of those to help simplify things, now there is talks about adding a new one lower than Technician. My other question is, where did this idea come from in the first place. It is not that hard to pass a technician test! It is 25 questions that are relatively easy, all it takes is a little studying.

Do they want it to be soooo easy that anyone can get their license with any kind of commitment?

Here is what the ARRL says about this question on July 31, 2017:

ARRL New England Division Director Tom Frenaye, K1KI, presented the report of the Ad Hoc Entry-Level License Committee. He said the committee’s initial, informal survey attracted nearly 7,900 responses. A second random survey drew another 375 responses. “A clear majority favored a revision to the Technician rather than a new entry-level license,” the committee’s report said, noting that this would require no change to the Technician examination, which already covers more material than necessary for an entry-level examination. “This choice requires the simplest revision to FCC rules,” the committee report said. The committee suggested expanded digital access on 80, 40, and 15 meters, where Technicians already have CW access, as well as the addition of Technician phone privileges on those bands. Frenaye pointed out that while the Amateur Radio population is growing, the annual rate of growth has stagnated at about 1%. “There is a general consensus…that ‘something needs to happen,’” the committee’s report said, noting a generally favorable attitude toward attracting newcomers.

“The general goal here is to have an entry level license that offers a way for a newcomer to experience multiple facets of Amateur Radio,” the committee’s report said, “encouraging them to get on the air, meet other licensees, and engage in a lifetime of learning while using Amateur Radio.”

So it would seem that if the almost 8300 responses to a survey that they sent out, which I never got, others feel the same way that I do. I can also say that I agree that some privileges could change to help growth.

Digital access on the HF bands that technicians have cw access on is a good idea. Since cw isn't required anymore, Ham Radio operators are learning the code because they want to not because they have to, so why not throw in some digital modes areas that they have access to.

Some might argue this point by saying that the cw areas for technicians would, in theory, give them a “want” to learn code to get on HF. My thinking is though, why not give them something that they can do without having to learn something else to get them on the HF bands. Once they are there, then maybe they will WANT to learn the code.

I might even agree with a small portion of voice on some HF bands. I mean, after all, a novice had HF voice privaledges way back when as did a tech+. Granted each of those classes required you to pass a 5 wpm code, but again, code isn't required for any level of license.

A little later, the article said:

The committee began with the premise that ARRL must act in order to remain relevant going forward. It proposed instituting a Lifelong Learning Program to focus on developing a clear developmental path for all radio amateurs, from newcomers to established radio amateurs. The committee recommended the creation of new programs and services to increase the knowledge base of newcomers in order to get them active, as well as programs to keep experienced amateurs up to date with changing technology and practice.

Now this part, I can totally get behind. I totally agree that this hobby needs a continuing education part. Now I'm not saying that you need to do X amount of hours a year to maintain your license or anything like that.

What I'm saying is that, there needs to be something, some kind of classes, that an amateur can take after they get their license. One of the reasons that I say that is because I hear of a lot of people taking classes where just the test is taught, more or less, or teach the student just enough to pass and then what do they do?

If they are involved in a good club, a club that has lots of experience people in it that are willing to take on the elmering role, then they will more than likely stay in the hobby and thrive. However, if they aren't, or maybe the club isn't as active in Elmer I guess, then what do they do.

With anything that you do, most of the time you don't know what you don't know, so it's hard to pick a part of a thing and learn about it. His part is typically left at the local level, but as a hobby wide content producer, I say, “ARRL, please do this! Make some CE training that anyone can take, not just ARRL members”

What are yall’s thoughts about the talks on making a new entry level License class? Should the FCC make one, revamp the technician class or keep it just how it is? Leave your answer in the comments below.

As always, I would like to thank all of my readers that read my blog and listen to my podcast. It is because of each and every one of you that I continue to do this!

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That pretty much wraps it up for today, so until next time!

73 de Curtis, K5CLM

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  • I’d like to see the discussion. I really hated to loose the Novice. The Tech has never been a good entry license for young people. We need a license that actually introduces them to the hobby. All aspects, not just vhf/uhf. It’s great that there are cheap radios for new hams, but these won’t hold the newcomers interest very long. Especially in areas where repeater use has declined. New licensees need to smell smoke, turn knobs, string wire, learn the magic of dx.
    I’m not for dumbing down anything, but we need a “maker” type entry class for kids. Or at least, that’s one old ham’s opinionšŸ˜œ

  • Shawn_McClintock

    I worked CW with my Tech ticket on HF, it provided the desire to upgrade to General, and now Extra in order to have the ability to work Digital modes. I work CW still since I’ve found software to help me overcome my hearing difficulties, and find it a fun mode even though its no longer a requirement. We do not need to relax the Technician class, its a super simple exam, the General isn’t at all difficult neither, and staying with what we have now would promote the Techs to advance on their own.
    Just my 2 cent QST,
    Shawn
    AD0ND