ARRL Appoints Panel to Study Ham Radio License Requirements

Is it really too difficult these days to become a ham radio operator?

An ARRL Board of Directors-appointed ad hoc committee will study the current Technician license exam requirements and recommend possible changes, which may eventually find their way into an FCC petition for rule making. These could include consideration of a new entry-level license class. The panel’s recommendations to the Board would be aimed at developing “a more targeted examination with a more limited set of privileges that would attract a new generation of amateurs.”
At the ARRL Board of Directors July meeting (from left to right): Second Vice President Brian Mileshosky, N5ZGT; First Vice President Greg Widin, K0GW; President Rick Roderick, K5UR, and CEO Tom Gallagher, NY2RF. [Sean Kutzko, KX9X, photo]

The motion at the July 15-16 Board meeting by New England Division Director Tom Frenaye, K1KI, noted that the Novice license was discontinued in 2000, and the Morse code requirement lifted from all licenses a few years later, with the Technician ticket becoming the new entry point into Amateur Radio. It also cited “a considerable increase in difficulty for the new entry point” and new licensees who have been granted “extensive privileges not appropriate for all newcomers.”

“[W]e need to improve upon our efforts to attract newcomers to Amateur Radio and pass along the tradition of emergency and communication support, developing interest in hands-on projects, and improving on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education,” the motion asserted.

Original story credit:  The ARRL Letter and The American Radio Relay League)


The ARRL cites “…a considerable increase in difficulty for the new entry point…”

Really? The current Technician question pool is difficult? REALLY? A moderately trained chimp could throw enough darts at a test to pass with flying colors. And there is NO code requirement!

Having had to re-license recently after decades of being off the air, I couldn’t disagree with the ARRL more. Back in the 60s beginning at age 13,  I went from Novice to General to Advanced to Extra. Novice + 5 WPM CW was easy. General + 13 required some dedication and study. Advanced and Extra required significant learning commitments.

These days the Technician, General and Extra tests have been dumbed down so much in contrast to the tests from the old days — and the lack of CW requirements makes it worse. Why? On any given day tune around the SSB portion of any HF band. Sounds like a CB heyday in the 1970s. We opened the gate and they came. And came.

I have news for the ARRL. Ham radio was never intended to be easy. We shouldn’t be trying to attract everyone. Of course we need to attract newcomers — but the right newcomers. We shouldn’t be appealing to the CBer type of miscreants. But we do. And now the ARRL wants to make it even easier. Wonder if their approach has anything to do with potentially increasing ARRL $$$ membership? Hmmm?

–Just my 2 cents…

/end op-ed