ARRL Explores Entry-Level License Options
ARRL Board Explores Entry-Level License Options, Ways to Face Future Challenges
Meeting July 21-22 in Farmington, Connecticut, the ARRL Board of Directors took steps to chart a firmer future for Amateur Radio by enhancing the value of the entry-level license and by providing ongoing support for new licensees. The Board also conferred several annual awards, including the prestigious Hiram Percy Maxim Memorial Award, the League’s top honor for a young radio amateur. ARRL President Rick Roderick, K5UR, chaired the second regular meeting of 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.”
Later in the meeting, the Board charged the ARRL Executive Committee with developing a plan to implement the ad hoc committee’s recommendation to make the current Technician class license more attractive and useful by expanding its operating privileges on HF to include phone and digital modes. The Board asked the Ad Hoc Entry-Level License Committee to further research and develop the details of a second recommendation to improve successful outreach to prospective radio amateurs and help them through the licensing process.