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Old July 31st 03, 12:43 AM
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Default NCVEC NPRM for elimination of horse and buggy morse code requirement.

Before the
Washington, D.C. 20554

In the Matter of )
Amendment of Part 97 of the Commission's ) RM-
Amateur Service Rules to Eliminate )
Morse code testing )

To: The Commission


The National Conference of Volunteer Examiner Coordinators (NCVEC) is
the umbrella organization comprised of the fourteen organizations
charged since 1984, under Section 97.519(a) of the rules of the Federal
Communications Commission, 47 CFR 97.519(a) to develop and administer
all Amateur Radio operator license testing and to electronically file
all successful license applications with the FCC. In total, the VECs
and their more than 30,000 VE teams have collectively administered
nearly two million examinations during the past twenty years and have
notified the FCC to issue approximately a million new and upgraded
Amateur Radio licenses.

Once a year, the various Volunteer Examiner Coordinator organizations
meet at their annual conference to discuss the various issues that
impact Amateur Radio operator testing. At their July 25, 2003, meeting
held with the FCC in Gettysburg, PA, the VECs overwhelmingly agreed
that Morse code testing should be immediately ended since it was now
possible to do so. It was also noted that countries have already begun
discontinuing Morse examinations. As a result the VECs voted to file
this Petition asking that the FCC take expedited action to allow them
to discontinue administering Element 1, the 5 words-per-minute
telegraphy examination as soon as possible.

Pursuant to Section 1.405 of the Commission's procedural rules (47
C.F.R. 1.405), the NCVEC hereby respectfully requests that the
Commission issue a Notice of Proposed Rule Making at an early date
looking toward amendment of the rules governing the Amateur Radio
Service, 47 C.F.R. 97.1 et seq., as set forth herein and in the
attached Appendix.

The rule changes requested herein would terminate the telegraphy
examination requirement and permit existing Technician Class operators
to access HF spectrum as provided in 47 C.F.R.  97.301(e) without the
necessity of passing a Morse code examination. This request to
eliminate the Morse code (Element 1) examination does not necessarily
have the support of the ARRL Board since they have yet to develop a
position on the matter. In support of its petition, NCVEC states as

I. Introduction and Background

Since the turn of the century, the Morse code, invented by American
Samuel Morse and first used in 1844, has been the foundation of early
distress and safety communications. Although Morse code (or CW, as it
is commonly called) was the primary mode of communications from the
late 19th Century through the early 20th Century, it has all but become
obsolete in practically all other contemporary communication systems.
Due to the emergence of satellite and digital communications, manual
telegraphy is no longer used or required in any radio service other
than in the Amateur Service.

Radiotelegraphy in the maritime service has been phased out in favor of
modern technology. The last vestige of manual telegraphy began being
phased out in the maritime service in 1988 when the International
Maritime Organization adopted the Global Maritime Distress and Safety
System (GMDSS).

In the 1990's, countries around the world began closing down their
distress 500 kHz calling frequency watch which had been in use since
1912. The final 500 kHz message sent by the U.S. Coast Guard took
place from station NMN (Chesapeake Virginia) on April 1, 1995, and they
no longer monitor the frequency.

Even though the commercial world eliminated Morse code as a
communications medium many years ago, it has continued on the Amateur
bands because manual Morse proficiency was an international Amateur
Service requirement when operating on spectrum under 30 MHz.

II. Telegraphy requirement in the Amateur Service

There are many communications modes and emissions available to the
radio amateur and manual CW is just another one that certainly deserves
no special priority. The amateur radio operator examination process
does not require a practical demonstration in the ability to use any
other mode - even though more than a thousand modes and emissions are
available to the Amateur Service.

The international law previously required unspecified proficiency in
the International Morse code when the operation takes place in the
medium or high frequency bands. Because of technological advances,
this regulation has become inconsistent with the goals of the Amateur
Service since it provides a barrier to otherwise qualified individuals
who wish to experiment and communicate below 30 MHz. There can be no
doubt that the Morse code proficiency requirements have constituted an
unnecessary and artificial impediment to fuller use of the Amateur
Radio Service for many potential and existing amateurs.

It appears that the reason that many (no-code) Technician amateurs are
not upgrading to license classes that require telegraphy suggests that
the Morse code requirement may be a significant barrier.

III. Morse code testing is a burden to the applicant

It should be noted that while today's personal computers can easily
send and receive telegraphy, the international Morse code "sent by hand
and received by ear" requirement continued as a worldwide fundamental
requirement for an amateur operator license until the recent actions by
the International Telecommunications Union.

The taking of the telegraphy examination is an unnecessary burden upon
the applicant. Experience has shown that it is more often than not a
very stressful experience for the examinee. With the elimination of
the international requirement for skill in manual telegraphy, there is
no longer any reasonable justification for requiring an applicant to
demonstrate this antiquated skill.

It is one that must be acquired through rote memorization of the
character meanings of some 43 combinations of audible dots and dashes:
26 letters of the alphabet, numerals 0 through 9, four punctuation
marks and three characters unique to CW. This must be followed by
numerous practice sessions until the necessary skill is achieved. Most
applicants, once they pass the code exam, never use the mode on the
amateur airwaves. And many, perhaps most, could not pass it again if
required to do so.

While it continues to serve some amateur operators well, as it did in
the early days of radio, it is now but one of many modes available to
amateur operators. The lack of interest in CW has turned many
prospective amateur operators away from the Amateur Service.

Morse proficiency is not an indication of a quality operator

Some amateurs believe that the effort and sacrifice needed to learn
Morse code indicates a more dedicated and, therefore, a better
candidate for Amateur Radio. No evidence exists, however, that
supports a relationship between manual telegraphy proficiency and the
quality, desirability or motivation of the operator.

What the Morse code licensing requirement does do, however, is to
greatly reduce the number of applicants operating in the medium and
high frequencies. Many people question why an individual with vast
knowledge in the electronics field should be excluded from operating on
HF spectrum due to a personal disinterest in the Morse code.

Continuing the use of Morse code proficiency as a means with which to
gauge "quality" or to limit the number of amateur radio operators
accessing public spectrum is certainly at odds with the FCC's mandate
to promote the wider use of radio and its commitment to the use of
emerging technologies.

V. Morse proficiency should not be required to operate in the voice mode

It appears that most amateurs want to communicate in the voice mode.
It makes no sense from a regulatory perspective to require radio
amateurs to be Morse proficient when the greater majority of radio
amateurs do not desire to use that mode and there is no regulatory
reason for them to do so.

The future of Amateur Radio encompasses many modes undreamed of just a
few years ago. Although manual telegraphy is a noble part of the
Amateur Radio's past, it is no longer the prime emission mode.

In short, the Commission should ensure that the amateur examination
elements are appropriate for the types of operation that will be
performed by the licensee.

VI. An unnecessary burden upon the VEC system

The administration of a CW examination imposes an unnecessary burden
upon the VE teams who must prepare and administer the CW examinations.
It requires extensive preparation and special equipment to prepare and
administer properly. It is often disruptive and unsettling to those
other examinees who are taking one of the written examinations within
the same room.

Under  97.507(d), the VEs must prepare and record a series of messages
sufficient to preclude any one message from becoming known to the
examinees. Each message must contain every one of the 43 telegraphy
characters at least once during period of at least 5 minutes. At the
prescribed speed of 5 words per minute, and at the prescribed 5
characters per word, the message is little more than 25 words in
length. In practice, it is a difficult task to compose a realistic
message under these limitations. It is also an unnecessary burden upon
the coordinating VECs since most of them also prepare telegraphy
examinations for their VE teams.

VII. An unnecessary burden upon the amateur service community

The amateur service community suffers from the loss to its ranks of a
large number of potentially excellent operators who are turned away
because of the CW requirement. Either because of lack of the requisite
aptitude for sending and receiving CW or because of an unwillingness to
spend the time acquiring a skill for which they find of no value to
them, they forego becoming amateur operators.

VIII. An unnecessary burden upon the FCC

Now that the international (treaty) Morse code requirement is optional,
the FCC can expect to receive numerous requests for waivers of the
Morse code examination due to applicant hearing and other medical
conditions in order to be compliant with the Americans with
Disabilities Act (ADA).

When there were multiple code tests, the FCC cited the international
(treaty) requirement, as the reason that the five word-per-minute code
test could not be waived. This case no longer applies and the FCC will
have to develop procedures to guide both themselves and the VECs/VEs in
handling requests for code exam waivers that are certain to come.

Dealing with requests for a waiver of the code exam could create an
unnecessary burden on the FCC and VECs/VEs and consume an excessive
amount of time and resources. It seems illogical to require all
amateur examinees to pass a requirement that could be waived by the
actions of a physician. History has shown that physician-initiated
waiver requests have been very controversial in the Amateur Service.

IX. World Administrative Radio Conference 2003

The only changes made to the international Amateur Service regulations
over the last 75 years concern the frequency above which amateurs may
operate without Morse testing. At their Washington, DC conference in
1927, the ITU (then called the International Telegraph Union) allocated
frequency bands to the various radio services and established operating
guidelines and operator qualifications. It was deemed important that
Amateurs prove an ability to transmit and receive communications in
Morse signals since, at the time, radiotelegraphy was the primary means
of long range communication.

Since then, the administrations comprising International
Telecommunication Union have reviewed and voted to relax the Amateur
Service's mandatory Morse proficiency requirement at every
international conference capable of doing so.

In 1947 (Atlantic City), the ITU agreed that Morse proficiency should
only be required when the operation took place on frequencies below
1000 MHz (1 GHz.) At WARC-59, the 1959 World Administrative Radio
Conference, this level dropped to 144 MHz. A further reduction was
made at WARC-79 to 30 MHz. Consequently, up until recently, Article
S25.5 3 read: 25.5  3. 1) Any person seeking a license to
operate the apparatus of an amateur station shall prove that he is able
to send correctly by hand and to receive correctly by ear, texts in
Morse code signals. The administrations concerned may, however, waive
this requirement in the case of stations making use exclusively of
frequencies above 30 MHz.

At WRC-2003, the international Radio Regulation Article S25.5  3 was
revised to make the Morse code testing requirement a matter for each
licensing administration to decide for itself. Effective July 5, 2003,
Article S25.5 3 reads: 25.5  3. 1) Administrations shall
determine whether or not a person seeking a license to operate an
amateur station shall demonstrate the ability to send and receive texts
in Morse code signals.

X. Summary of NCVEC proposal to end Morse testing

The attached appendix contains a list of the rules that must be amended
if Morse code examinations are to be discontinued. These amendments
propose merely to end the manual telegraphy examination and to permit
Technician Class operators the same frequency privileges as those
enjoyed by Technician Class operators who have passed a code exam.

Therefore, the foregoing considered, NCVEC, the National Conference of
Volunteer Examiner Coordinators, respectfully requests that the
Commission issue a Notice of Proposed Rule Making at any early date,
proposing the rule changes set forth herein, and in the appendix
attached hereto.

Respectfully submitted,

NCVEC, National Conference of VECs
P.O. Box 565101, Dallas, Texas 75356

Frederick O. Maia, W5YI, Chairman,
NCVEC Rules Committee

July 29, 2003



Proposed changes to Part 97 of Chapter I of Title 47 of the Code of
Federal Regulations to delete references to the Morse code exam
element. Part 97, is amended as follows:


1. Section 97.301 is amended by revising paragraph (e) to read as
follows. The frequency tables in Section 97.301(a), (b), , (d) and
(e) remain unchanged.

97.301 Authorized frequency bands.

The following transmitting frequency bands are available to an amateur
station located within 50 km of the Earth's surface, within the
specified ITU Region, and outside any area where the amateur service is
regulated by any authority other than the FCC.
(d) ******
(e) For a station having a control operator who has been granted an
operator license of Novice Class, Technician Class or Technician Plus

Wavelength ITU Region 1 ITU Region 2 ITU Region 3 Sharing
see  97.303

HF MHz MHz MHz paragraph:

80 m 3.675-3.725 3.675-3.725 3.675-3.725 (a)
40 m 7.050-7.075 7.10-7.15 7.050-7.075 (a)
15 m 21.10-21.20 21.10-21.20 21.10-21.20
10 m 28.1-28.5 28.1-28.5 28.1-28.5

1.25 m - - 222-225 - - (a)

23 cm 1270-1295 1270-1295 1270-1295 (h)(i)

2. Section 97.307 is amended by deleting paragraph (f)(9) and revising
paragraph (f)(10) to read as follows. Previous  97.307(f)(10) is
renumbered to (f)(9). Paragraphs (f)(11) to (f)(13) are renumbered to
(f)(10) to (f)(12).

 97.307 Emission standards.

(f) The following standards and limitations apply to transmissions on
the frequencies specified in 97.305 of this part. (10) A
station having a control operator holding a Novice Class, Technician
Class or Technician Plus operator license may only transmit a CW
emission using the international Morse code or phone emissions J3E and

3. Section 97.313 is amended by revising paragraph (2) to read as follows:

97.313 Transmitter power standards.

(b) ******
No station may transmit with a transmitter power exceeding 200 W PEP on:
(1) ******
(2) The 28.1-28.5 MHz segment when the control operator is a Novice Class
operator, a
Technician Class operator or a Technician Plus Class; or
(3) ******

4. Section 97.501 is amended by revising paragraph (a) and (b) to read as

97.501 Qualifying for an amateur operator license.

Each applicant must pass an examination for a new amateur operator license
grant and for each change in
operator class. Each applicant for the class of operator license grant
specified below must pass, or
otherwise receive examination credit for, the following examination elements:
(a) Amateur Extra Class operator: Elements 2, 3, and 4;
(b) General Class operator: Elements 2, and 3;

5. Section 97.503 is amended by deleting paragraph (a).

97.503 Element standards.

(b) ******

6. Section 97.505 is amended by revising paragraph (a)(1), (a)(2), and (a)(3)
to read as follows.
Paragraphs (a)(5), (a)(7), and (a)(9) are deleted.

97.505 Element credit.

(a) The administering VEs must give credit as specified below to an examinee
holding any of the
following license grants or license documents:
(1) An unexpired (or expired but within the grace period for renewal)
Advanced Class operator license grant: Elements 2 and 3.
(2) An unexpired (or expired but within the grace period for renewal)
FCC-granted General
Class operator license grant: Elements 2 and 3.
(3) An unexpired (or expired but within the grace period for renewal)
Technician Plus Class operator license grant: Element 2
(4) ******
(6) ******
(8) ******
(b) ******

7. Section 97.507 is amended by revising paragraph (a), (a)(2), and to read
as follows. Paragraph (d)
is deleted.

97.507 Preparing an examination.

(a) Each written question set administered to an examinee must be prepared by a
VE holding an
Amateur Extra Class operator license. A written question set may also be
prepared for the following
elements by a VE holding an operator license of the class indicated:
(1) ******
(2) Element 2: Advanced, General, or Technician (including Technician Plus)
(b) *******
Each written question set administered to an examinee for an amateur operator
license must be
prepared, or obtained from a supplier, by the administering VEs according to
instructions from the
coordinating VEC.

8. Section 97.509 is amended by revising paragraph (f) to read as follows.
Paragraph (g) is deleted.

97.509 Administering VE requirements.

(e) ******
(f) No examination that has been compromised shall be administered to any
examinee. The same
question set may not be re-administered to the same examinee.
(h) ******

The following organizations have entered into an agreement with the FCC
to coordinate Amateur Radio examinations: Anchorage Amateur Radio Club,
Anchorage, AK; American Radio Relay League (ARRL), Newington, CT;
CAVEC, Inc., Huntsville, AL; Golden Empire Amateur Radio Society,
Chico, CA; Greater L.A. Amateur Radio Group, North Hills, CA; Jefferson
Amateur Radio Club, New Orleans, LA; Laurel Amateur Radio Club, Inc.;
Laurel, MD; The Milwaukee Radio Amateurs' Club, Inc., Milwaukee, WI;
MO-KAN VEC Coordinator, Richmond, KS; Sandarc-VEC, La Mesa, CA;
Sunnyvale VEC Amateur Radio Club, Inc., Sunnyvale, CA; W4VEC, High
Point, NC; W5YI-VEC, Dallas, TX; Western Carolina Amateur Radio Society
VEC, Inc., Knoxville, TN.

The United Kingdom's Regulatory Authority
published a "Gazette Notice" on July 25, 2003, discontinuing all Morse
code testing in their Amateur Service effective July 26, 2003. The
effect was that all "Class B" (no code) radio amateurs in Great Britain
who previously were restricted to operation above 30 MHz obtained
"Class A" access to all Amateur bands. This can be confirmed at the
Radio Society of Great Britain's website at:
and/or the UK "Regulatory Authority" (their telecom regulator) website
at: . In addition, effective July 15, 2003,
radio amateurs in Switzerland were given immediate "provisional"
authority to operate on the HF amateur bands by the Swiss Federal
Office of Communications (OFCOM) while they await formal rulemaking.
Citing the recent WRC-03 decision, OFCOM said the temporary permission
to use the HF bands would suffice until the regulation could be
changed. Many other countries are rumored to be in the process of
discontinuing Morse code testing.
See 47 C.F.R.  503(a.)
The Radio Page Ham, Police Scanner, Shortwave and more.

  #2   Report Post  
Old July 31st 03, 03:46 AM
Chic N Pox
Posts: n/a

"N2EY" wrote in message
It's not an NPRM. It's a petition.

yeah- yeah...I've been in ham radio since
the late 60's and supported the ending of code
in the 80's when it would have done some good.

Still! Un-be-freaking-lievable!

They are still arguing the same ages-old debate
of if to keep stupid damm old code!

Good lord Glub all-purpose....will this debate EVER end????

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