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Old December 17th 06, 12:51 AM posted to rec.radio.scanner
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I know it's off topic, but for some of us, this is news....

Dec 15, 2006 -- In an historic move, the FCC has acted to
drop the Morse code requirement for all Amateur Radio license classes.
The
Commission today adopted a Report and Order (R&O) in WT Docket 05-235.
In a
break from typical practice, the FCC only issued a public notice at or
about
the close of business and not the actual Report & Order, so some
details --
including the effective date of the R&O -- remain uncertain. Also
today, the
FCC also adopted an Order on Reconsideration, in WT Docket 04-140 --
the
"omnibus" proceeding -- agreeing to modify the Amateur Radio rules in
response to an ARRL request to accommodate automatically controlled
narrowband digital stations on 80 meters in the wake of rule changes
that
became effective today at 12:01 AM Eastern Time. The Commission said it
will
carve out the 3585 to 3600 kHz frequency segment for such operations.
Prior
to the long-awaited action on the Morse code issue, Amateur Radio
applicants
for General and higher class licenses had to pass a 5 WPM Morse code
test to
operate on HF. The Commission said today's R&O eliminates that
requirement
for General and Amateur Extra applicants.

"This change eliminates an unnecessary regulatory burden that may
discourage
current Amateur Radio operators from advancing their skills and
participating more fully in the benefits of Amateur Radio," the FCC
said.
The ARRL had asked the FCC to retain the 5 WPM for Amateur Extra class
applicants only. The FCC proposed earlier to drop the requirement
across the
board, however, and it held to that decision in today's R&O.
Perhaps more important, the FCC's action in WT Docket 05-235 appears to
put
all Technician licensees on an equal footing: Once the R&O goes into
effect,
holders of Technician class licenses will have equivalent HF
privileges,
whether or not they've passed the 5 WPM Element 1 Morse examination.
The FCC
said the R&O in the Morse code docket would eliminate a disparity in
the
operating privileges for the Technician and Technician Plus class
licensees.
Technician licensees without Element 1 credit (i.e., Tech Plus licensees)
currently have operating privileges on all amateur frequencies above 30
MHz.

"With today's elimination of the Morse code exam requirements, the FCC
concluded that the disparity between the operating privileges of
Technician
Class licensees and Technician Plus Class licensees should not be
retained,"
the FCC said in its public notice. "Therefore, the FCC, in today's
action,
afforded Technician and Technician Plus licensees identical operating
privileges."

The wholesale elimination of a Morse code requirement for all license
classes ends a longstanding national and international regulatory
tradition
in the requirements to gain access to Amateur Radio frequencies below
30
MHz. The first no-code license in the US was the Technician ticket,
instituted in 1991. The question of whether or not to drop the Morse
requirement altogether has been the subject of often-heated debate over
the
past several years, but the handwriting has been on the wall. A number
of
countries, including Canada, no longer require applicants for an
Amateur
Radio license to pass a Morse code test to gain HF operating
privileges. The
list has been increasing regularly.

The FCC said today's R&O in WT Docket 05-235 comports with revisions to
the
international Radio Regulations resulting from the International
Telecommunication Union (ITU) World Radiocommunication Conference 2003
(WRC-03). At that gathering, delegates agreed to authorize each country
to
determine whether or not to require that applicants demonstrate Morse
code
proficiency in order to qualify for an Amateur Radio license with
privileges
on frequencies below 30 MHz.

Typically, the effective date of an FCC Order is 30 days after it
appears in
the Federal Register. That would mean the Morse requirement and the
revised
80-meter segment for automatically controlled digital stations would
likely
not go into effect until late January 2007.

The ARRL will provide any additional information on these important
Part 97
rule revisions as it becomes available.



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