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Changes Coming to the Technician License? – Ham Radio Q&A

Changes Coming to the Technician License? – Ham Radio Q&A

– Today on Ham Radio Q&A: Are changes in store for
the technician license? Well please keep watching for more. (upbeat rock music) Hi I’m Michael, KB9VBR,
your host for Ham Radio Q&A. I’m on a mission to inspire and educate the amateur radio community, so if this is your first time watching, please consider hitting
that subscribe button. You may have seen an article
recently from the ARRL concerning a technician
license enhancement proposal. On February 28th, the league submitted a Petition for Rule Making to the FCC to expand HF privileges for
technician license holders to include limited phone
and data privileges on 80, 40, and 15 meters. This is an addition to the
current phone privileges on the 10-meter band. These recommendations
stemmed from the ARRL Board of Directors Entry
Level License Committee which explored various initiatives and options in 2016 and 2017. The petition is currently
open for public comment and you can submit your
comments and opinions until April 13th, 2019. I’ll provide a link to
the FCC comment section in the description below. But for now I’m gonna
unpack this petition a bit and give you my opinion on if
this is a good idea or not. Basically, the ARRL
states that this action will enhance the available
license operating privileges in what has become the principal entry-level license class
in the amateur service. In the introductory
statement of the petition, the ARRL outlines three things
that the rule making will do. It will attract new
amateur radio operators; it will result in increased
retention of licensees who hold technician class licenses; and it will provide an improved incentive for entry-level licensees to increase technical self-training and pursue higher
license class achievement and development of communications skills. This proposal is, in ARRL’s view, critical to developing improved
operating capabilities, increasing emergency
communications participation, improving technical self-training, and increasing growth overall
in the amateur radio service. Let’s look at these three statements. First off, attract
newcomers to amateur radio. Since 2011, growth of
the amateur radio service has been fairly modest at about 1%. While this is still positive growth, it is thought that this growth trend will not be able to
counteract the future losses as older hams continue to age
out of the amateur service. Higher levels of attrition are concerning as younger people are
more likely to gravitate towards other digital
technologies than amateur radio. Conversely, there has also
been a significant focus on STEM education and the increasing rise of the do it yourself maker movement. Both of these fit well with amateur radio and the petition argues that
the current entry level license does not include the
right mix of privileges to attract newcomers, nor do those entry level
operating privileges contribute to socialization
of those holding higher license class licenses. Second, the petition will
result in increased retention of technician license class holders. In the petition, the ARRL noted that substantial increase
of new radio operators occurred at the creation of
the technician class license without morse code requirement which was more than 30 years ago. But in the time since this change, we have also seen a larger segregation of technicians primarily to FM repeaters and VHF communication. This led to a stagnation and disinterest of hams renewing their license, which is evident in the significant drop of licensed amateurs in the late 1990s. The FCC did eliminate morse code testing as a requirement in 2006
and gave technicians limited operating
privileges in the HF bands by allowing them into the
novice license allocations. But the league believes that this was not a big enough carrot to entice technicians onto the HF bands. So they argue that since techs don’t have much incentive to be on HF, they are less likely to
upgrade to a general class and will instead find interest in other avocational activities. And the third point, it will
provide an improved incentive for entry level licensees to increase technical self-training and pursue higher class achievement and development of communication skills. The league argues that the general goal is to have an entry level license that offers a way for newcomers to experience multiple
facets of amateur radio, encouraging them to get on the air, communicate with other
level license holders, and engage in a lifetime of learning while using amateur radio. They conclude that since
the current technician exam contains far more
material than is necessary for an entry level examination, that the license should be aligned with the testing material, opening up phone and data
privileges for technicians. This will make the entry
level license class more relevant to the needs and interests of technically inclined younger people. So, is this a good thing or not? Well, I think you may see in
breaking down the petition like this how this can be
a benefit to amateur radio. I did skim through the
public comments a bit left for the petition
and I saw mixed support. I would say that probably
about 60% in favor, but those opposed to it are
really strongly opposed. I will admit that when
this was first announced, I was kind of on the fence,
but after further analysis I kinda find this petition
to be a good thing and here’s why. In my opinion, the technician level exam has had too much content that is geared towards HF operation. We are testing techs on
frequency allocations, HF modes, and transceiver controls; and they have no meaningful
outlet or utility for them. Yes, 10 meters is available for phone, but look at the long term and you realize that the
solar cycle makes 10 meters more challenging than welcoming for the technician level ham. Giving technicians limited
phone and data access to the 15, 40, and 80 meter bands lets them put their
knowledge to use right away, without having them to take the extra step of upgrading to general. They will be mixing on the air with higher license class operators that can be a role model
and mentor to them. It also opens up more features
and facets of amateur radio to those that are just starting out, which will have the side benefit
of keeping them interested in the service hopefully for a lifetime. Also, expanding privileges in one class does not devalue your license. Generals and extras have more access and allocations than technicians have. Plus you now have the enviable
role of being a mentor, by modeling good operation
and amateur practice on the HF bands. Interacting with a tech
on the FM repeaters won’t get them to HF, but communicating with
them on 40 and 80 meters will give them incentive
to want to upgrade. And let’s face it, HF is the
heart and soul of amateur radio and getting more hams active on HF invests them into the amateur
radio for the long haul. But the bottom line is, will this petition for
rule making succeed? Will the FCC grant more HF privileges in the phone and data bands for technician license class holders? I don’t have a crystal ball,
so I really can’t tell you. The ARRL often floats petitions like this, and the commission treats them
more like policy documents than actionable items, so it could be years before the FCC gets around to making a
significant change like this. But it’s also been over 10
years since the license classes were restructured, so
really anything can happen. So what are your opinions on
this petition for rule making? Is the ARRL going too far, or is it a welcome change to
the amateur radio service? I’d love to hear your
comments and thoughts, so please leave them down below. And if you wish to make your
thoughts known to the FCC, public comment on this matter is still open until
about April 13th, 2019. For more articles and information, be sure to check out my blog
at Your support of this channel drives the production of future videos. So if you like this video, please give me a big thumbs up and check out some of the other videos that are recommended right alongside here. And if you haven’t already done so, press that subscribe button to be notified when future videos are released. Well that’s it for this time, I’m Michael, KB9VBR,
have a great day and 73.

23 comments on “Changes Coming to the Technician License? – Ham Radio Q&A

  1. I think there should only be one test and one class that provides access to the entirety of bands. in the unlikely event that somehow this would create chaos and violations, the FCC should just do their job and start enforcing rules/laws

  2. There are plenty of other options outside of Amateur radio attracting our younger people. Ham radio old-timers need to keep up with what people want today.

  3. HF is ALOT more interesting than vhf-uhf, local repeaters are nothing but check in nets and very little rag chews…I see alot of new comers only stick around a few months before they get bored with it…I tell new people to head straight to HF, alot more variety and activity so yeah open up techs to get their feet wet in HF

  4. Just watched this on June 21, 2019. I did write to FCC before April dead line to open up to TECH's. the HF bands. I was a novice for years, then a Tech+Plus (You still had to know code) but I focused my ham work of 28.400 voice for tech. NO sun spots for some time now. So I am now a general, N3YUW. My grand daughter KC3NQL 10 years old passed the test of over 400 questions, and yes I agree with you, the new pool is still highly HF related. So unless you know Morse Code. your SOOL. So now I am looking on YOUTUBE for a way for younger hams to connect… Way to go. 73's to your work on this youtube channel.

  5. I’ve had my tech since 2013 and never bothered to upgrade. Kinda fell out of the hobby even though I do belong to a club. I just heard about this proposal the other day. I don’t know how I really feel on this but I’m getting ready to start upgrading to general regardless.

  6. Good stuff and a bit of a surprise. I got my technician amateur radio license over 5 years ago and I must say. I never did squat with it. Alot of this had to do with its limitations. A lot has to do with just losing interest. Not willing to invest on a radio. A lot has to do with internet, messenger, Whatsapp on phones. Who needs this? Its kind of absolute. I really wanted the General but that test kicked me in the butt. I settled for Technician and MROP. I really enjoyed short wave listening when I shipped around, even before that. I was also a Field Radio Operator in the Marines. I work as a aircraft technician. I think expanding priveledges for a technicians license might make me give this a second look. Good stuff and thanks.

  7. I got my Technician License a couple of years ago. Bought a nice Kenwood TM-281A and got it set up at home. I listen a lot but in two years I think I have been "on" it twice. It's more than a bit boring. I have thought of upgrading to a General Class but the testing is 80 miles away and in a rotten part of town. The local club seemed to be less than friendly. Just doesn't seem worth the bother. I don't know. Have to think hard about it.

  8. There shouldn't be any license classes AT ALL. Just one license for everything, so that EVERY ham has Extra class privileges! Just call it a ham license and be done with it. Problem solved!

  9. I'm going to take the technician test this week. Thank you for your video. Unlike many other Ham operators with higher class licenses, you have inspired me to continue. I'm taking a "ground up" approach and will continue to study and learn more about the art as well as have fun with it.

  10. Ham Radio Old people are the problem. They are very rude and disrespectful. No one want to talk about the past and how good it was and to be told that people don’t understand how it was. I rather use Zello app and
    We are just waiting for them to phase out.

  11. Interesting potential enhancement for the Technician Class. Admittedly, I have been licensed since 1991 and lost much interest over the years. Raising two wonderful kids (now adults), employment issues and divorce have really taken the wind out of my sails. I would like to see the FCC approve upgrade testing either at a reputable test site (such as Sylvan Leraning Ctr), or online. If you want to get more people involved in the hobby, expand testing venues. The internet exists; make use of it for such. Yet, the elites will dig their heels in and wail Noooooo! Yet I can take FCC Maritime Mobile licenses on the net. Huh????? Go figure.

  12. Interesting. I've been a tech class ham for awhile & my activities in the hobby slowed way down for a good bit. Just recently decided to get into the hobby more & plan to take advantage of what few privileges the Tech has on HF, this would only sweeten the deal. Perhaps there are more inactive hams out there who would get back into the hobby if these changes were made

  13. I'm a latecomer to Amateur radio – got my Tech license at 60. Privileges on 10m are just not enough motivation to spend my hard-earned dollars on an HF setup. And with the VHF/UHF repeaters being as dead as they are, I quickly lost interest after completing a view simple projects (home brew Yagi, pinging a few satellites, etc). I might be more motivated to purchase an HF rig and upgrade my license with expanded HF phone and digital privileges… and I don't think I'm alone in my thinking.

  14. I like that idea. I do have a general (for about 3 months), but in hindsight, questioned why so much about HF when they really can't do much.

  15. with dmr I can make contacts all over same goes for echolink I have a hf radio that's worthless I have made 2 contacts since I have had my license my chance on 10 meters is very slim I have to wait for band opening and most can be found on DMR and fm bands so really hf to me is dying

  16. The biggest change needed in amateur radio is pricing for HF equipment. VHF and UHF equipment is easy to covert from other services to be made to operate on the amateur radio bands. Old surplus equipment can be had extremely cheap with plenty of power and can be converted very easily to amateur radio bands. There are also budget minded VHF and UHF transceivers made for amateur radio. However, their is little, to no equipment, from other services that can be converted to HF amateur radio bands. The purpose built HF amateur radio equipment is extremely high priced. A budget amateur radio operator can use all VHF and UHF frequencies with little expense and effort. But amateur HF radio equipment is extremely expensive and far out of reach for the budget amateur radio operator. The only exception I can think of is 10 meter band. An old citizen's band transceiver can be converted with great ease. There are also affordable, purpose-made, 10 meter transceivers that are easy to find. As for the rest of HF, it has become a playground for those that have a lot of disposable income.

  17. I am torn. In my area much of everything is done on the technician side, so why would anyone upgrade? I am a general and just missed the extra test by a few questions. The person talking to me at the end tried to convince me to retry the test there because she could tell I wouldn't upgrade later. If a technician has more privileges, then why would they upgrade? I can see that more power and such could be a benefit for upgrading and maybe that could be the exact incentive.

  18. To bad this is old comment but I like it. I would like to see this happen. I got my license in 1987. I don't enjoy it as I used to. Too many silent keys now. This would be a big help to ham radio.

  19. Nice summary and I would second your point about Maker & Ham Radio as I am a Maker and I am going to test for technician as my goal is to combine the two. Second is I wonder about HF in this age as frankly I don't see myself using it for a couple of reasons. First is the size of the antenna required and yes I know there are "work arounds" per-say however my wife would shoot me if I put up an 80m wire 🙂 Second is the value of it as if its your thing then great, however what excites me is radio / internet integration. No issues working DX and worrying about the ionosphere as too who talks any more? My wife doesn't even call any more she texts me (and we are not spring chickens either). So survival of the hobby will based upon change as I also second the point around STEM as we need to make technology cool again!

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