QST de W1AW
ARRL Bulletin 2 ARLB002
>From ARRL Headquarters
Newington CT January 6, 2017
To all radio amateurs
SB QST ARL ARLB002
ARLB002 FCC Dismisses Two Petitions from Radio Amateurs
The FCC has turned down two petitions filed in 2016, each seeking
similar changes in the Part 97 Amateur Service rules. James Edwin
Whedbee, N0ECN, of Gladstone, Missouri, had asked the Commission to
amend the rules to reduce the number of Amateur Radio operator
classes to Technician, General, and Amateur Extra by merging
remaining Novice class licensees into the Technician class and all
Advanced class licensees into the Amateur Extra class. In a somewhat
related petition, Jeffrey H. Siegell, WB2YRL, of Burke, Virginia,
had requested that the FCC grant Advanced class license holders
Morse code operating privileges equivalent to those enjoyed by
Amateur Extra class licensees.
'Thus, Mr. Siegell's proposed rule change is subsumed within the
changes Mr. Whedbee requests, so our analysis is the same for both
proposals,' the FCC said in dismissing the two petitions on January
The FCC streamlined the Amateur Radio licensing system into three
classes - Technician, General, and Amateur Extra - in 1999. While it
no longer issues new Novice or Advanced class licenses, existing
licenses can be renewed, and Novice and Advanced licensees retained
their operating privileges.
'The Commission concluded that the three-class structure would
streamline the licensing process, while still providing an incentive
for licensees to advance their communication and technical skills,'
the FCC recounted in its dismissal letter to Whedbee and Siegell. It
specifically rejected suggestions that Novice and Advanced class
licensees be automatically upgraded to a higher class, concluding
that it would be inappropriate for these licensees to 'receive
additional privileges without passing the required examination
elements.' The FCC cited the same reason in 2005, when it denied
requests to automatically upgrade Technician licensees to General
class and Advanced licensees to Amateur Extra class, as part of a
The FCC said the two petitions 'do not demonstrate, or even suggest,
that any relevant circumstances have changed that would merit
reconsideration of those decisions.'
Whedbee had argued that automatically upgrading current Novice and
Advanced classes would simplify the rules and reduce the
Commission's costs and administrative burden, but the FCC said
Whedbee provided no evidence that an administrative problem exists.
'Moreover, such benefits would not outweigh the public interest in
ensuring that amateur operators have the requisite incentive to
advance their skill and technical knowledge in order to contribute
to the advancement of the radio art and improvement of the Amateur
Radio Service,' the FCC said.
'The Commission has already concluded that it will not automatically
grant additional privileges to the discontinued license classes,'
the FCC said. 'Consequently, we conclude that the above-referenced
petitions for rulemaking do not warrant further consideration at
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