Sunday, December 17, 2006

End of an era for amateur radio

The FCC has decided to drop the morse code requirement for amateur radio licenses.

In an historic move, the FCC has acted to drop the Morse code requirement for all Amateur Radio license classes. The Commission today adopted, but hasn't yet released, the long-awaited Report and Order (R&O) in WT Docket 05-235, the "Morse code" proceeding. Also today, the FCC adopted an Order on Reconsideration in WT Docket 04-140 -- the "omnibus" proceeding -- modifying 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.

I have heard from people involved in amateur radio that the number of operators has been decreasing in the internet era. If so, I'd have to guess that would be the reason that the FCC is dropping morse code requirements. In doing so, they are really dropping one of the biggest barriers to amateur radio participation. I held an amateur radio license for 10 years before I let expire without renewal in 2000. The hardest part for me in getting that license was becoming proficient enough in morse code. At the same time, the morse code communications were also the most charming part of amateur radio.

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