Friday, April 12, 2019

FCC Seeks Comments on Licensing Proposals

The FCC in March asked amateurs for preliminary comments on two proposed changes to entry-level licensing and privileges. At the time this was posted, the 30-day comment period was nearly over, but there will be additional commenting opportunities if the FCC issues a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) on the proposals. 

The first is the ARRL's "Technician Enhancement" proposal. According to the ARRL Letter, it would expand Technician Class HF privileges to include limited voice privileges on 75, 40 and 15 meters (3.900 to 4.000 MHz, 7.225 to 7.300 MHz, and 21.350 to 21.450 MHz), as well as radioteletype (RTTY) and other digital mode privileges on current Novice/Tech CW subbands on 80, 40, 15 and 10 meters.

The second proposal is from Gary A. Hampton, AD0WU, for a new "Tyro" license class which would provide access to 99 channels on the 70-centimeter band, between 430 and 440 MHz. Prospective licensees would need to be at least 11 years old, pass a minimal online exam and be mentored by a ham with a Technician Class or higher license. The plan would set up a new Tyro repeater subband, with transmit and receive channels separated by 9 MHz (430-431 MHz and 439-440 MHz, plus a handful of simplex channels at the high end). Both voice and digital modes would be allowed, with a power limit of 20 watts. The proposal separately suggests adding citizen science research to the "basis and purpose" section of the amateur radio rules.