Before the
Federal Communications Commission
Washington, D.C. 20554

PR Docket No. 90-55

In the Matter of
 
   
Amendment of Part 97 of the
Commissions Rules Concerning
the Establishment of a Codeless
Class of Amateur Operator License.
 
RM-6984
RM-6986
RM-6088
RM-6990
RM-6992
RM-6994
RM-6985
RM-6987
RM-6989
RM-6991
RM-6993
RM-6995


NOTICE OF PROPOSED RULE MAKING

Adopted: February 8,1990; Released: February 16, 1990

By the Commission:

I. INTRODUCTION

1. In this Notice of Proposed Rule Making (Notice), we propose to establish a new class of amateur operator license that would not require the applicant to prove that he or she can send and receive manual Morse code telegraphy messages. This proceeding was initiated by twelve petitions for rule making filed on matters generally relating to the amateur operator license class structure, requirements, and privileges.[1]

II. BACKGROUND

2. The amateur service exists for the purpose of self-training, intercommunication and technical investigations carried out by duly authorized persons interested in radio technique solely with a personal aim and without pecuniary interest. [2] Article 32 of the international Radio Regulations requires, among other things, that each person seeking a license to operate the apparatus of an amateur station prove that he or she has the ability to send correctly by hand and to receive correctly by ear text in Morse code signals. Although this requirement may be waived for an operator of an amateur station transmitting only on frequencies above 30 MHz [3], each of the five classes of operator licenses issued by the Commission [4] requires the applicant to pass an examination in the international Morse code. [5]

3. Over the years the Commission has received requests from persons who want to pursue the purposes of the amateur service, but who argue that Morse code telegraphy is an unnecessary barrier to obtaining a license. Historically, however, the amateur community has strongly supported a telegraphy skill requirement for every class of amateur operator license. In a l974 rule making proceeding, [6] and again in a 1983 rule making proceeding, [7] amateur licensees showed nearly unanimous opposition to proposals for a no-code license.

4. In the l974 rule making proceeding, we proposed an overall restructuring of the classes of amateur operator license. Included in those proposals was the establishment of a codeless class of license. Although it resulted in several improvements to the license structure, the proceeding was terminated without action on the codeless license class. [8] It was during the pendency of this proceeding that the computer-aided license application processing system currently in use was developed. The capability for processing a sixth class of license, therefore, was incorporated into the design for the system. In the 1983 rule making proceeding, the Commission again sought ways to provide a class of codeless license. One proposal was the deletion of the slow speed telegraphy examination requirement for the Technician Class license. [9] The alternative proposal was a new operator license class patterned after a Canadian codeless class of amateur license, and having very difficult written examination requirements. This proceeding was also strongly opposed by the amateur community and was terminated without action. [10] The above-listed petitions initiating this proceeding, however, indicate that the sentiment in the amateur community now appears to favor a code less license class. The ARRL, for example, states that it now supports a codeless license as being "beneficial to the future, short and long term of the Amateur Service" [11] The issue of a codeless class of amateur operator license, therefore, should be considered in light of current circumstances in the amateur service.

III. DISCUSSION

5. A significant segment of the amateur community has a new view of the role of telegraphy in the future of the service. David Stall states that "numerous recent surveys have demonstrated that the concept of a no-code license is rapidly attracting a wide base of support within the amateur community." [12] The ARRL states that its recent studies show: Encouraged by changes in the FCC rules, packet radio and other digital modes have become extremely popular and have led to amateur radio becoming increasingly attractive to computer-literate individuals who possess the ability to contribute significantly to the service, but who fail to perceive the relevance of manual Morse code. Many amateurs welcome the idea of providing a gateway to these individuals. The possibility now exists to dispassionately evaluate a codeless amateur license on its own merits. It is this factor that accounts for what the League perceives as a significant shift in attitudes among amateurs toward a codeless amateur license. [13]

6. The SCATG states that the time is right for a codeless class of license: Morse code operations were once the only way to make radio communications possible. It is now just a facet of an entire spectrum of possible methods of radio communications. It is no longer in keeping with the basis and purpose of the Amateur Radio service to stress one facet of radio communications over all others. Knowledge of code doesn't eliminate rules violations or uncourteous operations. [14]

7. Burt Fisher, a teacher of electronics at a regional high school, states "the public need would best be served if there were a door into amateur radio that had a limited code requirement. Once in the door, these youngsters would be tempted to the rest of the world (and technology) of amateur radio. The public would be served as the base of potential scientists and technicians would be enhanced...." He believes that a written examination could be used to ascertain that an entry level license applicant has knowledge of telegraphy. [15] Michael Trahos believes that it is essential to have a codeless beginner license so that the amateur service will not stagnate or experience a decrease in the number of licensees. He believes that if a codeless license is not established, the number of licensed amateur operators will decrease, with a consequent increasing re-allocation of amateur service spectrum by the Commission to the land mobile services. [16]

8. John McCord believes a codeless class of license would "attract many young minds to the hobby of amateur radio...." [17] Dennis and Linda Welch find the issue of a codeless class of license contentious and defended mostly by the older amateurs and championed by the very population needed for expansion. [18] Bill Welsh, who has a personal preference for code operation, foresees "that its years as a realistic amateur radio licensing requirement are coming to an end." [19] James E. Taylor states that telegraphy is no longer necessary and that the number of amateur operators must be drastically increased in order to "continue to justify our existence." [20] Clement Bourgeois, however, disagrees. He states that a knowledge of telegraphy by every amateur operator is essential. He does believe, however, that the high speed telegraphy examination [21] should be reduced to 15 words-per-minute or less. [22] Larry Ballentine suggests that telegraphy examinations only require the examinee to recognize telegraphy characters, rather than to send and receive text at specific rates of speed. [23]

9. Operator license structure. The petitions espouse various views on the structure of the license ladder. The general consensus, however, is that a codeless class of license should be the beginning step on the ladder. The ARRL believes that there is nothing antiquated or irrelevant about the Morse code, or its use in the Amateur Radio Service, but that this is a "matter that some individuals must learn for themselves, in order to appreciate that relevance." [24] Most of the petitions favor a structure that avoids any negative effect upon any current licensee. One approach would add a sixth class of operator license. David Stall recommends this approach, with the sixth class modeled after the Novice Class, without the telegraphy requirement. He believes that a codeless license should provide "a no-code entry into amateur radio without disrupting the existing classes, privileges, or incentives." [25] Burt Fisher also favors the sixth class approach, [26] as does ARRL, with the codeless class positioned in the license structure so that there is an upward path "to the present Technician license by way of a five words per minute Morse code examination...." [27]

10. Another approach taken in the petitions is to preserve the current five class structure by conversion of the Novice Class to a codeless class. John McCord, for example, recommends elimination of the telegraphy requirement for the Novice license. [28] In addition to conversion of the Novice Class, Dennis and Linda Welch also suggest a merger of the Technician and General Classes. [29] The SCATG recommends that the Novice Class be gradually replaced by a non-renewable codeless class that would "minimally disrupt the existing license structure to avoid disenfranchising current licensees. ... [t]he new license should avoid isolating the newcomer from the mainstream of amateur radio operators and operations while maintaining the incentive to upgrade and providing attractive privileges for the newcomer...." [30]

11. Other petitions suggest major revisions to the license class structure. James Taylor states that prospective amateur operators "are put off by the present complex, layered structure of our hobby...." He suggests one all-purpose operator class. [31] Alan Horowitz suggests "a no-code ham license, similar to Canada's license structure." [32] Michael Trahos, however, states that "[t]he Canadian no-code experience has clearly shown that creation of a no-code license class with examination requirements greater than that of the lowest available code license class fails to promote interest in, or insignificantly increases, the number of licensed amateur radio operators." [33] He suggests, instead, two new codeless classes. [34] Bill Welsh believes that emission mode privileges should be earned "by passing written and on-the-air operating tests that are directly related to the desired additional emission/mode privilege being sought." [35] He suggests that all frequency segments now offered as incentives be eliminated. [36]

12. Operator privileges. The petitions generally concur that, as a minimum, a station control operator holding a codeless class of license be authorized all emission privileges on the 1.25 meter (m) and shorter wavelength bands. For the longer wavelength bands, however, there are several views, starting with James Taylor's recommendation that all possible privileges be authorized to the codeless class. [37] Michael Trahos and SCATG recommend including the 6 m and 2 m bands. [38] Burt Fisher recommends authorizing the 52-54 MHz segment in the 6 m band. He also recommends including the 2 m band, but excluding emission F3E on that band. [39] The ARRL recommends excluding operation on both the 6 m and 2 m bands. [40] Dennis and Linda Welch, [41] David Stall, [42] and John McCord make recommendations similar to those of the ARRL. John McCord, however, suggests including digital type emission privileges on the 6 m and 2 m bands. [43]

13. The petitions recommend that the eligibility for the codeless class of license, like all amateur operator licenses, require the passing of a written examination. The ARRL states that the written examination should reflect the privileges to be earned and require a greater commitment than does the present Technician class written examination. It believes that the lessons learned from codeless license programs in other countries necessitate a significant written examination. The ARRL recommends, therefore, that a written examination for the codeless license be administered under the Volunteer Examiner Coordinator (VEC) system. The ARRL also recommends a 60 question written examination consisting of the current 55 question written examination for the Technician Class Operator license, augmented by five additional questions related to the specific privileges afforded the codeless licensees. Two of the new questions would be concerned with the application and use of telegraphy and the remainder would be concerned with digital communication techniques. [44] The SCATG states that the written examination should consist of 50 questions. [45]

14. The petitions also suggest names for a new codeless class of license. The SCATG suggests "Apprentice." [46] Burt Fisher suggests "Novice-V." [47] Michael Trahos suggests "Novice-Plus" and "Technician-Plus." [48] David Stall suggests "Limited." [49] The ARRL states that its suggested name "Communicator," although "not exactly reflective of the type of license envisioned in the proposal... is, however, the most descriptive among those alternatives considered." [50]

IV. PROPOSAL

15. We believe that the petitions have merit. Further, like the petitioners, we believe that this is a propitious time to propose the establishment of a codeless license, given the advances in electronic communications in the past few years. We propose, therefore, to establish a codeless class of amateur operator license, the Communicator Class. With respect to this proposed operator class, we have established three objectives. Our first objective is to offer an entry level license opportunity to all persons who find the telegraphy requirement a barrier to pursuing the purposes of the amateur service. Our view is best expressed by the statement of the ARRL that "the goal of the codeless amateur license is to bring such licensees into the 'mainstream' of the Amateur Radio Service, and to encourage them to upgrade their license class." [51] Our second objective is to propose a type of license that can be implemented quickly if a decision is made to proceed. Our third objective is to avoid any negative effect upon current licensees, upon the work of the volunteer examiners, or upon the Commissions workload or resources. To preclude any impact on our resources, it is imperative that our existing computer-aided application processing system be utilized "as is." [52] The proposed rule amendments are contained in the attached Appendix.

16. In proposed Sections 97.501 and 97.503(b)1), we would require that the applicant for a Communicator Class license pass a 60 question written examination, as requested by ARRL. In sum, there would be an expanded entry level examination and corresponding question pool. We concur with ARRL that the written examination for the Communicator Class license should correspond to the privileges for that class of license. [53] The new question pool would be comprised of the questions from the two pools currently used in the Novice and Technician license examinations, and new questions as requested by ARRL. [54] By incorporating existing questions, over 91 percent of the question pool for a Communicator Class license would already be available and would help facilitate a smooth transition. [55]

17. Operator license structure. In proposed Section 97.9. we would incorporate the Communicator Class in a simplified license structure containing four ascending steps: Communicator, General, Advanced, and Amateur Extra Classes, Current Technician and Novice Class operator licenses would be grandfathered indefinitely. There would be no new licenses issued for those license classes, but existing licenses could be modified or renewed. This approach would meet the objectives we established in paragraph 15. Dennis and Linda Welch, John McCord, and SCATG suggested preserving the five-step ladder by eliminating the telegraphy examination requirement from the Novice class license. This approach deserves careful consideration by the amateur community because of its simplicity. We did not propose this approach because of its disadvantage of lowering the license qualification standards for the Novice operator class. As such, it may be unacceptable to the hundreds of thousands of amateur operators, including the 85.000 current Novice Class licensees, who qualified for the Novice license by passing a telegraphy examination. The Novice Class has operating privileges below 30 MHz, necessitating the need for a knowledge of telegraphy as described in paragraph 2.

18. For future licensees, the Communicator Class license would be the first step in the license structure instead of the Novice Class. Our premise is that most newcomers to the service, given the choice, would elect to qualify for the Communicator Class license rather than the Novice Class license. There would, therefore, no longer be a need for the Novice Class license. We particularly invite instructors, volunteer examiners (VEs). and VECs to submit comments on the validity of this premise, including factual information on the time and effort that would be required for persons to prepare for the proposed 60 question Communicator Class written examination as compared to the time and effort currently required for the Novice Class 30 question written examination and telegraphy examination.

19. Because the written examination for the Communicator Class license would be more comprehensive than that of the Technician Class license, the Communicator Class would also serve in the stead of the Technician Class for future licensees. Each step in the proposed four step structure provides recognition that the holder has significantly advanced his or her skills in both the communication and technical phases of the radio art. [56] This structure could be rapidly implemented. The present license application processing system and license application form would continue to be used. [57]

20. Operator privileges. The proposed control operator privileges of the Communicator Class would generally be those suggested by the ARRL. The privileges would include all authorized emission types. The proposed transmitter power standard would be 200 watts peak envelope power. The licensee's station would be eligible for a Group D call sign. [58] Stations with Communicator Class control operators would not be permitted to transmit on the 2 m and 6 m bands. In view of ARRL's desire to bring the codeless class into the mainstream of the amateur service, [59] however, we particularly invite comment on the effect of excluding Communicator Class licensees from these two popular bands.

21. The ARRL stated that one premise for its petition was that an accommodation should be made for codeless class licensees to upgrade their license class. It cited countries that have codeless licenses where the written examination tests the examinee's technical qualifications. The ARRL stated that amateur service societies in countries such as Australia, the Federal Republic of Germany, and Belgium report ongoing telegraphy activities among the codeless class licensees working to upgrade the license class. [60] While the proposed Communicator Class privileges include telegraphy on the 1.25 meter and shorter wavelength bands, we recognize that telegraphy operation is more closely associated with the HF bands. The opportunity for newcomers to the amateur service actually to send and receive messages in the Morse code on small segments of the HF 80, 40, 15, and 10 meter bands is provided to the Novice and Technician Classes so that those operators can gain an appreciation of telegraphy and acquire the proficiency needed to pass the telegraphy examination for the General Class operator license. We specifically request comments, therefore, concerning the desirability of including the opportunity for Communicator Class licensees also to experience on-the-air telegraphy operation on the HF bands. In view of our obligation under the provisions of the international Radio Regulations, [61] if it is desired, only domestic communications on the HF bands would be authorized.

22. Under proposed Section 97.301(g), a Communicator Class licensee who passes, or otherwise receives credit for a telegraphy examination, would be authorized the additional privileges of the Technician Class. [62] To avoid a license processing burden, however, the documentation of the passing of, or credit for, a telegraphy examination would be evidenced by the Certificate of Successful Completion of Examination (CSCE) issued by the administering VEs, [63] rather than by the issuance of a Technician Operator license. The indicator used by the Communicator Class for identification purposes would be AC. [64] Under proposed Section 97.505(a)(1), VEs would be authorized to grant examination credit, evidenced by a CSCE, to a Communicator Class examinee for the slow speed telegraphy examination when the examinee holds a Novice Operator license. [65] That combination, Communicator Class license and CSCE, would permit the Communicator Class licensee the same rights and privileges of the Technician Class operator. The VECs would provide listings, in paper or magnetic form, of the Communicator Class licensees who have been issued the CSCE.

23. Volunteer examiners. The instant proposal contains substantive changes in the amateur operator license examination procedure and the issuance of amateur operator licenses and CSCEs. All operator license examinations would be administered under the VEC system. [66] The additional task of administering the Communicator Class license would be offset by the elimination of other tasks, including the discontinuance of the two examiner system for the Novice Class license. [67] The coordination and oversight by the VECs provide more credible results than does the two examiner system. In the latter, examination administration errors are more common and cheating is a greater problem than in the VEC system. The task of administering new Technician Operator Class licenses would also be discontinued. [68] The Novice and Technician written examinations would no longer be prepared and administered as separate examinations. The VEs and VECs, moreover, could be reimbursed for out-of-pocket costs incurred in connection with all examinations. [69]

V. CONCLUSION

24. We believe that this proposal would achieve the objectives set forth in paragraph 15 above. We seek comments, therefore, on the proposed revisions to Part 97 to establish a Communicator Class Operator license for the amateur service, as set forth in the attached Appendix.

VI. PROCEDURAL MATTERS

25. For purposes of this non-restricted notice and comment rule making proceeding, members of the public are advised that ex parte presentations are permitted except during the Sunshine Agenda period. See generally 47 C.F.R. 1.1206(a). The Sunshine Agenda period is the period of time which commences with the release of a public notice that a matter has been placed on the Sunshine Agenda and terminates when the Commission (1) releases the text of a decision or order in the matter; (2) issues a public notice stating that the matter has been deleted from the Sunshine Agenda; or (3) issues a public notice stating that the matter has been returned to the staff for further consideration, whichever occurs first. 47 C.F.R. 1.202(f). During the Sunshine Agenda period, no presentations, ex parte or otherwise, are permitted unless specifically requested by Commission or staff for the clarification or adduction of evidence or the resolution of issues in the proceeding. 47 C.F.R. 1.1203.

26. In general, an ex parte presentation is any presentation directed to the merits or outcome of the proceeding made to decision-making personnel which (1) if written, is not served on the parties to the proceeding, or (2), if oral, is made without advance notice to the parties to the proceeding and without opportunity for them to be present. 47 C.F.R. 1.1202(b). Any person who makes or submits a written ex parte presentation shall provide on the same day it is submitted two copies of same under separate cover to the Commission's Secretary for inclusion in the public record. The presentation (as well as any transmittal letter) must clearly indicate on its face the docket number of the particular proceeding to which it relates and the fact that two copies of it have been submitted to the Secretary, and must be labeled or captioned as an ex parte presentation. 47 C.F.R. 1.1206.

27. Any person who is making an oral ex parte presentation and presents data or arguments not already reflected in that person's written comments, memoranda, or other previous filings in that proceeding shall provide on the day of the oral presentation an original and one copy of a written memorandum to the Secretary (with a copy to the Commissioner or staff member involved) which summarizes the data and arguments. The memorandum (as well as any transmittal letter) must clearly indicate on its face the docket number of the particular proceeding and the fact that an original and one copy of it have been submitted to the Secretary, and must be labeled or captioned as an ex parte presentation. 47 C.F.R. 1.1206.

28. Authority for issuance of this Notice is contained in Sections 4(i) and 303(l) and (r) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 154(i) and 303(l) and (r). Pursuant to applicable procedures set forth in Sections 1.415 and 1.419 of the Commission's Rules, 47 C.F.R. 1.415 and 1.419, interested parties may file comments on or before August 6, 1990, and reply comments on or before September 7, 1990. All relevant and timely comments will be considered by the Commission before final action is taken in this proceeding. To file formally in this proceeding, participants must file an original and four copies of all comments and reply comments. If participants want each Commissioner to receive a personal copy of their comments, an original and nine copies must be filed. Comments and reply comments must state the proceeding to which they relate (PR Docket Number). They should be sent to the Secretary, Federal Communications Commission, Washington, D.C. 20554. Comments and reply comments will be available for public inspection during regular business hours in the Dockets Reference Room (Room 239) of the Federal Communications Commission, 1919 M Street N.W., Washington, D.C. 20554.

29. In accordance with Section 605 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980. 5 U.S.C. 605, the Commission certifies that these rules would not, if promulgated, have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities, because these entities may not use an amateur station to transmit any communication the purpose of which is to facilitate the business or commercial affairs of any party. See 47 C.F.R. 97.113(a). Moreover, the proposed rules would not require the use of or significantly enhance the sale of any additional amateur station apparatus. 30. The proposal contained herein has been analyzed with respect to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1980. 44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq., and found to increase the information collection burden which the Commission imposes on the public. This proposed increase in the information collection burden is subject to approval by the Office of Management and Budget as prescribed by the Act. 31. A copy of this Notice will be forwarded to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration.

FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION

 

Donna R. Searcy
Secretary

APPENDIX

Part 97 of Chapter I of Title 47 of the Code of Federal Regulation is proposed to be amended as follows:

1. The authority citation for Part 97 continues to read as follows:

Authority citation: 48 Stat. 1066, 1082, as amended; 47 U.S.C. 303. Interpret or apply 48 Stat. 1064-1068, 1081-1105, as amended; 47 U.S.C. 301-609, unless otherwise noted.

2. Section 97.9 is revised to read as follows:

97.9 Operator license.

(a) The classes of operator licenses are Communicator, General, Advanced, and Amateur Extra. There are also two grandfathered classes of operator licenses, Novice and Technician. An operator license authorizes the holder to be the control operator of a station with the privileges of the operator class specified on the license. The license document or a photocopy thereof must be in the personal possession of the licensee at all times when the person is the control operator of a station.

(b) A person holding a Communicator Class operator license and who holds a CSCE indicating that the person passed element 1(A), 1(B), or 1(C) is authorized to exercise the rights and privileges of the Technician Class for the duration of the license term and renewal thereof.

(c) A person holding a Novice, Technician, Communicator, General, or Advanced Class operator License who has properly filed with the FCC an application for a higher operator class that has not yet been acted upon, and who holds a CSCF indicating that the person passed the necessary examinations within the previous 365 days is authorized to exercise the rights and privileges of the higher operator class.

3. Section 97.17(a) is revised to read as follows:

97.17 Application for new license.

(a) Any qualified person is eligible to apply for an amateur service license. No new Novice or Technician Class operator licenses will be issued.

* * * * *

4. Section 97.119(e) is revised to read as follows:

97.119 Station identification.

* * * * *

(e) When the control operator is using privileges on the basis of holding a CSCE, an indicator must be included after the call sign as follows:

(1) AC for Communicator Class operator;
(2) AG for General Class operator;
(3) AA for Advanced Class operator; or
(4) AE for Amateur Extra Class operator.

* * * * *

5. Section 97.301(a) is revised and a new paragraph (g) is added to read as follows:

97.301 Authorized frequency bands.

(a) For a station having a control operator holding a Technician, Communicator, General, Advanced or Amateur Extra Class operator license:

Wave-
length
band
ITU
Region 1
ITU
Region 2
ITU
Region 3
Sharing
require-
ments
See 97.303,
Paragraph:
VHF
1.25m
 
MHz
---
 
MHz
222-225
 
MHz
---
 
(a),(b),(e)
UHF
70 cm
33 cm
23 cm
13 cm
do
MHz
430-440
---
1240-1300
2300-2310
2390-2450
MHz
420-450
902-928
1240-1300
2300-2310
2390-2450
MHz
420-450
---
1240-1300
2300-2310
2390-2450
(a),(b),(f)
(a),(b),(g)

(j)
(a),(b),(j)
(a),(b),(j)
         
SHF GHz GHz GHz  
9 cm
5 cm
3 cm
1.2 cm
---
5.650-5.850
10.00-10.50
24.00-24.25
3.3-3.5
5.650-5.925
10.00-10.50
24.00-24.25
3.3-3.5
5.650-5.850
10.00-10.50
24.00-24.25
(a),(b),(k),(l)
(a),(b),(m)
(b),(c),(i),(n)
(a),(b),(i),(o)
         
EHF GHz GHz GHz  
6 mm
4 mm
2.5 mm

2 mm
1 mm
---
47.0-47.2
75.5-81.0
119.98-
120.02
142-149
241-250
above 300
47.0-47.2
75.5-81.0
119.98-
120.02
142-149
241-250
above 300
47.0-47.2
75.5-81.0
119.98-
120.02
142-149
241-250
above 300

(b).(c),(h)
(k),(p)

(b),(c),(h),(k)
(b),(c),(h),(q)
(k)

* * * * *

(g) For a station having a control operator holding a Technician, General, Advanced or Amateur Extra Class operator license:

Wave-
length
band
ITU
Region 1
ITU
Region 2
ITU
Region 3
Sharing
require-
ments
See 97.303,
Paragraph:
VHF MHz MHz MHz  
6 m
2 m
---
144-146
50-54
144-148
50-54
144-148
(a)
(a)

6. Section 97.501 is revised to read as follows:

97.501 Qualifying for an amateur operator license.

An applicant must successfully pass an examination for the issuance of a new amateur operator license and for each change in operator class. Each applicant for the class of operator license specified below must pass, or otherwise receive examination credit for, the following examination elements.

(a) Amateur Extra Class operator: Element 1(C), and elements 3(A), 3(B), 4(A), and 4(B);
(b) Advanced Class operator: Element 1(B) or 1(C), and elements 3(A), 3(B), and 4(A);
(c) General Class operator: Element 1(B) or 1(C), and elements 3(A), and 3(B);
(d) Communicator Class operator: Element 3(A).

7. Paragraphs (b) and (c) of Section 97.503 are revised to read as follows:

97.503 Element standards.

(b) A written examination must be such as to prove that the examinee possesses the operational and technical qualifications required to perform properly the duties of an amateur service licensee. Each written examination must be comprised of a question set as follows:
(1) Element 3(A): 60 questions concerning the privileges of a Communicator Class operator license. The minimum passing score is 45 questions answered correctly.
(2) Element 3(B): 25 questions concerning the additional privileges of a General Class operator license. The minimum passing score is 19 questions answered correctly.
(3) Element 4(A): 50 questions concerning the additional privileges of an Advanced Class operator license. The minimum passing score is 37 questions answered correctly.
(4) Element 4(B): 40 questions concerning the additional privileges of an Amateur Extra Class operator license. The minimum passing score is 30 questions answered correctly.
(c) The topics and number of questions required in each question set are listed below for the appropriate examination element:

Topics Element:
3
(A)

3
(B)

4
(A)

4
(B)
         
(1) FCC rules for the amateur radio services 15 4 6 8
(2) Amateur station operating procedures 7 3 1 4
(3) Radio wave propagation characteristics of amateur service frequency bands 4 3 2 2
(4) Amateur radio practices 11 5 4 4
(5) Electrical principles as applied to amateur station equipment 6 2 10 6
(6) Amateur station equipment circuit components 4 1 6 4
(7) Practical circuits employed in amateur station equipment 3 1 10 4
(8) Signals and emissions transmitted by amateur stations 4 2 6 4
(9) Amateur station antennas and feed lines 6 4 5 4

8. Section 97.505(a) is revised to read as follows:

97.505 Element credit.

(a) The administering VEs must give credit as specified below to an examinee holding any of the following documents:
(1) An unexpired (or within the renewal grace period) FCC-issued Novice Class operator license: Element 1(A) and the 30 written questions in Element 3(A) based upon the material from the written examination passed for the Novice Class operator license.
(2) An unexpired (or within the renewal grace period) FCC-issued Communicator Class operator license: Element 3(A).
(3) An unexpired (or within the renewal grace period) FCC-issued Technician Class operator license: Element 3(A).
(4) An unexpired (or within the renewal grace period) FCC-issued Technician Class operator license issued before March 21, 1987: Elements 3(A) and 3(B).
(5) An unexpired (or within the renewal grace period) FCC-issued General Class operator license: Elements 1(B), 3(A), and 3(B).
(6) An unexpired (or within the renewal grace period) FCC-issued Advanced Class operator license: Elements 3(A), 3(B), and 4(A).
(7) A CSCE: Each element the CSCE indicates the examinee passed within the previous 365 days.
(8) An unexpired (or expired less than 5 years) FCC-issued commercial radiotelegraph operator license or permit: Element 1(C).

9. Section 97.507 is revised to read as follows:

97.507 Preparing an examination.

(a) Each telegraphy message and each written question set administered to an examinee must be prepared by a VE holding an FCC-issued Amateur Extra Class operator license. A telegraphy message or written question set, however, may also be prepared for the following elements by a VE holding an FCC-issued operator license of the Class indicated:

(1) Element 3(B): Advanced Class operator.
(2) Elements 1(A) and 3(A): Advanced or General Class operator.

(b) Each question set administered to an examinee must utilize questions taken from the applicable question pool.
(c) Each telegraphy message and each written question set administered to an examinee for a Communicator. General, Advanced or Amateur Extra Class operator license must be prepared, or obtained from a supplier, by the administering VEs according to instructions from the coordinating VEC.
(d) A telegraphy examination must consist of a message sent in the international Morse code at no less than the prescribed speed for a minimum of 5 minutes. The message must contain each required telegraphy character at least once. No message known to the examinee may be administered in a telegraphy examination. Each 5 letters of the alphabet must be counted as 1 word. Each numeral, punctuation mark and prosign must be counted as 2 letters of the alphabet.

10. In Section 97.511, the heading and the text are revised to read as follows:

97.511 Operator license examination.

(a) Each session where an examination is administered must be coordinated by a VEC. Each administering VE must be accredited by' the coordinating VEC.
(b) Each examination for a Communicator Class operator license must be administered by 3 administering VEs. each of whom must hold an FCC-issued Amateur Extra or Advanced Class operator license.
(c) Each examination for a General, Advanced or Amateur Extra Class operator license must be administered by 3 administering VEs, each of whom must hold an FCC-issued Amateur Extra Class operator license.
(d) The administering VEs must make a public announcement before administering an examination. The number of candidates at any examination may be limited.
(e) The administering VEs must issue a CSCE to an examinee who scores a passing grade on an examination element.
(f) Within 10 days of the administration of a successful examination, the administering VEs must submit the application to the coordinating VEC.

11. Section 97.513 is removed.
12. In Section 97.519, new paragraph (d) is added to read as follows:

97.519 Coordinating examination sessions.

(d) Each coordinating VEC must compile lists of Communicator Class operator licensees who have been issued a CSCE for Element 1(A), 1(B), or 1(C) during each calendar month. The VEC must forward a copy of the list to the Private Radio Bureau, FCC, Washington. DC 20554, by the 10th day following the end of the month.

13. Section 97.527 is amended by revising paragraph (a), removing paragraph (c) and redesignating paragraphs (d) (e) (f) and (g) as (c) (d) (e) and (f) to read as follows:

97.527 Reimbursement for expenses.

(a) VEs and VECs may be reimbursed by examinees for out-of-pocket expenses incurred in preparing, processing, administering, or coordinating an examination.

FOOTNOTES

1. The petitions were received from the American Radio Relay League, Inc. (ARRL) (RM-6995), Larry Ballentine (RM-6991), Clement Bourgeois, Jr. (RM-6988), Burt Fisher (RM-6989), Alan Horowitz (RM-6984), John M. McCord (RM-6993), the Space Coast Amateur Technical Group (SCATG) (RM-6986), David K. Stall (RM-6994), James E. Taylor (RM-6985), Michael C. Trahos (RM-6990), Dennis and Linda Welch (RM-2987), and Bill Welsh (RM-6992). Subsequent to the Public Notice listing of the foregoing petitions, two additional petitions addressing the same matter were received from Larry Garens and Philip Howard. These petitions are included in the record of this notice and comment proceeding and will be given full consideration prior to a final determination in this matter.

2. See No. 53 of the International Telecommunication Union Radio Regulations (Geneva, 1979) (hereafter Radio Regulations). See also 47 U.S.C. 153(q).

3. See No. 2735 of the Radio Regulations.

4. The license classes are, in ascending steps, Novice, Technician, General, Advanced and Amateur Extra.

5. The examinations cover three levels of telegraphy skill. They are 5, 13, and 20 words-per-minute. The examinee must also pass certain written examination elements, depending upon the operator license class sought. See Sections 97.501 and 97.503 of the Commission's Rules, 47 C.F.R. 97.501 and 97.503.

6. Notice of Proposed Rule Making, Docket No. 20282, 39 Fed. Reg. 44042 (1974).

7. Notice of Proposed Rule Making, PR Docket No, 83-28, 48 Fed. Reg. 4855 (1983).

8. Third Report and Order, Docket No. 20282, 34 Fed. Reg. 16461 (1979).

9. The qualification requirements for a Technician Class Operator license are passing the five words-per-minute telegraphy examination, the 30 question written examination for a Novice Class Operator license, and the 25 question written examination for a Technician Class Operator license.

10. Report and Order, PR Docket No. 83-28, 49 Fed. Reg. 1097 (1984).

11. RM-6995 at 21.

12. RM-6994 at 3.

13. RM-6995 at 12 and 13, N. 11.

14. RM-6986 at 3.

15. RM-6989 at 1 and 2.

16. RM-6990 at 5.

17. RM-6993 at 2.

18. RM-6987 at 1.

19. RM-6992 at 1.

20. RM-6985 at 1.

21. The highest speed telegraphy requirement is 20 words-per-minute for the Amateur Extra Class operator license.

22. RM-6988 at 2 and 3.

23. RM-6991 at 1.

24. RM-6995 at 15.

25. RM-6994 at 1.

26. RM-6989 at 1.

27. RM-6995 at 18.

28. RM-6993 at 1.

29. RM-6987 at 2.

30. RM-6986 at 1,

31. RM-6985 at 1 and 2.

32. RM-6984 at 1.

33. RM-6990 at 4.

34. RM-6990 at 20.

35. RM-6992 at 2 and 3.

36. RM-6992 at 3.

37. RM-6985 at 2.

38. RM-6990 at 21, and RM-6986 at 2.

39. RM-6989 at 1.

40. RM-6995 at 20.

41. RM-6987 at 2.

42. RM-6994 at 1.

43. RM-6993 at 1.

44. RM-6995 at 17 and 18.

45. RM-6986 at 2.

46. RM-6986 at 1.

47. RM-6989 at 1.

48. RM-6990 at 20.

49. RM-6994 at 1.

50. RM-6995 at 17.

51. RM-6995 at 19.

52. The sixth license class designation is "Communicator."

53. A written examination must be designed to demonstrate that the examinee has the operational and technical qualifications required to perform properly the duties of an amateur service licensee in accordance with the privileges authorized by the class of operator license sought. See 47 U.S.C. 303(l)(1) and 47 C.F.R. 97.503(b).

54. Section 97.523, 47 C.F.R. 97.523, requires all VECs to cooperate in maintaining one question pool for each written examination element. Each pool must contain at least 10 times the number of questions required for a single examination.

55. The current Technician Class question pool consists of 250 questions. There are currently 300 questions in the Novice Class question pool. An additional 50 questions would be added, giving the proposed Communicator Class question pool a total of 600 questions.

56. See Section 97.1(c). 47 C.F.R. 97.1(c).

57. Until a revised FCC FORM 610 becomes available, the administering VEs would write in certain information on the current form in the case of an application for a Communicator Operator license. We would furnish information to the VECs for temporary use of the current form, if we decide to proceed with the Communicator Class license.

58. The computer-aided application processing system selects a new call sign from four basic groupings for assignment to an amateur station. Each call sign is sequentially selected from an alphabetized regional-group list that corresponds to the licensee's class of operator license and mailing address.

59. RM-6995 at 19.

60. RM-6995 at 14.

61. See Radio Regulations, Nos. 2735, and 2736.

62. The additional privileges include RTTY and data emissions and phone emissions J3E and R3E in a segment of the 10 meter band, and all authorized emissions in the 2 and 6 meter bands, See 97.301 and 97.303.

63. A Certificate of Successful Completion of Examination is now issued by VEs. See Section 97.511(e), 47 C.F.R. 97.511(e).

64. Section 97.119(e) requires that an indicator must be included after the call sign whenever the control operator is using privileges based on holding a CSCE. The indicator AC is proposed for the Communicator Class.

65. Currently, Section 97.505(a)(2), 47 C.F.R. 97.505(a)(2), requires VEs to give credit to an examinee holding a certificate of successful examination (CSCE) indicating the examination was passed within the previous 365 days. Currently, Section 97.9(b), 47 C.F.R. 97.9(b). authorizes a licensee holding a CSCE indicating that he or she completed the necessary examinations within the previous 365 days to exercise the rights and privileges of the higher operator class. The time limitation that would apply to the use of a CSCE in conjunction with the Communicator Class license authorizing the rights and privileges of the Technician Class would be the duration of the license term and renewal thereof.

66. Eighteen organizations function as VECs. They accredit VEs, coordinate examination sessions, maintain the question pools, provide instructions to VEs, review and forward completed license application forms to the Commission for processing. Some 50,000 examinations are administered annually under the VEC system.

67. Some 18,000 to 20,000 persons qualify for a Novice Operator Class license annually. The examinations are administered by two General, Advanced, or Amateur Extra Operator Class licensees selected by the examinee.

68. Some 10,000 to 15,000 persons qualify for the Technician Operator Class license annually.

69. Currently, VEs and VEC may only be reimbursed by examinees for expenses incurred in preparing, processing. administering or coordinating an examination for a Technician, General, Advanced, or Amateur Extra Class Operator license. See 47 U.S.C. 154(f)(4)(J) and 47 C.F.R. 97.527.