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FCC Backs Decision to Drop Morse Requirements for Amateur Operator Licenses

The agency is sticking by an earlier decision.

In December 2006, the FCC decided to drop the Morse code requirement for all Amateur Radio license classes.

This week, the agency said it’s sticking by that decision and denied two requests from individuals who asked that Morse Code proficiency continue to be a requirement for ham licensees.

At the time the commission decided to drop the Morse Code exam, it said knowing Morse is not necessarily indicative of an individual’s ability to contribute to the advancement of ham radio. The agency also said emergency communication today is performed using voice, data or video modes — all much faster than telegraphy.

Two petitioners asked the FCC to reconsider; one said the requirement should be retained so ham operators can act as a strategic reserve in case of an emergency. The commission was not persuaded that eliminating the telegraphy exam would affect national security or emergency communications.

Another petitioner wasn’t sure the commission actually saw his request because he had trouble filing electronically. The FCC said all comments were considered, no matter how they were filed, before it made a decision.

The FCC said it received roughly 100 comments, “overwhelmingly” negative.