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FCC Dismisses Ham Radio Petitions

Proposed revisions in classes don’t move Wireless Telecommunications Bureau

The Federal Communications Commission this week dismissed several requests for rule changes to the amateur radio service.

In 2016 James Whedbee and Jeffrey Siegell requested modifications to the commission’s Part 97 rules in separate petitions for rulemaking.

Whedbee had sought “to reduce the number of amateur radio operator classes to Technician, General and Amateur Extra, to merge into the Technician Class all Novice Class operators and to merge into the Amateur Extra Class all Advanced Class operators.”

The FCC says it streamlined its amateur licensing system in 1999 into three classes: Technician, General and Amateur Extra. At the time it discontinued the Novice and Advanced classes but still allows existing licenses in those classes to be renewed.

Scott Stone, deputy chief of the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau mobility division, wrote in the FCC’s dismissal: “Your petition essentially urge the commission to afford Novice and Advanced Class operator licenses the operating privileges of, respectively, General and Amateur Extra Class operator licenses. Holders of discontinued licenses would thereby achieve an upgrade to the next higher class without having to pass the requisite examination element for the higher class.”

“Mr. Whedbee argues that automatically upgrading licensees in the discontinued classes would simplify the rules and reduce the commission’s administrative burdens and costs, but he provides no evidence to suggest that an administrative problem even exists.”

The FCC had previously concluded that it will not automatically grant additional privileges to the discontinued license classes, Stone wrote.

Siegell had requested amendments to Part 97 that would allow Advanced Class license holders the use of Morse Code procedures equal to those of Amateur Extra Class licenses. The FCC action also dismissed that petition for rulemaking this week.