FCC Okays Changes to Exam Credit, Test Administration, Emission Type Rules:
The ARRL Letter
June 12, 2014
Add a comment about this article!
FCC Okays Changes to Amateur Radio Exam Credit, Test Administration, Emission Type Rules:
In a wide-ranging Report and Order
released June 9 that takes various proceedings into consideration, the
FCC has revised the Amateur Service Part 97 rules to grant credit for
written examination elements 3 (General) and 4 (Amateur Extra) to
holders of "expired licenses that required passage of those elements."
The FCC will require former licensees -- those falling outside the
2-year grace period -- to pass Element 2 (Technician) in order to be
relicensed, however. The Commission declined to give examination credit
to the holder of an expired Certificate of Successful Completion of
Examination (CSCE) or to extend its validity to the holder's lifetime.
"Our decision to grant credit for written examination Elements 3 and 4
for expired licenses that required passage [of those elements] will
provide some relief for former General, Advanced, and Amateur Extra
class licensees," the FCC said, "and is consistent with how we treat
expired pre-1987 Technician class licensees who want to reenter the
Amateur Service." Pre-1987 Techs can get Element 3 credit, since the
Technician and General class written examinations in that era were
identical. The Commission said current rules and procedures that apply
to expired pre-1987 Technician licenses "are sufficient to verify that
an individual is a former licensee under our new rules."
The Commission said that requiring applicants holding expired licenses
to pass Element 2 in order to relicense "will address commenters'
concerns about lost proficiency and knowledge, because a former
licensee will have to demonstrate that he or she has retained knowledge
of technical and regulatory matters." The FCC said the Element 2
requirement also would deter any attempts by someone with the same name
as a former licensee to obtain a ham ticket without examination. In the
past, the FCC has maintained that its procedures "provide ample
notification and opportunity for license renewal" and that retesting
did not impose an unreasonable burden.
The FCC pulled back from its own proposal to reduce from three to two
the minimum number of volunteer examiners required to proctor an
Amateur Radio examination session. The ARRL, the W5YI-VEC and "a clear
majority of commenters" opposed the change, the FCC said. The FCC said
it found commenters' arguments persuasive that that the use of three
VEs "results in higher accuracy and lower fraud that would be the case
with two VEs." In a related matter, though, the Commission embraced the
use of remote testing methods.
"Allowing VEs and VECs the option of administering examinations at
locations remote from the VEs is warranted," the FCC said. The National
Conference of Volunteer Examiner Coordinators (NCVEC) in 2002 endorsed
experimental use of videoconferencing technology to conduct Amateur
Radio testing in remote areas of Alaska. The Anchorage VEC has long
pushed for the change, citing the expense to provide Amateur Radio test
sessions to Alaska residents living in remote areas.
The FCC declined to address "the mechanics" of remote testing, which,
it said, "will vary from location to location and session to session."
The Commission said specific rules spelling out how to administer exam
sessions remotely "could limit the flexibility of VEs and VECs." The
FCC stressed the obligation on the part of VECs and VEs "to administer
examinations responsibly" applies "in full" to remote testing.
The FCC amended the rules to provide that VEs administering
examinations remotely be required to grade such examinations "at the
earliest practical opportunity," rather than "immediately," as the rule
for conventional exam sessions requires.
New Emissions Permitted
Finally, the FCC has adopted an ARRL proposal to authorize certain Time
Division Multiple Access (TDMA) emissions in the Amateur Service. The
Wireless Telecommunications Bureau in 2013 granted an ARRL request for
a temporary blanket waiver to permit radio amateurs to transmit
emissions with designators FXD, FXE, and F7E, pending resolution of the
The FCC said it also would make "certain minor, non-substantive
amendments" and corrections to the Amateur Service rules. The new rules
become effective 30 days after their publication in The Federal
Register. Read more
The ARRL Letter
There are no comments on this article: