But I think the code *TEST* was dropped from amateur radio licensing for very different reasons.
The main reason that code was dropped is because amateur radio is a hobby in decline and making it easier to get licensed gave it additional life support, at least for some time. The number of licensed hams in the US over the past 10 years has remained flat (+/- 1%), in spite of a 10% increase in population.
Your definition of "decline" seems to be based entirely on the number of licensees. I think a much broader definition is needed.
Simply looking at growth in numbers as the only measure of whether something is "in decline" isn't accurate. Or good.
Edward Abbey wrote: "Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell"
I think that Quality is as important if not more important than Quantity.
If the code requirement was still in place, the number of hams would be steadily decreasing, and this is bad for both ARRL and radio equipment manufacturers, so they lobbied to get the code dropped and make ham radio more accessible.
Nobody knows how the numbers would have changed if things had turned out differently. We only know what did happen.
ARRL did *not* lobby to eliminate the code test. Some equipment manufacturers did. And some hams did.
And as has been noted in other posts, the *written* testing was also reduced and simplified.
It would be interesting to see statistic of code proficiency by age group as well as date of upgrade to General / Extra.
That would be interesting - but such statistics aren't available because FCC hasn't kept age data on licensees for many years.
One statistic that *is* known is that people in the developed world are living longer. They're also having fewer children and having them later in life. Many countries are facing crises in their retirement programs because those systems were designed around much shorter life expectancies.
Japan in particular faces serious problems with how to fund their retirement-pension obligations.
In the USA, a considerable amount of the population growth is the result of immigration rather than a baby boom.
I bet that a very substantial percentage (probably majority) of hams who have upgraded to General / Extra after the code requirement was dropped don't know Morse and will never learn it.
Maybe. What does that matter?
A very substantial percentage of hams today - probably the majority - don't operate digital modes like PSK31, and probably never will. Does that mean the bandspace for those modes should be reduced?
Today ham radio is still dominated by "mature" hams who had to learn code as part of their licensing process, but as more and more new, code-less hams take over (and old-timers pass away), there will be less and less CW activity.
Maybe. But no US ham is "code-less". Any US amateur radio operator may use Morse Code if they so desire. A considerable number of newcomers *are* learning it and using it, simply because they want to.
And there are a considerable number of younger amateurs who know and use Morse Code. They will be around for a long time to come.
In fact, now that the *test* issue has been decided, we seem to be seeing an increase in Morse Code *use*. The ultimate irony of the whole situation may turn out to be that the end of code *testing* resulted in an increase in code *use*.
My question may seem controversial today (just as the idea of code-less General and Extra hams was few years ago), but it is only a matter of time that code's popularity will decrease, especially given that two largest ham communities (US and Japan), as well as ITU, have dropped code requirement. It's only a matter of time that other countries will follow, and 20-30 years from now CW will be a relic - few hams will practice it as an "art", but the vast majority of amateur radio community will be code-less (assuming that ham radio can survive that long as a significant activity, but that is another story).
Several countries besides the US and Japan have reduced or eliminated Morse Code testing. Yet the on-air use of Morse Code by hams seems to be increasing.
The question is - should we wait until then to revise the bandplans, or should we act proactively (maybe not today, but in 5 or 10 years) to adjust to prevailing trends.
First you have to know what those trends really are. Which you don't. You assume that things will change a certain way, but you don't really know they will.
And what about digital modes? What do you propose for them? Should they be allowed in the 'phone subbands?
But let's get down to specifics.
What *specific* changes in "bandplans" do you want to see?
For example, for the past several years, the 80/75 meter band has been the following:
3500 - 3600: CW, digital
3600 - 4000: Voice modes, CW
By license class:
3500 - 3525: Extra only
3525 - 3600: All classes
3600 - 3700: Extra only
3700 - 3800: Extra and Advanced
3800 - 4000: Extra, Advanced, and General
Now, how would you change those rules?
How much room would you allow for Morse Code? How much for digital? How much for voice modes?
Would you have some bandspace for Morse Code *only*? Because today there isn't any on the US HF amateur bands.
73 de Jim, N2EY