Giving how anachronic Morse code has become
That's not a given at all.
and how few people still use it
From what I hear on the bands and see in the results, a lot of hams use Morse Code - right now, today.
For the past several years I have done Field Day with a local group that has run from 4 to 8 transmitters in their operations. Every year the 'phone transmitters and operators far outnumber the CW stations and operators, yet the CW station and its handful of operators have made more points and almost as many QSOs as all the 'phone stations combined.
This past year (2010) we ran 7A + GOTA. We had one-full time CW station and 2 part-time CW stations. All the rest were 'phone only. Yet we made more than twice as many CW QSOs as 'phone QSOs!
As for digital modes, we've had a digital setup some years. Best they ever did was 86 QSOs. Meanwhile the solo CW station that year made more than five times as many QSOs. The problem wasn't technical; the digital folks had a good setup. They just couldn't find any more new ones to work!
shouldn't the band plans be revised to reduce the "exclusive" CW portions and open up more space for SSB phone and digital modes?
Let's look at the facts as laid out in Part 97. The following is US regulations - is that what you mean by "band plans"?
First off, there are only two exclusive CW-only subbands in US amateur radio. They are 50.0 to 50.1 MHz and 144.0 to 144.1 MHz. The rest of those bands, and of all other VHF/UHF amateur bands, are already open to digital and voice modes.
So let's look at the HF bands and 160 meters.
First off, you will find very little CW operation in the 'phone subbands. Second, and more important, you will find *no* US digital operation in the 'phone subbands, because it's not allowed.
Consider each band:
160 has no subbands-by-mode at all. SSB and digital are legal everywhere on 160.
That leaves the HF bands:
80/75 is 80% 'phone (400 of the 500 kHz.). The CW and digital folks are all down in the lowest 100 kHz.
60 meters is five channels where only USB is allowed.
40 is 58.3% 'phone (175 of the 300 kHz.). The CW and digital folks are all down in the lowest 125 kHz.
30 has no 'phone subband, because it's only 50 kHz wide.
20 is 57.1% 'phone (200 of the 350 kHz.). The CW and digital folks are all down in the lowest 150 kHz.
17 is 58% 'phone (58 of the 100 kHz.). The CW and digital folks are all down in the lowest 42 kHz.
15 is 55.5% 'phone (250 of the 450 kHz.). The CW and digital folks are all down in the lowest 200 kHz.
12 is 60% 'phone (60 of the 100 kHz.). The CW and digital folks are all down in the lowest 40 kHz.
10 is 82.4% 'phone (1300 of the 1700 kHz.). The CW and digital folks are all down in the lowest 300 kHz.
If we add up the HF bands and leave out the five channels of 60 meters, we see that of the 3550 kHz total, 2393 are available to 'phone modes. That's 67.4% - more than 2/3 of the available space. If you count 160 and 60 meters, the percentage goes even higher.
But there's even more to the story.
DX 'phone stations typically operate below the US 'phone band edges. For example, on 20 meters you will hear DX 'phones operating below 14.150 MHz - and the CW and digital folks are thus pushed further down the band.
Even more important is the fact that, a few years ago, the FCC widened the 'phone subbands on several HF ham bands. 75 meters got the most added spectrum, at the expense of 80 meters. (FCC treats them as if they were separate bands -look in Part 97). This squeezed the digital folks because they can't operate in the 'phone subbands. So they moved lower, and pushed the CW folks downwards too.
I think it would make a lot of sense to allow more spectrum for modern types of communication at the expense of a dying technology.
Which technology do you mean? What do you consider "modern"?
Consider that SSB was in commercial use in the 1920s, FM in the 1930s, and FSK RTTY in the 1940s. Hams have been using those modes almost as long.
Consider too that most commercial and military operations have abandoned or are abandoning HF radio, SSB, FSK RTTY, and many other modes popular with hams, for various reasons. At best, those modes are used for backups.
What do you consider "modern"? Should we channelize all the HF bands too? That's the "modern" way.
We could still leave a small portion of the bands reserved for those who want to continue playing with Morse code, but I think the vast majority of hams will be very happy to see more space available for other forms of communication.
I think the 'phone subbands are plenty wide enough as they are. I think that digital modes should be allowed in the 'phone subbands.
Some questions for you:
How much are you willing to leave for Morse Code? Give us some real numbers for each band.
Are you willing to allow digital modes in the 'phone subbands?
Here's what I'd like to see:
Divide each HF ham band into three subbands-by-mode.
The lowest subband is Morse Code *only*. No digital, no phone, no beacons, no automatic operation. Say about 25% of each band.
The highest subband is voice modes *only*. No digital, no CW, no beacons, no automatic operation. Say about 40% of each band.
The middle subband is all authorized modes - digital, CW, 'phone, beacons, automatic and semiautomatic, etc. 35% of the band.
73 de Jim, N2EY