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'Tyro' License Proposal Open for Comment:

from The ARRL Letter on March 14, 2019
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'Tyro' License Proposal Open for Comment:

The same day that the FCC put ARRL's Technician Enhancement petition on public notice, it also invited comments on another proposal, designated RM-11829, asking the FCC to create a "Tyro" license class that would require a minimal online examination and require mentoring by an Amateur Radio licensee of Technician class or higher. A "tyro" is a novice or a beginner. The petition was filed in August of 2017 by Gary A. Hampton, AD0WU, of Longmont, Colorado. Tyro licensees would earn operating privileges on 99 channels in a 70-centimeter "TyroSubBand." Applicants would have to be at least 11 years old. Hampton said in his petition that one goal would be "reliable, nationwide 70-centimeter interoperability" in the exclusive 430 - 440 MHz segment of the band.

"The Tyro license is exceptionally important to FEMA's CERT program," Hampton's petition asserts. "It allows ARES to solve CERT's communication problems. The TyroSubBand technical specifications easily double the capacity of typical 70-centimeter repeaters..."

Hampton maintained in his petition that Amateur Radio also "should be used to further scientific research that is published and quickly placed in the public domain."

Hampton expressed the belief that institution of the Tyro license would spawn growth within Amateur Radio, making entry into the hobby nearly as simple as obtaining a General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS license.

The window for comments on the Tyro license petition is open for 30 days.


The ARRL Letter

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'Tyro' License Proposal Open for Comment:  
by KA4GFY on March 18, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
This proposal is an attempt to circumvent the well-established test procedures to earn an amateur radio license in an effort give CERT programs cheap communications capability at the expense of the Amateur Radio Service. It does not involves ARES to solve CERT’s communications problem, it DOES allow CERT to use Amateur Radio frequencies without a real licensing exam. The current Technician material is not a barrier when five and six year old children are passing the exam with ease. There are more amateur radio operators now than ever before. International telecommunications law specifies what is required to become a licensed amateur radio operator.
There is no exam required to become licensed in the General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS). The “exam” consists of filling out the form, promising to follow the rules and paying the license fee. Since there is no formal exam in this proposal other than an amateur radio licensee proctoring the applicant filling out the form, the petition discusses mentoring as a way to educate the new Tyro licensee. There is no guarantee mentoring will take place once one becomes a Tyro licensee. Given the non-existent exam, this will become the majority of licensees just as the Technician class has become.
I am the trustee for 11 amateur radio repeaters in the Washington, DC area. I participate with the regional amateur radio repeater coordinator, and have never heard of the TyroSubBand. The petition makes this sound like those repeater pairs are already available. They’re not. Band plans for the 70 cm band do not have any FM repeater allocations below 440 MHz. Much of the 70 cm spectrum between 420 and 440 MHz is allocated to CW, SSB, weak signal, satellite, and ATV.
Also, the 70 cm amateur radio band is shared with the Department of Defense. We are not the primary user on 70 cm. It is a good arrangement. However, there are parts of the US where the DOD is using the spectrum and it is unavailable to the Amateur Service. The buildout discussed in the petition may jeopardize that good relationship.
I have been an amateur radio instructor for over 35 years and a Volunteer Examiner for over 25 years. The vast majority of CERT members obtaining amateur radio licenses have no real interest in amateur radio. Plain and simple. They only view it as a tool of the trade for CERT activities. They get a Technician license in a weekend crash course or study on their own, buy an inexpensive radio from a vendor on the Internet and the radio sits unused except for occasional CERT activities. There is no interaction with other amateurs outside of CERT except at the exam session. They only communicate among themselves on the occasional CERT net on 2 meters, absolutely no casual communication with anybody else. Their skills never improve beyond what little they learned in the crash course or from studying on their own It is painful to listen to. They do not upgrade their license because there is no interest in amateur radio beyond CERT.
I have a better idea to solve CERT’s communications problem. Many localities are abandoning their VHF and UHF frequencies in favor 800 MHz trunk systems. Rather than terminating the license and selling the equipment, turn it over to the CERT program. These people are not much different from volunteer firefighters and EMS personnel. In many places, they have fire department radios in their personal vehicles. What’s the difference?
I worked in a two way radio shop in college and have seen plenty of low end radios in use on public safety frequencies by volunteers, so nobody has to spend the big bucks buying a Motorola, Harris, or EJ Johnson radio.
This is a really bad idea loaded with potential for fraudulent licensing. I can see it now, a volunteer shows up at a disaster situation, sits down at a computer with a Technician Class CERT member to “proctor” the “exam,” and they are instantly a ham. Absolutely no training on rules, regulation and operating procedures and they are handed a cheap radio with no idea how to use it. What little skills they have will be what they learned from the movies and TV. We know how bad that is. Once the disaster situation is finished, they go home, never to be “mentored” again.
During a disaster situation, these people will be absolutely useless because they have no idea of what they are doing. As an Assistant EC, I would rather send a ham to CERT school than send a CERT member to ham radio school. Why? Because the ham knows how to communicate.

Rich, KA4GFY
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